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Couples in Cohab: More Are Unmarried and Living Together

Living in New York City I know several unmarried couples who prefer to live together, not only because they want to take the relationship to the proverbial "next level," but also because it means hundreds of extra dollars in their pockets each month.

In some circles, living with your boyfriend or girlfriend may be considered unorthodox. But in the most expensive city in the country, it has a major financial incentive: less rent. At last check the average price for a one-bedroom in Manhattan was $1,800 per month, according to Citi Habitats, the City's biggest apartment rental firm.

In fact, more unmarried couples across the country are moving in together. According to data from the Census Bureau, the number of opposite-sex unmarried couples sharing a home rose by 13% this year to 7.5 million. There were also about 620,000 same-sex couples living together. Most unmarried roomies live in southern states (38%) - where, according to the Census, poverty is a bigger problem than anywhere else in the country. Some of these couples surveyed are also living under one roof with parents as well.

Another potential benefit to cohabitation: You may be able to piggyback on one another's health insurance. As I wrote in a previous post, one alternative way to bank on health care is to move in with your partner, since some health care plans and employers extend coverage even to opposite-sex domestic partners.

One big piece of advice for anyone living together unmarried with an opposite-sex partner: Keep your finances separate, at least until you're ready to make a greater commitment. It's fine if you're both on the lease, but avoid cosigning credit cards, becoming authorized users on each other's cards, or closing your own savings account to form a joint account. Of course, you will have shared costs like rent, utilities, furniture and perhaps food, so be clear on your joint financial obligations - but from there, divide and conquer to maintain your financial independence.

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