How soon is too soon to move in?
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Historically, living with a partner before marriage was viewed as taboo. But today, public perception of unmarried couples living together has changed dramatically, especially among young adults. According to a 2018 survey from the U.S. Census, 15% of adults between the ages of 25-34 lived with an unmarried partner, compared to just 0.2% of adults in 1968.
The U.S. Census survey also found that, while more young adults are living with their partners before marriage, fewer young couples are getting married at all. As of 2018, 30% of adults between the ages of 18-34 were married, whereas 40 years ago, in 1978, nearly 60% of adults in the same age group were married.
Choosing to move in with a significant other is a big decision, regardless of your age or your views on marriage. It also depends on your relationship and your individual and joint plans for the future. If you’re wondering how soon is too soon to move in with your partner, here is some data and statistics that could help you make a decision one way or the other.
- Across adults of all ages, about 7% of unmarried couples live together. (U.S. Census)
- Over the last 20 years, the number of unmarried couples living together in the U.S. almost tripled, from 6 million to 17 million. (U.S. Census)
- Between 1996-2017, the number of interracial couples living together grew from 6% to 10%. (U.S. Census)
- In 1996, only 16% of unmarried partners had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2017, 28% of unmarried partners had reached the same level of education. (U.S. Census)
- 59% of adults between the ages of 18-44 have ever lived with an unmarried partner, whereas only 50% of adults in this age group have ever been married. (Pew)
- Most young adults are very accepting of unmarried couples cohabitating. Almost 80% of people between the ages of 18-29 think it’s acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together, even if they have no plans to get married. (Pew)
- More than 40% of unmarried couples living together say things are going very well in their relationship. In comparison, 58% of married couples report the same. (Pew)
- Roughly 55% of unmarried couples living together before marriage say they feel closer to their partner than to any other adult in their life. However, significantly more married couples (78%) feel the same way. (Pew)
- About four in 10 unmarried couples moved in together due to financial reasons and convenience. (Pew)
- More than 40% of unmarried couples living with their partner who are not currently engaged say they want to get married at some point in the future. (Pew)
In addition, the number of unmarried couples living together can vary significantly depending on factors like age, income and employment status. Below are some 2018 statistics from the U.S. Census for unmarried, opposite-sex couples based on key demographics:
- Roughly 20% of unmarried couples between the ages of 26-29 live together. This age demographic has the highest number of unmarried couples cohabitating, followed by couples between the ages of 30-34 (15.4%).
- Less than 7% of unmarried couples over age 65 live together.
- More than 31% of unmarried couples who live together have an age difference of one year or less. In more than 10% of unmarried couples who cohabitate, the male is more than 10 years older than the woman.
- 16% of males living with a partner before marriage make between $50,000-$74,999 per year. However, 15.8% have no income at all.
- 8% of females who are living with a partner before marriage have no income. Less than 4% of female partners earn over $100,000 per year.
- In 22.5% of unmarried couples living together, the male earns $10,000-$29,999 more than the female. Only in 5% of unmarried couples does the female earn $50,000 or more than the male partner.
- Statistically, White males and White females are the most likely to live with a partner before marriage.
- 5% of unmarried couples living together are both White alone, whereas 10.6% of unmarried couples living together are both Black alone. Only 1.8% of unmarried couples who live together are both Asian alone.
- More than 10% of unmarried couples who live together identify as different races.
- In about 60% of unmarried couples living together, both are employed. For comparison, less than 1% of unmarried couples living together are both in the labor force, but are currently unemployed.
- Almost 30% of females who live with their partner before marriage are unemployed.
- Over 21% of males who live with a partner before getting married are unemployed.
- 6% of males who are cohabitating with an unmarried partner have a high school degree. Roughly 22% of unmarried males living with a partner have a bachelor’s degree.
- Almost 30% of females living with a partner before marriage have a bachelor’s degree. The biggest group (31.5%) only have a high school degree.
- In 64% of unmarried couples who live together, neither person has a bachelor’s degree. Only 16% of cohabiting couples both have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- More than 10% of unmarried couples living together between the ages of 15-24 have at least one biological child under 18.
- Almost 90% of males living with a partner before marriage are employed if they have at least one child under 18 years old.
- 8% of females who live with their partner before marriage and have at least one biological child under 18 have a high school degree. For females with a bachelor’s degree or more, only 16.3% have a child under 18.
Data also shows that more same-sex couples are cohabitating before marriage. Below are a few statistics from the Same-Sex Couple Households: 2019 report, published by the American Community Survey (ACS).
- In 2019, roughly 42% of unmarried partners living together were same-sex couples.
- Among unmarried same-sex couples, data shows that there are more female couples than male couples living together.
- Washington, D.C., has the highest number of same-sex couples living together before marriage, at 7.1%. For comparison, the U.S. national average is 1.5%.
Where couples are living
Data shows that unmarried couples are more likely to live in a rented apartment than a single-family home. According to a study from RealPage, young couples make up roughly 5% of the total renter households in the U.S., based on a study of 11 million individual apartment leases. While the study doesn’t reflect data on unmarried couples specifically, trends in the data found that couples in this demographic are largely unmarried.
The RealPage study also identified where large swaths of unmarried couples are renting their homes. Portland, Oregon had one of the most notable clusters, with nearly 10% of young couples renting an apartment together. Denver, San Diego, Austin, Tampa and Seattle also had large percentages of young couples living together in a rented dwelling.
But while many unmarried young couples opt for rentals, other studies show that more couples are buying homes together before marriage. A report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that in 2021, 9% of home buyers were unmarried couples. Roughly 20% of unmarried couples who purchased a home with their partner were in the age bracket of 22-30 years old.
Despite these figures, NAR’s data found that more married couples and single individuals purchased homes than unmarried couples in 2021. For comparison, 62% of home buyers in 2021 were married couples and 18% were single females. 9% of home buyers in 2021 were single males, the same percentage as unmarried couples.
If you are thinking about buying a house with your partner before marriage, it’s a good idea to speak with a realtor and/or lender to understand your options for financing and ownership. For example, you will need to decide if one person will hold the title, or if you will have a joint title. You should also put the proper contractual protections in place in case you split up or one partner passes away.
Purchasing a home is a big responsibility, regardless of your relationship status. Before you move forward, it’s important to understand the costs involved, such as closing costs, private mortgage insurance (PMI) and homeowners insurance.
If you take out a mortgage to buy a home, your lender will probably require you and your partner to purchase home insurance. Home insurance protects the physical structure of your home, you and your partner’s belongings, personal liability, medical payments and loss of use. The average cost of home insurance in the U.S. is $1,383 per year for $250,000 in dwelling coverage, but you should get quotes to find the best rate for your situation.
Views on living together before marriage
Cohabitating with a partner before marriage is becoming more common, particularly among young adults. In 2019, 9% of people between the ages of 18-24 were living with an unmarried partner, compared to 7% of adults in the same age bracket living with a spouse. That means cohabitation is now more prevalent than living with a spouse among young adults.
Ultimately, the decision to move in with a partner before marriage is personal. It might be the right choice for one couple, but not for another. In addition, everyone has their own unique views on living together before marriage. Over time, public perception of cohabitating has changed dramatically, and today, more people are accepting of this type of living situation.
According to Pew Research, 78% of young adults between the ages of 18-29 say it’s acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together, even if they don’t plan to get married. However, more than half of these people agree that couples should get married if they plan to stay together long-term.
In addition, roughly half of adults in the U.S. believe that couples who live together before getting married have a better chance of a successful marriage than couples who move in together after marriage. Only 13% of adults say that couples who live together before marriage have a worse chance of having a successful marriage.