Cohabitation is on the rise across the nation. In the U.S.A alone, the number of young and
middle-aged Americans who have cohabited has doubled in the last 25 years. Today, 66%
of married American couples lived together before officially tying the knot
.

In the UK, the number of cohabiting couple families has grown faster than married couples,
with an increase of 25.8% between 2008 and 2018.

This kind of progress is down to a few different societal factors, and it begs the question: will it continue? What does the next year hold for cohabitation? With this article, we’re going to find out. Despite using an American example in the introduction, we’re going to focus on cohabitation in the United Kingdom.

Why has cohabitation become so popular in the UK?

Here, we’re going to look at the factors which have contributed to the boom in popularity for
cohabiting and unmarried families.

The overall number of UK families has risen

As a starting point, the overall number of families in the UK has risen by 8% between 2008
and 2018. The specific number has risen from 17.7 million to 19.1 million. Alongside the
accompanying factors which we’ll look at shortly, the fact that the overall number of families
has risen goes to show that we are in a time of booming populations.

Attitudes are changing

Modern attitudes to family setups have long replaced the more traditional family values, and
far more families are now choosing to live together as an alternative to marriage. Plenty of
people in the UK now believe that marriage is less of an institution than it used to be.

In fact, marriages between men and women in the UK have fallen to record lows. Recorded
marriages dropped by 8,300 between 2018 and 2019, further indicating that the established beliefs of marriage and the subsequent home-making no longer hold as much sway.

Cohabitation is less of a commitment

Alongside the above, cohabitation is often viewed as less of a commitment as opposed to putting a deposit down for a home and being ‘tied’ to a mortgage. Also, there’s the prevailing opinion that renting and cohabiting with a partner before marriage and home-ownership is a
good way to test the relationship. It allows potentially young couples to see how they fare living together.

The rental market is a preferred alternative

Whether it’s couples, a group of friends or just complete strangers, the UK rental market has
become a preferred alternative for those who cannot afford a deposit for a home (just two
years ago, the average house deposit stood at £33,000, a number which continues to rise
year-on-year).

This rings particularly true for couples, as it flies in the face of the long-standing norm that you 1) marry and 2) buy a house. Weddings are an increasingly pricy enterprise, as is home-ownership. Cohabitation is affordable!

Will the number of unmarried couples continue to rise in 2020?

Although it’s impossible to tell, we’d put good money on the rate of unmarried couples
continuing to rise in 2020. With Brexit and the results of the recent General Election, the UK
is stuck in a quagmire of uncertainty where there is little activity when it comes to buying a
property.

Cohabitation agreements and increased security

Cohabiting couples are the fasted-growing family type in the UK, and over 10 years this trend has shown no signs of slowing. One of the biggest reasons for this growth is the added protection that these groups now have.

Cohabitation agreements allow cohabiting unmarried couples to protect themselves should
the unfortunate event of a break-up occur. Cohabitation solicitors such as Abacus Solicitors can assist with agreements as well as guidance on any disputes further down the line.

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