Your 20s are a decade for big decisions (good ones and bad ones). And if you’re in a serious relationship, the question of “When should we move in together?” starts to loom over your head amidst all the other life planning you’re doing. Should you live apart until (if?) you tie the knot? Or is there some truth behind “Try it before you buy it”?
Rent.com recently conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,000 cohabiting renters, which revealed some interesting beliefs about cohabitation:
- 27% of respondents moved in with their partner after dating for less than six months
- But only 7% of them recommend this (trouble in paradise?)
- 37% of respondents said moving in after dating for six months to one year is ideal
- 18% said couples should wait until after marriage to live together
- 32% said living together helped them decide if their partner was “the one”
The stats on cohabiting go back and forth. Some studies have shown that living together before marriage increases a couple’s chance of divorce. Others have pointed out that it’s all about the decision-making process: The National Marriage Project points out that couples making an intentional decision to shack up are more likely to live happily ever after than those who just kind of slid into it. One other study from March 2014 had a more modern conclusion: The age you are when moving in with your significant other matters more than whether or not you’re legally hitched.
Study author Arielle Kuperberg, an assistant sociology professor at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said she found previous research overstated the divorce risk of cohabiting before marriage, because none of it factored in the age at which unmarried couples decided to move in together. She reported that while the average age that cohabiting couples tend to shack up is lower than the average age of those who wait to move in until after they’ve said their vows, when comparing married and nonmarried couples of the same age, there’s no difference in divorce rate. In fact, getting married too early can be equally as detrimental. Said Kuperberg: “Early entry into marriage or cohabitation, especially prior to age 23, is the critical risk factor.”
Twenty-three is the suggested age because this is usually when people are out of college and figuring out their life plans. If you make decisions and move in with your partner before you’ve got your own shit figured out, it makes sense you’d be more likely to break up down the line. But there really is no magic age—you have to do some deciding for yourself. Now, I’m no relationship expert or psychologist. But it’s easy to conclude that it all comes down to maturity — yours and your partner’s. Maturity levels vary greatly from person to person, so it’s impossible to put a one-size-fits-all label on cohabitation. I know plenty of 23-year-olds who are just as (if not) more mature than some 30-year-olds I know. So if you’re wondering if the time is right, the only person who can answer that is you. However, the folks at Rent.com put together a handy quiz, that clarifies the obvious questions you should be asking yourself.
Deciding to move in with my boyfriend was the best decision I’ve made so far in my 20s. Whether or not our pre-marital cohabitation has doomed us to future divorce (we moved in together right before turning 24), I have yet to find out. But we were two mature adults making a well thought-out decision, and so far, so good. I guess if our relationship does go down in flames, I’ll have something to blame it on. But the Rent.com quiz told me “Yes!” we’re ready to move in, so I think I’m in the clear.