When talking about long-distance relationships, most of them fall into one of two buckets:
- Relationships that are always expected to be long distance.
- Relationships in which one person is eventually going to move to be closer to the other.
Occasionally, a third type emerges: One in which both parties move and settle in a different location together.
But for the most part, in relationships where the separation is going to be temporary, it’s far more common for one person to move to the other person’s area.
I’ve done it a few times now, relocated to move in with a long-distance partner. (Notably, I haven’t yet been the person that someone else has moved for.)
Sometimes it’s been a really pleasant experience and I’ve felt very welcomed in my new home. Other times, it hasn’t been, and after uprooting my life, I actually felt ignored and quite uncomfortable.
Here’s what happened in the successful moves, what partners did that made me feel welcome and what I’d recommend you do when your long-distance partner moves in with you.
1. Have their favorite toiletries waiting for them.
This one is such a small thing but can make such a huge difference. Every time I’ve traveled to be with someone, I’ve needed a shower in the worst possible way immediately upon arrival. Whether it was after a long car trip, journey by bus, or a flight, I felt funky.
Look, real life is not always glamorous.
Being able to take a shower at my new place and have my old favorites magically already in the shower? Amazing.
For me, this is a certain brand of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. It makes all the difference. Bonus points for the right deodorant waiting in the medicine cabinet.
So ask your sweetie what they use. And have it ready for them.
Yes, they can pack those things. If they’re flying, however, they have to use tiny bottles. And even if not traveling by plane, those bottles are prone to leaking and kind of a pain to pack.
And besides, having them literally already in the shower is seriously such a nice thing. It says Welcome Home.
2. Keep a supply of their favorite drinks and snacks as well as the ingredients to make a couple of their favorite meals in the cupboard and fridge.
Similarly, having familiar food in the fridge and cupboards is a big deal. Travel can be an ordeal. And I’ve arrived hangry and thirsty in spite of my best efforts to plan for unexpected delays.
It’s incredibly comforting to open up a fridge and see your favorite soda there. To ask for a snack and be handed something you eat all the time.
And if they can cook you one of your go-to comfort meals? Oh my God.
Seriously… so welcoming.
3. Make sure your own needs are topped off when they’re going to hit town.
This one is a biggie. As I mentioned in the last two points, traveling can be grueling. And your partner likely just finished dealing with a bunch of logistics wrapping up their old life. Moving out, getting rid of possessions, mail forwarding, you name it (even potentially putting a house on the market).
They’re likely going to be drained.
Since you’re the one who is less uprooted, make sure that you tend to your needs and that you’re in a good place when they show up — just in case they aren’t.
This means that you make sure to get enough sleep. Make sure you aren’t hangry or dehydrated when you pick them up or they show up at your door.
Life happens, and this may not go as planned, but make an effort to get as close to your ideal state of being as you can so you have the energy to help them out and make them feel welcome.
4. If you can, clear your schedule as much as possible.
Ideally, you want to be available to help your partner settle in.
If they’re moving to an area they’ve never lived in before, they’ll likely need help figuring out where to go, what to do, how things work in their new home. Similarly, if you live in an apartment complex or a house or condo managed by HOA, there are likely rules and routines they’ll need to know.
Plus, they just uprooted their life for you. And you missed them since the last time you saw them, didn’t you? Give them some primo attention.
I had a partner ask me to move in with them one time while they were throwing their annual conference for their small business. I offered to come another time, but they told me it was no problem and that they’d make it work.
When I got there, they said nice to see you but joked that they’d see me four in days. It wasn’t quite as bad as all that, but it really was hard to spend any time with them, and I felt sort of awkward and in the way while they managed their conference (which I attended and spoke at as a presenter).
Kind of an awkward way to start.
In retrospect, it probably would have been better to come the week before. Or the week after (although then I wouldn’t have spoken at the conference).
5. Have ideas ready for things to show them or activities to do with them quietly at home (while being flexible and open to whatever they have the energy for).
This one’s a biggie. You’re going to know the area better than your partner does. So it falls on you to come up with a way to introduce them to the area. Fun activities — some can be touristy stuff you do once (and then again whenever new friends or relatives swing into town, to initiate them to it) and some can be everyday activities. Like a great brunch place, park, or movie theater.
Additionally, come up with low-energy activities to do at home. This can be movies or video games your partner likes. Cuddling. Whatever. Just in case they’re sleep deprived and exhausted from traveling.
