With rents in many cities skyrocketing, men and women marrying later and a divorce rate for first-time marriages that hovers at about 45%, it’s no wonder more American couples are deciding to shack up.

There were an estimated 6.02 million unmarried-partner households in the U.S. in 2006, according to the Census Bureau’s latest research. This number includes 779,867 same-sex households. When the census began measuring unmarried partners in 1996, there were only 2.86 million opposite-sex couples.

Though you likely know at least one cohabiting pair, unlike their married and single peers, unmarried couples are not an easy group to quantify. They cannot check the single or married box truthfully, and there is little but a shared address to signify their official commitment.

But couples who live together have needs, too. In the roundup of the best cities for couples, they’ve identified what this growing demographic requires to maintain a stable relationship while on the path to marriage or something less traditional. They selected the country’s 40 largest metropolitan areas and collected data on marriage and divorce rates for the 20- to 34-year-olds who live there, the affordability of a starter home, the area’s income disparity and the availability of family counseling. 

Dallas, the city made famous on television for its scheming lovers and dysfunctional relationships, topped the list. Four other Texas cities are in the top 10: Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Cities at the bottom of our list, with low marriage rates, high income disparity or poor housing affordability, included Cleveland, Providence, R.I., and Miami.

Top 5 cities for couples

  1. Dallas
  2. Houston
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Denver
  5. Austin, TX

You can see Forbes’ full slide show of best cities for couples hereFull Story