Does Living Together Before Marriage Save you Money?

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In the spirit of Valentines Day, I thought I would write about the idea of living together before getting married. Before you tie the knot and spend $20,000 to $40,000 on a wedding, why not “test drive” living together and see if it will work BEFORE you plunk down $40,000 for that one day of happiness? I know, I know. Very romantic of me.  I am pragmatic, what can I say.

According to Statistics Canada:

The latest estimates from Statistics Canada in 2008 suggest that 38 per cent of married couples in Canada will divorce by their 30th wedding anniversary (divorce beyond that point is rare). The percentages range from 22 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to 48 per cent in Quebec. In the U.S., the figure is 44 per cent.

In my family studies class that I took back in university, I read that people who live common law have a higher rate of divorce.  The argument for this is that if you live common law and you and your partner fight about the same things over and over, some people believe that when they get married, these problems will magically disappear.  Hence couples divorce when they realize that those problems that weren't fixable didn't go away with the $40,000 celebration.

We test drive cars before we buy them, we try on clothes before we buy them, now why wouldn't we try out living together before we get married?

Some people have strong feelings against cohabitation.  For example, for religious reasons it is not accepted for some to live together before marriage.  Some may argue that people are in their prime in their 20's and should not be tied down and codependent on another.

On the other hand, with rent and mortgages being so expensive and unaffordable nowadays, it can be difficult to pay for this with just one income.  Often you would need another person contributing to the rent or mortgage in order to not have to pay more than 32% of your monthly pay.  Also, with the recession going down, many people are finding that they just simply cannot afford to live or retire by themselves.  Spending so much money on a wedding and paying for divorce proceedings can be… put simply, costly.

A middle ground to this is to move in together upon engagement- before all the wedding spending.  That way, if the relationship falls apart, you won't have to deal with losing that money on the one day.  Every relationship is different though.  What may work for one relationship may not work for another.

Mr. youngandthrifty and I have been talking about moving in together.  We're not planning to get hitched until a few more years down the road (maybe 1-2?), but do want to ‘test it out' before we say “I do”.  I have mild mixed feelings about moving in together before we get married, and would PREFER to be like Beyonce, and tell him “if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”.  We have been dating for almost five years and have gone traveling together (TIP: travel together to see if your relationship works– it's a really good predictor!  When you're traveling, you're jet-lagged, hungry, cranky, constipated (sorry to mention this, but it's true), have different traveling styles.. if your relationship can tough that out, then you're pretty much good to go!) and know each other pretty much inside out.  We are thinking of buying a place together (let's face it, I can't afford anything non-closet sized with my lone-income).  In a later post, I'll talk more about some important things you need to think about before living together…property and assets-wise.

What do you think? Do you think living together is a good idea before the wedding?  Why?  Do you think there is a ‘middle ground' to this?  Are you planning to wait or are you a happy ‘cohabitator'?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.


  1. Mrs. Money on February 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I definitely think it does! But I will say that I did it before I was married. 🙂
    .-= Mrs. Money

  2. krystalatwork on February 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    J and I both feel very strongly that you should live together before getting engaged/married. Because you don’t really fully know someone until you live with them. Until you see them at their worst, see their every day habits, see how they LIVE. It’s completely different and can definitely make or break a relationship.

    We moved in together after 1.5 years of dating, and after almost a year of living together, we both still know that marriage is in the future.
    .-= krystalatwork

  3. young on February 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    @krystalatwork Good point re: you have to see how they live. Thanks for the advice- I feel more confident now about this moving out thing now… though I’ll have to somehow convince my family that this is the norm now! (They’re kind of traditional).

    @MrsMoney So 2 ‘yay’ for living together before marriage so far =)

  4. Four Pillars on February 14, 2010 at 12:54 am

    You definitely have to live together

  5. young on February 14, 2010 at 12:57 am

    @Four Pillars We’ve got a guy’s perspective now! It seems quite unanimous so far for YES to living together before marriage. I’ll keep you guys updated on what mr. youngandthrifty and I decide to do. =)

  6. Financial Samurai on February 17, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Divorce by their “30th wedding anniversary”? WOW! Who lasts that long? Thought it would be like 90% since we’ll all be dead. 🙂
    .-= Financial Samurai

  7. young on February 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Lol! You’re right, these days people can’t even last.. 5 years! Well, hopefully we don’t all die off in our 60’s and 70’s! The median life span in North America is in the mid 80’s ain’t it? =)

  8. Alicia on February 7, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I don’t think you really emphasized the financial standpoint of this topic. I did a post relating more to the financial standpoint on my blog, but otherwise, very informational! I made sure to link your post.…riage.html

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