6. Clear out space for their belongings in closets and drawers.
This one’s a biggie. Your partner needs a place to put their stuff. They can’t do that if you haven’t left them room to do that.
If you don’t have enough room, consider talking to them about furniture solutions (stand-alone closets, racks, wardrobes, drawers, etc.) that you could get for them to make it work. (It’s riskier to pick out something for them without talking to them.)
But seriously, you don’t want someone moving in and their not having any place to put their things.
7. Tell them (and show them) you’re excited that they’re finally here.
This is so simple, and yet for some people it’s where they fail.
I moved 900 miles for someone, and they never once said they were happy I had done it. And in fact, they joked about not having enough time for me and about how now that I was here that I’d probably just want to move right home.
DON’T DO THIS.
Instead, be clear that you’re excited that your partner has moved in with you. And get to work making plans with them about how to make them more comfortable and help them settle in.
And don’t just tell them you’re excited. Show them — by directing time and attention to them.
8. Discuss logistics of living together before moving in as much as you can, including any financial expectations.
Sometimes people jump right into living together without talking about what it looks like when they live alone. While you can do that, I’ve found that such transitions typically go much better if you talk about a few things first.
You can make the transition more comfortable by discussing certain things prior to moving in together. Sure, I’ve already implied that you should find out what toiletries will make a new partner more comfortable as well as some of their favorite meals and snacks. But that’s just the start.
For starters, it’s definitely important to be clear on any financial expectations you have with your new partner. Will they be responsible for half of the rent/mortgage? Less than half? More than half?
Some relationships base share of housing costs relative to how much each partner makes. Others base it on how much space is theirs. Still others combine everyone’s money into a large pool and it’s spent jointly.
What about utilities?
If your partner needs to find a new job in the area, what are the expectations surrounding job hunting? Will there be a grace period on bills until they find a job? If so, how long?
Will there be allowances made for expenses the partner who relocated incurred as part of that move?
A lot of people find talking about money uncomfortable, but it’s an essential conversation in relationships where one partner is relocating to live with the other.
9. Discuss which of your possessions will be shared and which won’t.
If you’ve never lived with each other before, discuss boundaries surrounding possessions. Pay specific attention to things already in the home.
For example, is the desktop computer in the house a communal one? Or is it something only you use? Or is there a middle ground — for example, would it be possible to create a separate log-in for your sweetie, one that they could use on your computer?
If the TV is programmed a certain way, would you be amenable to them changing those settings or adding in things that would make it more useful to them?
If you live in a home with smart appliances and lighting systems and/or a voice-activated assistant, will a separate profile be created for them to control those fixtures and/or will they be granted access on the preexisting profile?
If you have things you really don’t want to share with your new live-in partner, be honest about it upfront. It’ll save you a big hassle later on. If you do have strong boundaries regarding your possessions and don’t want to share, make sure to allow your partner space for their own possessions and the ability to access them.
The last thing someone moving a great distance to be with someone else is to feel like they were annexed onto someone else’s ongoing life without the ability to meaningfully contribute to it or affect it.
10. Discuss expectations surrounding chores and cleanliness.
You can discuss how you currently keep your homes. Be honest about it. What chores do you each like to do? What chores do you hate?
What bothers you if it’s really dirty? What doesn’t?
I personally can’t stand it if there are no dishes to eat or cook with. One of my partners was tormented by dirty countertops. I’ve known other people who would become extremely perturbed by soap scum and a ring around the tub.
And still others who basically weren’t bothered by any sort of mess, so long as the floor wasn’t a giant tripping hazard (and still others who didn’t even mind that).
11. Discuss your morning routine. Are you a morning person or not?
This one’s a biggie. Most people are very aware how much of a morning person they are. It’s helpful to know going in if you’re the kind of person who welcomes conversation in the morning (yes, we exist, sorry not sorry) or the kind who really doesn’t (every partner I’ve ever lived with).
I also have found it helpful to understand a partner’s morning routine when moving in with them. Do they drink coffee? Tea? Do they eat breakfast? If so, what? Do they go for a jog?
What time do they go to work?
This is something you’ll figure out pretty soon in — but knowing beforehand can make it easier to plan and smooth out any bumps in the road before you hit them.
12. Discuss your evening routine. What time do you typically go to bed?
Similarly, it’s probably good to know what time your partner gets home from work, when they normally have dinner, and when they go to bed.
Even if it’s quite different from yours and you’re working different shifts/days, you can usually find small windows and other ways to make it work so you can spend as much quality time together as possible and share your new space.