On Cohabitation: Notes From the First Half Year

by doniree on July 14, 2011

Living with a significant other is a big deal, like an ACTUAL BIG DEAL. Matt and I have been living together for almost three years and it’s till a big deal and we’re still learning things about each other. However today we get a peak into some of the things that Doni has learned while living with her boyfriend. So, it’s learning time! Enjoy!


Ok, first of all, I’m by no means an expert on co-habitation. I mean, it’s not like I have a masters in social work degree or anything. My boyfriend (Chris) and I moved in together at the end of December last year when we moved from Colorado to Portland. I wasn’t really nervous about moving in with him at all, though I did wonder how our relationship would change/grow because of it.

It was definitely an adjustment, and the biggest change for me was the wake up call to my own spending habits (let’s just say this year was a financial kick in the pants, but in a good way that made me waaaaay more responsible with my money!). Anyway, it’s been over six months now, and it’s safe to say I’ve learned more than just how to manage my income as a result of our shacking up together.

  1. Split the chores. We split things up by preferred tasks. I dislike cleaning floors – vacuuming, mopping, sweeping – and Chris doesn’t mind that at all. On the other hand, I’ll getting bleachy wit’ it in the bathroom, scrubbing countertops until they sparkle. So, I mostly take care of things like sinks and countertop, and he keeps the floors pet-hair-free. Fair trade! You can also tag-team the whole project and make an event of it. Crank the music and spend a couple of hours getting the place cleaned and organized – the #1 mission every time is to get rid of stuff. In a small space, limiting clutter is so imperative.
  2. Do your own thing sometimes. We both work from home, so we spend a vast majority of our total time together between living, working, and sleeping. I have my own little desk space set up, and he’s got his. We know that we need to be pretty up front with each other when we need to be hyper-focused (in the zone). This is especially helpful since we’re both constantly building and creating things that we’d like feedback on, and knowing when it’s cool to interrupt and when it’s not is pretty important.
  3. Do the little things. Like… cleaning the kitchen even if you’re the one who cooked. Or… when he moves my laundry over, because I forgot. Again (I also hate folding laundry). Or, when he starts the coffee in the morning because he knows it’ll be the first thing I need want. Doing little acts of sweetness (random acts of kindness?) is fun, and is always so appreciated.

Since we’ve only been sharing our home for the past 6 months, I asked a few of my more experienced co-habitating friends for some input on what THEY love about it, and what kind of tips they can offer.

Naturally, since this is Katelin’s blog, I asked her about living with Matt. Her favorite thing?

“I think it’s having someone to cuddle with, as corny as that sounds. And have someone that’s a bug killer and champagne opener, haha.”

Yes, cuddles are a huge bonus! And I totally agree with the can-opener and bug-killer part of that, ha. I may or may not refer to Chris as “BoyfriendMan” (in a very superhero-esque tone) every time I need his help with something like that!

Rachael says that the best thing about living with her boyfriend is the companionship:

“What it really means is that I have someone to lean on. Whenever one of us can’t handle something, the other person is there to pick up the slack. A partnership is a truly wonderful thing.”

Nick, who owns UMoveFree (an apartment-search service that helps helps renters find Mesquite apartments) comes at it from a more practical perspective and suggests (naturally) testing the waters in an apartment before buying a home together, opting for a lease first and a mortgage once the leasing proves to be a good idea.

Even so, a relationship changes course a bit when the decision to live together is made. Nicole advises,

“Make sure you’re ready, because it’s not something you can undo and have things just magically transition back to the way they were.”

It’s inevitable that you’ll disagree on things, and Chelsea suggests reminding yourself that you’re on the same team, even when your opinions [strongly] differ:

“The biggest thing to remember: allow each other space, and when arguments, etc., come up, remember that you ARE on each other’s “team” —that little reminder always helps me put the dukes down.”

Twitter had some great advice about shacking up, and a couple of people were quick to discourage doing so out of convenience:

“Don’t do it to save money or time. Move in because that’s the direction things are going.” – @punsultant

“Do it in the name of love & lasting, NOT for convenience” – @clareyt

The other tips I got from Twitter friends were just as awesome:

“Cook and eat (at a table.) dinner together. As often as possible. Good for the budget and the psyche.” – @beccawik

“Work out budgeting and chores ahead of time. Also: nights alone are important.” – @rhirhi

“I still had girl’s night. tried to stay out of obvious routines. had a naked day once a month. not pretend/joke we were married.” – @ohheychristine

“Tips: Talk about household likes/dislikes beforehand. Come up with a semi-schedule of household chores.” – @erinparker

“Know and understand bathroom habits/needs. Who is the clean one? Who leaves laundry in piles? Does it bother either? It really is the “roommate stuff” that causes the most frustration/stress. Which is dumb.” – @scott_bush

“Two people use about 4 times the amount of toilet paper than one person does. I don’t know why, it just is.” – @aboho

“Don’t set unrealistic expectations. You’ll regret time wasted arguing over chores. Have all of the fun & be nice to one another :)” – @sarahdotcom

So… Katelin’s dear friends and readers… what are your tips for sharing space with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Or, if you’re not shacking up, what’s the best thing about living solo or with your current roommates?

doniree walkerDoniree Walker is a blogger and life-lister who lives (for now) in Portland, Oregon where she frequents the Portland Farmers’ Markets and local wine bars. She believes in champagne with breakfast, kitchen-dancing, and living with intention. For more, check out her personal blogfood and travel blog, and follow her on Twitter @doniree.

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