The Cohabitation Nation: Why Couples Choose to Live Together

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According to recent studies, more people are opting for cohabitation over marriage. Is the recession to blame for the spike in people living together and delaying marriage? Or has the current state of marriage and divorce lead some to rethink and possibly forsake the grand institution of matrimony?

It’s true that the recession is hitting everyone hard and people are making sacrifices that will help stretch their limited budget. While cohabitation has been referred to as “living in sin” or “shaking up,” some couples are ignoring tradition and making living arrangements that agree with not only their wallets, but their personal beliefs as well.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people living together has almost doubled from 1999 to 2009, up to 7% from 4%. Couples from all walks of life make up that number, although there are more high school educated couples living together than college educated ones. Marriage does appear to be the ultimate goal of couple who live together as many of the benefits of living together fall outside of the financial realm. The reasons some couple choose to live under one roof include:

  • Couples are in love and living together allows them to spend more time together
  • They want to make sure they’re compatible before they marry. Many people believe that they could not marry someone if they don’t live with them first.
  • Some couples are already engaged and decide that moving in together before their wedding is best.
  • Other couples are saving money for a wedding and decide to live together in the meantime.
  • Many couples are spending most nights together anyhow and they decide to live together to avoid paying two rents.
  • They prefer not to marry or cannot legally marry
  • Many non-traditional couples would lose significant financial benefits if they were to marry. This situation is common for senior citizens (who may be likely to lose a pension from a deceased spouse if they re-married), disabled people and people on public assistance.

While living together may be tempting to help couples cut costs, considerations must be made on the type of living arrangement that would work best. Who will be responsible for the bills? How will expenses be split? Will upgrading to a bigger place or moving locations raise the cost of rent one is already paying separately? Is this situation primarily financially driven or is there are goal of marriage as a result of living together? What is the timeline for an engagement, marriage and children (if those are shared and mutually agreed upon goals)? All of those questions have to be taken into consideration when deciding to choose cohabitation.

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