Should I move in with a new partner, close to our families?
September 5, 2017 11:56 PM   Subscribe

I live in a city in the middle of a housing bubble (some say). My lease is ending, and I'm considering moving into a new place with someone I've been seeing and like a lot, whose lease is also ending. He loves a particular area. I'm not as thrilled with it - here are my pros and cons:


- Apartments in this area are cheaper than they are where I currently live. By a fair bit - and a little easier to get. It's almost impossible to find somewhere decent and affordable in the city - apartment hunting is a traumatic experience for most.

- There are good odds of not having rat or other pest issues in these buildings (a concern of mine). And of having a bathtub and a balcony, probably with a decent view. I could not afford all these things at once on my own. This way, I could, and it'd be cheaper than what I'm paying now.

- There are ok connections to places I actually want to go (50-90 mins, one way. A lot of people in the larger area have that for a daily commute, to be fair). If I wanted to be out later than ~1 am on a weekend, that'd be $60 cab ride. (Where I live now, it takes ~20-40 mins to get most places.) Listing this as a pro, because it could be worse. There are decent enough transit connections to places I need to go.

- There's an ok little main strip with coffee shops and whatnot, sports bars and a few pubs (not my thing). But it's more walkable than a lot of other cheapish areas I could live in. (Also listed as a pro, owing to the relative dearth of cheap places in walkable areas. Most of the rest of this burb - all the burbs - consists of big ugly houses, malls or strip malls. It's an urbanist's nightmare.) I mostly feel trapped when I go there. He loves the pace, feels balanced there. (I'm also slightly trapped here, in a different way, though - more on that in a minute.)

- I'd be better positioned to do more wrt some family obligations. (I do also like to spend some non-obligation time with my family. In doses.) The person I'm thinking of moving in with also has family obligations in the area, that's the main motivator for him.

- I could see maybe moving there with more enthusiasm in 10 or 15 years, but only really if I couldn't afford anywhere else I find more appealing.

- I'd get to live with someone great. I want to live with him, can see a future with him. (But it's early days. The timing's what it is, both of us are done with our leases now. It wouldn't be just for the sake of convenience or cost. He's lovely company and a good friend already. I can see us finding ways to be productive together... It'd be fun. I know we can compromise and have similar ways of managing household stuff, that'd be equitable.)


- I don't really feel at home or at ease in that neighbourhood. I much prefer living in the city, it's just more psychologically comfortable. Major factor. (I'm in Canada, but fwiw this riding swings between conservative and liberal [but like, conservative-liberal].)

- I really appreciate the buffer that 50-90 minutes creates between me and my family. Yes, I can always assert boundaries more effectively, it's just that I'd rather not have to spend the energy on it. I sometimes allow myself to get sucked in semi-voluntarily (and then want out....)

- I won't have the chance to see my friends as much. Moving out there, despite the "good" connections (though really, nowhere has great connections) will mean exiling myself. No one goes out there to visit friends. But, the cost of everything means I have to be sparing about nights out here, anyhow. Even so... I'd rather not go out, or do cheap things, or just be anonymous somewhere I feel good...

The person I'm thinking of living with does have a few friends in the area. It'd be down to his friends, my family, and his family, unless I made a special effort to wrench myself from that to see my friends. I like his friends well enough, but. Not having the option to easily be near people I've actually and personally chosen to be around makes me edgy.

(But again, that's changing, too, because this area's so damn expensive. Many of my friends have moved to different cheaper neighbourhoods, at the opposite end of the traffic/transit jam, and others have largely retreated to family life, though I do still see them. Everyone has to make hard choices. I'm basically aging out of the lifestyle I miss and am stuck with not a lot of options. I feel slightly as though this city [plus my age] are forcing my hand. Then again, I also fear being on my own, I don't think I want to do that. I know this isn't the only opportunity to meet someone... I like him a lot, though. We're both sort of ready to settle down, and can see it happening with each other. We miss each other through the week. I don't think the distance would be completely awful or wreck things, necessarily, but definitely a little bit awful.)

- I'd rather have more time to build up the relationship before making a commitment like this, and exposing it to the pressures of cohabitation and dealing with our respective family obligations. And long commutes. (His will be really long, though lots of people do it. He'll be tired most weekdays...) I'd like to learn more about how we handle differences of interest. At least another six months or so. But maybe this is a way of finding out?

The other option is for probably just me to move to a different area that's in between this neighbourhood and other places we each need to go. I could see him and my family on weekends. He could also stay with me through the week if he wanted (would also cut his commute by a bit). He says he'd consider it, but I know he's keen on moving in together right away and is mostly done with city stuff. Maybe he could move in at some point midyear, if it suited him, or I could move there if I changed my mind... I like this idea, I think it might give us more time. Unless what I'm actually doing is creating obstacles out of anxiety or a reluctance to recognize the facts of my situation, when maybe I should just go with what roughly makes sense and mostly want to do...

