There comes a point in most new relationships when the ‘next step’ rears its head. Moving in together, for many, seems to be the logical thing to do. You’re already spending most of your time at one home or the other. One of you has probably moved their major toiletries and a variety of other possessions into the other person’s home and you sleep together every night. It can seem a little bit or even a lot of a waste of money to maintain two households when you’re already virtually living as one. But are you? That’s the real question.

Knowing that you have your own space to escape to can be a big factor when feeling comfortable in a new relationship. No, you may not make much use of that space. In fact, it may seem that the only reason you spend any time at your home at all is that your cat is lonely. The problem is that no matter how appealing it might be to take that ‘next step’ unless it’s radically essential for financial reasons, it may be worth taking your time.

If you’re happy in your own space already, you may really regret giving it up if things don’t work out. Let’s be fair, most relationships don’t in the long term. Sure, it might seem like a way to save money now. You can pool your resources, share bills and even save on traveling between the two locations.

On the other hand, it’s worth stopping to think about how much it’s going to cost you to move your stuff at least once. And if things don’t go as planned, you’ll need to find a new place that you may not like as much. You will have to pay a deposit and cover the costs of moving again. Is it really worth giving up your home and space just to save a little money in the short term?

Let’s not be so pessimistic here though. Let’s say your relationship is one of the ones that will make it. Is moving in together still the right thing to do? Especially if you’re moving into one or the other person’s already established homes.

It might be cute to pick up his socks now or to have all of her makeup covering the bathroom counter. But will it be cute when you’re dealing with it on a daily basis? It’s those little irritations that lead not so little arguments.

Keeping separate places, at least for a couple of years, can be a very wise thing to do. It gives you time to get to know each other better. You both have your own space where you feel comfortable. You can have friends and family come and stay without worrying about whether they’ll get on with your partner. Your cat will be very happy. We haven’t even talked about what would happen if you moved in and your cat decided to start peeing in your boyfriend’s shoes. There are not many things worse than an ‘it’s me or the cat’ conversation.

If, after a couple of years, you both still want to move in together, it’s time to do some adulting and have a proper discussion about it. Work out the details in advance. If at all possible, try to find a new place where you can start fresh. That way you both get to have a say about decorating and furnishings from the outset. Plus you both feel like it’s your own home. You’re not just a guest in someone else’s. The cat will thank you too.