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Photo: Cody McComas/Flickr

If that drawer you were gifted at your significant other’s apartment has turned into half a dresser, and your toothbrush is now a permanent fixture in their medicine cabinet, it might be time to consider cohabitation. Moving in with a partner is a major relationship milestone, and both parties are likely to feel nervous in the weeks leading up to the big day.

To ease these tensions, it’s best to purge your belongings and get organized well before the U-Haul truck arrives. “I’ve been in this business for 13 years, and I am no longer surprised at how little in advance people plan for this sort of thing,” says Josh Cohen, the Founder and CEO of Junkluggers, an eco-friendly junk removal company that operates franchised locations across the United States.

If you’re about to make the leap into mutually agreed upon television shows and a never ending pile of laundry, follow these seven pieces of advice for a smooth move.

1. Take inventory of your belongings.

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Photo: Laura D’Alessandro/Flickr

If you and your partner have been living on your own for some time, you’re likely to have duplicates of furniture and other housewares. “That’s where the battles begin,” warns Cohen. Make a list to determine which items you’re going to keep, considering factors such as size, quality and condition. Ask yourselves important questions like, “Is this couch going to fit through the doorframe?”, “In how many months will this particle board coffee table break in half?” and, “Where did this stain on your mattress come from?”

2. Decide what to keep, recycle, donate or toss.

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Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Once you’ve selected the furniture, appliances and decor that you’ll have in your new apartment, it’s time to split up the remaining items into four piles. “If it lacks sentimental value, then you should get rid of it,” suggests Cohen. While it may be tempting to throw all of your significant other’s junk into a garbage bag, it’s best to donate and recycle as much as possible. “Tax write-offs are a big benefit of donating to charity, but you’ll also have peace of mind that your stuff isn’t headed for a landfill — it’s getting a new life,” says Cohen. It’s important to know what items can and cannot be recycled. “You can’t recycle finished wood which, unfortunately, is most of the wood out there,” says Cohen. Consult your city’s government website or browse this handy recycling guide if you’re still unsure.

3. Be willing to compromise.

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Photo: Chloe Muro/Flickr

If you’re signing a lease together, chances are you’re going to be stuck with one another for six months to a year. Why sabotage your relationship before you even move in? If you absolutely must hold onto your treasured stamp collection, don’t give your SO grief about their taxidermy parakeet. And if you still can’t come to an agreement on which furniture items to keep “you can always get rid of both duplicates and opt to buy something new,” says Cohen.

4. Create a layout.

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Photo: Denny Yu/Flickr

“Draw out the apartment floorplan and take note of the square footage of each room,” suggests Cohen. Have a game plan going into your move to ensure that the scale of your furniture is appropriate for the new space. If you’re not much of an artist, there are tons of free apps that will help you to decide on a layout before you get started with the heavy lifting.

5. Label absolutely everything.

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Photo: Meathead Movers/Flickr

“When you’re packing up boxes, label them by room and write down a simple bullet list of all the items that are in the box,” says Cohen. This will save you from major headaches when it’s time to unpack. Numbering your boxes helps, too — that way you can make sure nothing was left behind. Cohen also suggests unpacking as a team, “You’ll both know where things are and can avoid yelling at eachother like, ‘Where did you put this?!’

6. Acknowledge that moving sucks.

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Photo: Nicola Romagna/Flickr

“Before the big day, talk to your partner about the fact that moving is incredibly stressful,” says Cohen. A British study found that the majority of people find moving house to be more emotionally taxing than a breakup, divorce or starting a new job. “Agree to take things with a grain of salt and try to work together — hopefully you’ve hired good movers!” jokes Cohen.

7. Think of a storage unit as a last resort.

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Photo: Meathead Movers/Flickr

We’ve seen enough episodes of Storage Wars to know that most people don’t take full advantage of their storage units. “If you’re at eachother’s throats and you’re really having trouble decluttering, then at least temporarily, I would consider storage space,” says Cohen. “One downfall I would warn people about is that we get a lot of calls to clear out storage units. Often people fill them up because they’re afraid to let go of things, but then they end up paying thousands of dollars in monthly fees to store belongings they don’t necessarily need.”

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