(Thanks to anyone who read all that.)
posted by cotton dress sock to Human Relations (25 answers total)
"But maybe this is a way of finding out?"

Did that, worked out terrrribly. Would not do again. If and only if you really consider this, make sure you plan out doomsday scenarios, i.e. he has all sorts of negative underpinnings and you can't stand living together and have to move out/break lease and find a new place. Always have a backup plan.

"Unless what I'm actually doing is creating obstacles out of anxiety or a reluctance to recognize the facts of my situation"

This is usually my gut telling me the right thing and whenever I have ignored it, it worked out terrribly.

"He says he'd consider it, but I know he's keen on moving in together right away and is mostly done with city stuff."

This is about you. Not him. Don't change your life and circumstances to make his life easier. This all sounds like a total drag. He may be a nice guy and all, but depending on however long you've dated, by all accounts you even mention that it's too soon and you want to wait it out. So do that. Find your own awesome place with pros for you and let this thing with the guy work itself out. If you removed him from the equation, you said yourself you'd probably live there in 10-15 years "but only really if I couldn't afford anywhere else I find more appealing." That's quite telling. Pass Go and collect $200 then keep moving along the board until you land on something you like.
posted by lunastellasol at 1:14 AM on September 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

Also, ANYONE who says they're keen on doing something right away, should be either a healthcare professional of some kind in a life-threatening circumstance or something similar. This is not a situation wherein expediency is of the utmost importance. Do NOT let people rush you into something you don't feel comfortable with. The proper response in a scenario such as this would be "let's talk about what you want out of this and let me know if it's right for you. If not, we can discuss it later on down the line and see if it makes sense then."

Particularly if this person truly wants to commit to you. You say you see a future with him, does he see moving in as a commitment? As building a future together? Because it doesn't sound like he's as head over heels as he could be and more like the timing of your leases ending is the catalyst for this sudden desire to live together. Has he mentioned moving in together before?

Further, your compromising and equitable comment isn't guaranteed. You don't really know until you know. Is his income stable? Have you had any discussions about money? Do you know if he's in serious debt or is reliable when it comes to financial matters? Will you have to pay for everything if he becomes unemployed relatively early into the lease? Really think about what the deal is here.
posted by lunastellasol at 1:25 AM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding lunastellasol on the "Always have a backup plan."

I moved in with a previous partner because his lease ended suddenly and, blinded by lurve, I wanted to move the relationship forward. The brutal fact is that he was not on the same page in terms of commitment and, despite making vaguely enthusiastic noises, regarded it as purely a move of convenience. Finding this out after the move was not a good feeling and led fairly directly to a break up less than six months later, whereupon I ended up stuck with a place that was far too big for me to afford alone. I had to get in a lodger. See my previous ask for how well that turned out.

Nowadays, I would only move in if BOTH are 100% excited about living together and can come to a mutually satisfying agreement on where and how to live. If you can't in this case, I vote that you find another place for yourself in the area where you want to be, close to your friends, and see how this relationship progresses.
posted by doornoise at 1:47 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd rather have more time to build up the relationship before making a commitment like this,

Read these wirds out loud. They are your words. Look in the mirror and say them again. Say them until you feel confident saying them. Then say them to him.

The rest is justification and rationalization and "sliding, not deciding." Don't slide into something you don't want just because your lease is up. Decide what you want for yourself.
posted by headnsouth at 3:24 AM on September 6, 2017 [29 favorites]

I moved out of DT Toronto willingly but noticed that pretty much zero of my Toronto friends were able to visit. Travel in the sprawl is a pain and there is a psychological barrier as well. So, you are right to assume those friendships will wither unless you are the one putting in 90% of the effort. I'm happy when I am - I have made very deep friendships out here (more hippies out here than in Toronto, lol) but I made a conscious effort to be part of the community by working here. Long commutes really kill community-building.

Lots of things in life depend on timing and it really sounds like the timing is off but both of you having separate places would be ideal and more likely to lead to a stronger, longer-lasting relationship.

Another factor is that in Canada common-law marriage means that legally, after a year you two will have the legal downsides of marriage (messy breakups involving finances and sharing debts he may have accrued without your knowledge). Do you feel ready for that commitment and the responsibility? If you wouldn't marry him right now then don't move in.

