The Housing Crisis Is Impacting Dating - Here's How

If words like "rent" and "mortgage payment" make you shudder, you're not alone. All around the world, people are experiencing a housing crisis, and by 2025, 1.6 billion people are expected to be impacted by the ongoing shortage of affordable housing, according to the World Economic Forum. In countries like the United States, people are already struggling. Currently, the U.S. lacks 7.3 million affordable homes needed by low-income renters. Even among the middle class, it's becoming increasingly tough to afford housing. Based on data from the Federal Finance Housing Agency, USAFacts reported that home prices increased 74% between 2010 and 2022, while the average wage rose only 54% during the same period. Put simply, it's becoming more and more difficult to pay for the roof over your head.


The housing crisis can spawn a lot of problems, like having to give up living in a desirable neighborhood or dealing with a longer commute to work, but one problem you might not have considered is its effect on dating. From bringing your date home for the first time to moving in with your significant other, your living situation can play a role in your romantic relationships. And when your housing options are limited, you might find that your dating options become limited too.

More relationships are rushed

Living with a partner before marriage was practically unheard of just a few decades ago, but those old-fashioned standards don't fit many modern couples. While these changing norms aren't necessarily a bad thing, moving in together quickly might hurt your relationship if you agree to shack up earlier than you originally planned.


With the housing crisis looming over many couples' financial decisions, rushing into living together has become commonplace. Miriam Tierney, a senior communications manager at SpareRoom, told The Face that nearly one out of four people surveyed by the website admitted they would consider moving in with a partner earlier than planned to cope with rising costs. "It makes sense – two people sharing a room means half the rent," Tierney explained. "But those decisions shouldn't be driven by the housing market."

Sharon Sassler, co-author of "Cohabitation Nation" and a sociology professor at Cornell University's Brooks School of Public Policy, agrees, telling The New York Times, "If couples are deciding to live together because it is cheaper and they might as well, they may come to realize that they rushed the relationship." Then, you might find that you're sharing a bed and fighting over dirty dishes with someone you're not so compatible with.


Money matters when choosing partners

Love or money? With the housing crisis underway, you might not want to settle for just one or the other. More and more, money is becoming a factor for singles choosing a significant other. A 2022 survey by the dating app Bumble (via Mashable) found that one in five daters cared more about being with a financially stable partner at the time of the survey compared to the start of the year. Another 2023 survey by banking company NatWest revealed that a love interest's good financial health was considered to be more important than their political beliefs, how physically attractive they are, or even whether or not they want to get married and start a family.


The current economy might make financial compatibility especially appealing, but Orna Guralnik, psychologist and star of the documentary series "Couples Therapy," argues that relationships and finances have always been intertwined. "The whole concept of marriage has always been, to some degree, an economic arrangement," Guralnik explained to The Guardian. The relationship expert added that rather than ignoring how the housing crisis might be influencing your relationship needs, you and your dates "should be talking about it really honestly, and understand [your] relationship is also partially material-based — not to try to avoid that layer of things."

Living with family can get in the way of romance

Years ago, a post-college-aged adult living with their parents would have been stereotyped as a lazy, spoiled freeloader, but these days, co-living with family is simply treated as a practical move to save money in a difficult economy. Research by discovered that one in eight millennials decided to move back in with their parents in 2022, primarily due to high rental costs, unemployment, and other financial strains. Young adults have also been affected: In 2020, Pew Research Center found that over half of 18-to-29-year-olds shared a home with one or both parents.


Even if living with family is becoming more common, there's still a stigma, and some romantic matches may not want to date someone who calls mom or dad their housemate. Even if your significant other is totally okay with the arrangement, there are real issues to consider. Relate counselor Holly Roberts told Refinery29, "[Those who live with family] don't have the privacy to explore an intimate and sexual relationship with the ever-lurking presence of parents [...] which can inhibit a natural expression of love and leave people feeling stuck and frustrated." Depending on your approach, this could lead you to carefully schedule dates and hangout sessions with your boo — or swear off dating altogether until you're able to live independently again.


Arguments about money are on the rise

Money can be a tough subject, and approaching your partner about money issues takes some finesse. Throw in a cut-throat housing market, and arguments about money are bound to increase. A 2023 survey by British wealth and retirement solutions provider Aviva found that a little over a quarter of couples argued about finances at least weekly, and 12% reported that their arguments had increased significantly in response to the cost-of-living crisis.


As Alix Fox, a sex educator, explained to Cosmopolitan, "If you have access to money, that gives you access to more security and things that ease day-to-day life. You are more likely to have a comfortable, private, and safe living situation. Your relationships might be easier because you're less stressed about cash, so you're not arguing about paying the bills." Fox also noted that financial issues can interfere with couples' sex lives and quality time together, which could result in more conflict and lower relationship satisfaction.

Some couples in strained relationships are staying together

With the demand for affordable homes exceeding the supply, you might have to compete with other renters — in the form of bidding wars and a pristine application — just to have a shot at finding a place to live. So if you're already living with a romantic partner but caught in a rocky relationship, you might decide it's easier to stick it out to save cash. "Once you move in with someone, it becomes much harder to break up with them," Arielle Kuperberg, an associate professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of North Carolina, told The New York Times. "You'd have to find a new apartment, you might have to break a lease or even awkwardly stay in the same place with your ex."


You could try downgrading your relationship status to "post-breakup roomies," but living with an ex might interfere with your ability to move on, meet new people, or hook up with a new crush. And, worst of all, you could become trapped in an abusive relationship if financial dependence is a factor. Staying in a toxic relationship might seem like a good idea to make ends meet, but don't overlook the other costs that come with continuing to live together.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support on their website.