Young couples move in together early to save on rent

For Caroline Li and Colin Wang, moving in together after eight months of dating was a matter of chance and urgency.

Last fall, Mr. Wang, 28, was finishing his final year of medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles, when he discovered that the two-bedroom apartment he shared with a roommate had a mold infestation. He had to move immediately, but had trouble finding a new place to live.

“It was really hard to find something that was reasonably close to campus and reasonably priced, and it was the middle of the school year,” said Mr. Wang, who had reached UCLA’s three-year limit on student housing, allowing him to pay $1,425 a month in rent instead of the market rate of $2,000 or more.

At the same time, Ms. Li, 24, a registered nurse, learned that one of her two roommates would be moving out of their $5,000-a-month, three-bedroom apartment near Santa Monica, Calif., halfway through their lease. Ms. Li and Mr. Wang realized they could solve their problems by having Mr. Wang move in with Ms. Li and her roommate.

Ms. Li and her roommate each pay $1,750 a month, and Mr. Wang pays $1,500.

“I think it was always the plan for Colin and I to move in once he finished his residency, not once he graduated from medical school,” Ms. Li said. “But I think the opportunity came sooner, and we were able to keep this apartment and save some money in the meantime.”

Ms. Li and Mr. Wang are among many young couples who are choosing to move in together early in their relationships to save money on housing and living expenses. Faced with low affordable housing inventory, fierce competition between buyers and renters, a slow decline in rents and rising mortgage rates, young people across the country are being forced to find creative ways to afford housing.

“Younger generations really need to look for ways to be frugal and reduce their housing costs, especially in big cities where rents are still very high and home prices are also very high,” said Hannah Jones, a senior economic research analyst for

According to a recent survey by, 80 percent of Gen Z respondents and 76 percent of Millennial respondents who moved in together said that finances and/or logistics played a role in their decision.

Ms. Li and Mr. Wang’s apartment is on the top floor of a mid-rise building, which has a gym. Their apartment has its own laundry room and updated equipment, and is close to the beach and major highways. They share the monthly cost of utilities and groceries equally with their other roommate.

“They actually let me make a little deal when I moved here because I didn’t have a salary until recently,” said Mr. Wang, who is just starting his education and has more than $200,000 in student debt for medical school.

Ms. Li and Mr. Wang said that since moving in together, they have improved their communication and become better at prioritising quality time together. But they continue to work on merging their lifestyles.

“Even with roommates, you have to respect each other’s boundaries and stuff,” Ms. Li said. “But when it’s your partner, I feel like the space you share is much more intimate.”

While sharing rent has its benefits, living together can pose challenges early in a relationship if a couple doesn’t yet understand each other’s communication styles and conflict-resolution skills, says Nicolle Osequeda, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Chicago.

“If there are significant differences and there is no foundation for how we talk about difficult things, whether it’s finances or something else, then that can exacerbate some of the stresses that you’re already feeling,” said Ms. Osequeda, who specializes in working with young adults and young couples through life transitions.

After seven months of dating, Kaitlin Cadagin, 26, and her 28-year-old boyfriend moved into a one-bedroom apartment in a downtown Chicago skyscraper.

Their apartment cost $2,400 a month to rent and offered a number of amenities, including a dog run, a conference room and in-unit laundry facilities. The couple decided to split their rent based on their incomes: Ms. Cadagin, an events manager, paid $1,000 a month and her boyfriend, a licensed attorney, paid the remaining $1,400.

“I went into it thinking, ‘I can afford $1,000 as my share of the rent,’” said Ms. Cadagin, who previously rented a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate in another area of ​​Chicago, where they each paid $900 a month.

When her roommate decided to move out, Ms. Cadagin said, she and her boyfriend decided that living together would be more cost-effective for Ms. Cadagin than renting an apartment alone. Ms. Cadagin said she could afford to live alone, but she wanted to save money by living with someone else.

“I started looking at master’s programs this year, so I’m always thinking about finances,” she says.

When it came to paying for utilities and groceries, the couple split the costs equally. However, keeping track of their shared finances hasn’t always been perfect, Ms. Cadagin said.

“He has his finances under control, and sometimes I don’t,” she said.

Ms Cadagin’s boyfriend, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, said that while they weren’t good at setting financial expectations before they moved in together, they had learned how to set better financial goals together and had become a stronger couple.

Ms Cadagin said that living with her boyfriend has been a positive experience overall and she feels their relationship still has room to grow.

“I think it’s definitely been a test of our relationship living together, but it’s also made it a lot stronger and I feel so comfortable with him,” she said.

But not all relationships survive after a new couple decides to move in together.

In June 2021, Eva Hersch, 26, and her boyfriend moved to Philadelphia together after a year of dating in New York City. In New York, they lived apart, with Ms. Hersch renting a small studio apartment for $2,000 a month and her boyfriend renting a small one-bedroom apartment for $1,900 a month — a “Covid deal” that would soon be increased to $3,200 a month.

When Mrs. Hersch was offered a job in Philadelphia, she convinced him to move with her. They settled on a two-bedroom apartment for $4,000 a month, splitting the rent equally.

“It was just so cheap compared to what we were each paying in New York City,” Hersch said.

Two years later, Mrs. Hersch and her boyfriend decided to end their relationship and move out of their apartment, which required them to terminate their lease.

Ms. Hersch, who now lives in Norwalk, Conn., said that moving in with her boyfriend at the time felt like “the right next thing to do.” They bought a car together and split the monthly payment equally; they also split the cost of utilities and groceries.

“It was a time when everyone did the same thing when they were in a relationship, because most of those people didn’t break up,” said Ms. Hersch, who added that moving in with her boyfriend taught her a lot about herself and what she wanted in a future relationship. Looking back, she said, she wishes they had waited longer to move in together.

“It was a good idea to try,” Ms. Hersch said. “It’s going to take a lot of effort to get back into a relationship now.”

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