Closing the Distance: 7 Things to Do Before You Buy the One-Way Ticket

One of the most pressing questions for any long-distance couple is when to ‘close the distance’. This normally means one of you moving to be closer to your long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend (or even husband/wife) – which means a new home, new city and sometimes a new country.

It’s a big step, perhaps the very biggest step for long-distance couples. So how do you know if the time is right?

Before you get the keys and sign the lease, here are 7 things you should do first.

1. Discuss your future plans as a couple

Hopefully, if you’ve reached the point where one or both of you are considering relocating for love, you’ll have already discussed the future – such as marriage, family, living location and so on. If you haven’t, now is the time to talk about where things are headed.

Should you move before the relationship is serious?

Is it ever a good idea to move before things are this serious? I think it can be, but only in very specific circumstances – such as:

  • If you’re not only moving ‘for the relationship’, but also because of another factor, such as if your major career prospects are in that location,

    AND/OR:
  • If the move is easily reversible. If it’s an international move, that’s unlikely, but if it’s only a few hours’ travel and you’re not giving up any major opportunities to do it, then that’s less of an upheaval.

If not, then the relationship should really be serious (i.e. you’re on the same page about the future together) before you make such a big decision.

Anxious about your partner moving?

If you’re the one who is staying put and you feel anxious at the thought of your partner potentially moving just to be with you, this is definitely something to talk about.

Sometimes in these situations, one partner just isn’t as ready as the other to close the distance and looks for reassurance that their partner is moving ‘mostly for themselves’. The partner making the move sometimes responds to this by providing this reassurance out of fear of losing the relationship, even though that is in fact the sole reason they are moving.

This is a time to be 100% honest with each other!

2. Consider all the different options

There’s more than one option for long-distance couples looking to close the distance. Here are five different ways you could arrange things:

Option 1: You move to their city and move into the place they already live in (or vice versa)

A ‘pro’ of this is that all the hassle of setting up a new home is largely dealt with, i.e.

  • Your partner will be there will be there to support with all the logistics of paying bills, etc.
  • You’ll already be familiar with the environment, so it’ll be less of a shock to the system
  • Plus you get to spend so much time together after being apart!

On the other hand, if they’re already established in their own place, it can feel a bit like you’re a guest there for a while, rather than it being a shared home. This feeling should go away in time (as you slowly start wearing all their hoodies 🙂 ), but don’t be afraid to take joint responsibility of your shared space from the beginning.

Option 2: Same as above, but you both move to a new place

This is likely to be the option you go for if you’re moving out of shared apartments (i.e. with roommates) and into your own place.

The advantage here is that you get all the excitement of building a home with your bae!

Option 3: One of you moves to the same city, but you live separately in your own places

This option might make sense if you’re not moving primarily for the relationship. Otherwise, it makes sense to wait until you’re serious enough to move in together before moving at all.

Option 4: You both move to a new city

Might be an option if you want to live together but neither one is entirely content with the locations you’re living in currently.

The advantage of this is that things are kept very equal – neither one is the only ‘fish out of water’ in the other’s town, because you’re both discovering a new place together.

A disadvantage is that things might be doubly unstable. Make sure you both go with a plan for your career prospects and be prepared to support each other with the emotional upheaval (see below).

Option 5: You go travelling

This isn’t always a realistic option, due to costs, having location-specific careers, or other commitments – but if you’re lucky enough to have the choice, it can be absolutely incredible to go globe-trotting with your favourite person in the world.

Long-distance relationships tend to attract people who think creatively and find ways to make things happen against the odds – so, if you’re thinking you might like to do this but aren’t sure how your partner would feel, mention it to them! You might be pleasantly surprised.

3. Research your career prospects in the area

Do your research on the job market for your sector in the city you’re thinking of living in. If you’re self employed, consider whether your business is portable and viable in that city.

Then discuss with your partner what the best solution is. For example, is it necessary for you to secure a job before moving? If they want you to move in and hunt for a job whilst you’re there, talk about how long you think it’ll take you to find one based on your research – and be prepared for what might happen if you don’t manage it within that time. Are they able to support you financially until you can find your feet?

4. Prepare for the emotional impact of moving away

Ironically, when you move you might be starting a whole new long-distance relationship – not with your partner this time, but with your friends and family.

Be prepared for the emotional impact of moving to be with your partner. If you can, have a going-away party for your loved ones, or at least see them all before you go to provide some closure. Strengthen those relationships that you want to maintain and let everyone know how you’ll be in touch and if/when you’ll be able to visit.

5. Discuss what support you need from your partner

Remember that whoever is moving is usually giving up a LOT to be with the other person. Your partner should be happy to do the work to help you ease any worries and feel at home in your new place.

Think about what you need during this time and let them know how they could help. For example:

  • Introducing you to their friends and people they know
  • Helping with the endless ‘life admin’ of moving
  • Encouraging you to pursue your passions and interests in your new city
  • Just being there to listen when things are difficult

6. Decide how you’ll handle moving costs

Depending on how far away you live, moving costs might run into the hundreds or even the thousands, including:

  • Getting a visa if necessary
  • Plane tickets
  • Transportation of your belongings
  • Any storage costs
  • If you have a pet, they will also need transporting

Research the costs well in advance of moving, and decide how you’ll handle the costs with your partner.

7. Build a life in your new city before you get there

One great way to avoid feeling like a total stranger in your new city/town is to start building a life before you arrive, during visits to your partner.

This could mean:

  • Networking for career opportunities
  • Making friends there
  • Getting to know the area

If you and your S.O. have synced up your lives in advance of your moving date, you have a better chance of settling in more quickly.


Related: 6 ways to sync up your lives in a long-distance relationship


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