This all reminds me of the famous "sliding vs deciding" TedTalk. It sounds like you are sliding into moving in with him.
posted by saucysault at 3:31 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Without even working to carefully weigh the pros and cons, it's pretty clear from your post that you don't really want to do this. Your pros list seems like you're straining to find good things to say, while your cons list eloquently lists several significant downsides to the decision. It looks to me that you've already decided not to do it. I happen to agree that that's probably the right decision, but it almost doesn't matter because that's so clearly what your decision is.
posted by Betelgeuse at 3:32 AM on September 6, 2017 [13 favorites]

Don't do it. It sounds like you are at heart a city person. I am a city person and I feel your fear. If that is the case your and new guy's values are too different. Yes, the city is making it hard as hell for you to love it but the solution is not to move to the suburbs, the solution is to be with someone who is also a city person and will work together with you to find a solution. Maybe you move to a different city. But don't move to the burbs on the off-chance this new love will work out. It's too limiting on the get-out options and a recipe for major resentment on both parts.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:55 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

The first and biggest reason for moving in with your boyfriend should be because you really want to live with him, and I'm just not hearing that from you. I'd look for a place you like and then revisit this in a year. There's no need to rush things in a relationship if you aren't quite ready, even if it may seem easier logistically on paper: you'll have plenty of time later and having taken the time to decide will help you and him feel better about the decision.
posted by smorgasbord at 3:59 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

It seems like moving in with this person and moving to this area are being unnecessarily conflated (and given a deadline). By giving yourself more time you'd be more able to decide about the living together part first. And then if you did want to, you could decide together - taking into account both of your preferences! - about the location. (It might be that it's hard to find a compromise you're both happy with, because you want different lifestyles, etc. - and that's the point where you'd think about whether being together would be worth it.)

Right now, he's decided on his own where he wants to live, and then he'd also like it if you were there. That's a fine thing to ask about in case it would work well for everybody, but it clearly doesn't. The location sounds like it wouldn't even be a great compromise had you decided to look for a place together - and you're ambivalent about the together part too.
posted by cogitron at 4:36 AM on September 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm on the fence about whether the "move in with this guy" part of the equation is a good idea or not. It seems a little early, the timing is not quite what you'd prefer, and a year's lease is a big commitment. But then moving in with someone usually means signing a lease (at a minimum), the timing (if imperfect) doesn't sound that terrible, and you seem to feel pretty good about this guy for pretty much the right reasons. And of course, life doesn't always give us the opportunity to do things according to our ideal preferences. So to me, that's a tossup.

So take that out of the equation, pretend it doesn't exist for a moment. How does living in a cheaper, nicer apartment, closer to family but farther from friends, in an OK-but-not-great location sound to you? What could you do to maximize the benefits and minimize the drawbacks of such a move? How does it sound compared to the alternative? What would moving to somewhere in between his new location and your current one be like financially, socially, etc.?

Answer that, and you've made your decision.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:00 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you want permission to not move in with this person. I hereby add further back up for you. This hour long talk is based on some research. The research has been reproduced, though it is focused mostly on folks in their late teens/early twenties, the advice to Decide rather than Slide seems to be solid through the life span. This guy is conservative, and yet liberal leaning researchers also reproduce his data.

This guy has given lots of slidey reasons to move in together, I've taken the liberty to summarize your list of pro items:
Apartments in this area are cheaper
not having rat or other pest issues
ok connections to places I actually want to go
some family obligations.....that's the main motivator for him.
but only really if I couldn't afford anywhere else I find more appealing
I can see us finding ways to be productive together... It'd be fun

Nowhere is there a burning desire to make a long term commitment with this person. And that's what moving is, a type of commitment. And then I see that this move would isolate you, which is where I tell you that not only do you have permission to not move in with this fellow, being isolated by a guy who has stated that his main purpose is to e closer to his family just quicks me right out.

Wait until you find the person you are ready to make a commitment to, and maybe it will turn out to be this guy. But Get more information first. (I'm not saying be 100% certain, but gather more data points.) If he needs to move to the city, he can get a roommate to save money, and you can visit each other, utilizing that ok transit connection. You'll quickly see who is more invested in this relationship.
posted by bilabial at 5:03 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't think you're creating obstacles out of anxiety. The reality is that it is too early in your relationship yet to know if you absolutely want to do what he is proposing. Realistically, it is a gamble for you whether it will work out or not--you just don't know. So in one sense it really comes down to whether or not you want to take that risk. Taking that risk doesn't sound super worth it to me when you could wait a bit longer and have more certainty.
posted by Polychrome at 5:30 AM on September 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

The problem with identifying as someone who often sees through a lens of anxiety (I say from experience) is 1. that it makes you doubt perceptions that are actually not anxiety-based. And 2. that it makes all anxiety seem neurotic, instead of a healthy sign from your inner self that something requires vigilance. Of course, that is why you're reality checking with and askme here, but I just wanted to add the extra point that your perceptions and hesitations in a relationship should not be dismissable just because you might have a tendency towards the anxious end of the spectrum in other areas of life. It has taken me so long to realize this, but in a relationship you're allowed to ask for what you need not to feel anxious. It isn't as if there is some objective set of rules about how things should proceed and your anxiety is preventing you from completing them. Wanting to slow down while you write this segment of your own life is not the same as needing to overcome writing block on a paper writing deadline. In the former case, your outer circumstances should bend to comfort you. That's how someone without a background noise of anxiety would interpret their own needs. As for the living situation: if your guy is able to see what you need without ego, then there's really no downside to delaying cohabitation, keeping your own life vibrant and full, staying for now in the neighborhood where you are and dealing with the problems of your urban life that you're already used to. And if he can't, well that is very, very important relationship data. (Throw money at the rodent problem, though.)
posted by flourpot at 5:49 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would move, easily. But then again walkabilty is huge for me, one small strip of shops is plenty for me, and I would happily never drive 90 minutes to anything unless it was a great camping trip.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:53 AM on September 6, 2017

