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Cost-cutting cohabitation: Aussies rush romance to save on housing costs

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Australian couples are bunking up quicker than planned to reduce bill pain, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 441 renters revealed 15% have moved in with a partner earlier than expected.

The research found 1 in 10 (10%) have shacked up earlier than planned to make rent more affordable – equivalent to more than 290,000 households who have rushed romance to counteract the spiralling cost of living.

The data shows 3% moved in to improve their chances of rental or home loan approval, while 2% decided to share bed and board for other reasons.

Sarah Megginson, money expert at Finder, said the cost of living has forced many Australians – particularly young people – to make some tough decisions.

"Rising costs are becoming a big concern for Australians, with many struggling to find affordable housing.

"It's not surprising to see this rental crunch is prompting some people to turn to alternative living situations to cut down on expenses."

Young people are more likely to have moved in with their better half earlier than expected – 1 in 3 (29%) gen Z have rushed romance, compared to 17% of millennials.

Megginson said it's a marriage of convenience that could turn sour very quickly.

"Lenders are really strict on lending money to borrowers if they don't think you'll be able to manage repayments – it's baked into the responsible lending act, so they have a lot of guidelines to follow around how much they can responsibly lend to you.

"Couples are more frequently pairing up to increase their chances of approval, but if the relationship goes south, it could be extremely complicated for individuals to part ways."

Women (19%) were more likely than men (11%) to move in with their partner ahead of schedule, the research showed.

Megginson encouraged partners to understand each other's spending and saving behaviours prior to applying for a loan together.

"You probably won't discuss debt on the first date! But there needs to be an open discussion before things get serious.

"Learn about how the person you're dating manages debt and their money habits in general before you move in together."

Megginson added that you don't want to find out your partner has a big credit card debt or expensive personal loan that drains their finances, and makes it tricky for you to share living expenses.

"It can be hard to reach financial goals as a couple if you have very different approaches to money management, which is why these conversations are so important.

"Signing a lease or a mortgage is a huge step to take with a significant other, so don't rush the arrangement just to reduce hip pocket pain," Megginson said.

Have you moved in with a partner earlier than you expected?
No, I don’t have a partner39%
Yes, to make rent more affordable10%
Yes, to improve my chances of rental or home loan approval3%
Yes, for another reason2%
Source: Finder survey of 441 renters, March 2023

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