The thing in your last paragraph, the other option that you succinctly lay out, addresses the cons and retains several pros. It respects the trajectory of your relationship while not pushing it forward beyond where you feel comfortable.

Your question reads like a persuasive argument: problem, problem, problem, and....solution!
posted by ramenopres at 6:53 AM on September 6, 2017

You stay in the city. And he moves where he wants to. If he wants to maintain the relationship, he'll either drive the 50 minutes to see you, OR it wasn't meant to be.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:55 AM on September 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

The phrase that stood out to me was that he is "mostly done with city stuff." It really sounds like you aren't.

If that's the case, then this won't be a happy move for you.
posted by uberchet at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I would vote no.

You're not living where you're comfortable, your co-habitant may not be there anyway due to their commute and their main motivation is family? That means their family obligation becomes your family obligation. So now you have both families to deal with.

I think you should either live where you want and this person can visit, or the two of you can reach a compromise. It sounds to me like this situation is one where you are doing all of the compromising.

I would agree that your last paragraph is likely a good compromise.
posted by cnc at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2017

You seem to be subscribing to a weird model in which grown-ups move out of the city, and that just...isn't true. I hereby give you permission to continue thinking of yourself as an adult wherever you live, in housing you pay for with money you earn from a job you work at.
posted by praemunire at 9:41 AM on September 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I hate to say it, but the whole tenor of your question screams out to me "I don't want to go!" You don't sound very sure about this relationship, and I don't think moving in together (it's messy and irritating to untangle, though of course, not impossible) is the best way to find out if it's going to work out in the long-run. I think you make it very clear that you are happier living in less space in an area where you can easily see your friends and also get out of family engagements due to commuting time -- I say you stay there, keep seeing the guy, and move in at a later date once you're really sure it's what you want. If he's the right one, the distance between you won't make or break your relationship.
posted by nonmerci at 12:12 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Set aside the guy for a second. Without him, there's zero chance the pros outweigh the cons. Yeah, balconies and bathtubs are nice, but there's no way they make up for living in a neighborhood you don't like or the social isolation you'll suffer.

Live in another place for a year. If you then decide you want to move in together you're much more likely to really know whether it's the right thing. And, you know, maybe he might know then that living with you is worth him compromising a bit too.
posted by grouse at 2:46 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, no! I once moved in with a guy after five months because I was still in the honeymoon phase and because we could move into a house with TWO BEDROOMS and I'd been in studios for years. I ended up staying in a dysfunctional codependent relationship for another 4.5 years.

All I'm saying is don't move in with the person if there are still questions about the relationship OR the location. My new opinion is that when it gets to the point where you can't stand not living with him, then think about it. At the point where your need to stay in the city is outweighed by the need to live with him is probably a good boundary.

Your "timing is great" argument is not great and IMHO not a good reason to move.
posted by bendy at 8:30 PM on September 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

You just don't sound ready, willing, interested. Do yourself a favor and say no.
posted by Toddles at 9:04 PM on September 6, 2017

I don't think this is such a bad idea, though I'm obviously in the minority. It's not the most desirable outcome, but it sounds like the best case scenario, with the nice apartment and no new flatmates or just putting it all off for a few months, isn't available to you. You're not marrying him or buying the place, and you're not moving to total suburbia.

You also seem pretty aware of the pitfalls. I would be wary of ending up only socialising with his friends and make a conscious effort to settle into that area myself. For the sake of independence retained and also because you want to own the move yourself. If you reduce the perks of the area to him and the apartment you are more likely to resent him and find the apartment stifling. I would be trying to think of ways that the area can be embraced.

Otoh, the other option sounds fine too. My point is merely that I don't think this is some huge looming disaster that you're misreading.
posted by jojobobo at 2:34 AM on September 7, 2017

Your cons seem much weightier and "sure of themselves" than your pros. There are even cons embedded in your pros list.

Listen to your gut over pros and cons lists, at this point. My gut is telling me that you don't want to move to this place and it wouldn't be a good idea for you.

If the relationship can't survive you two living in these different areas, then it wasn't meant to be long-term, and it will free you to find one that is.
posted by bearette at 5:00 PM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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