Years ago, Life was carefully orchestrated.  You graduated high school, got a job, found the perfect spouse, got married, bought a house and then had children.  When the children were grown and you reached the magical age of 62, you retired and perhaps headed off to Florida for some golf and fun with other seniors.

Life is not so carefully orchestrated now, and we must make financial decisions our parents never imagined.  As the average age of marriage increases, it’s quite likely that a couple each has a house or condo of their own when they start dating.

Now, couples don’t always wait to buy a house until their married.  Instead, they do so earlier.

When in your relationship should you look to buy property?  There’s no one-size fits all answer.  Your best answer depends on your financial goals and status as well as your tolerance for risk.

Buy a house together after you’re committed.  Sometimes you find someone, and you know he or she is The One for you.  However, you may not want to rush into marriage.  If you both own properties but spend all your time together, why not sell each of your properties and buy one together?  A mortgage calculator can be really handy to help you determine how much money each of you would save every month by staying in one jointly owned house versus each paying for your own.

Of course, this option is best for those who can handle risk.  There’s always the chance the relationship could go south, and if you’re not formally engaged or married, you might face a messy legal battle without the protection of the legalities of marriage.

Buy a house after you’re engaged.  A safer bet is to buy a house together after you’re engaged.  This is a good option because you can take care of selling your own properties and finding the perfect house before you’re married.  The downside, of course, is that you may be doing this during the same time you’re also planning for your wedding, which can make for some busy, chaotic days.

Buy a house after you’re married.  This option is best for those who are very risk adverse and conservative.  This is the safest financial bet because if your marriage were to end, you have the legal documents to help you break up in a less messy fashion than if you were only dating.  (Though many would rightly argue that a divorce is never less messy than a break up.)

The bottom line is that our society is much more open now.  You as a couple can choose when the right time is to buy a property together.  There’s no longer a societal script you must follow.

When do you think the best time to buy property together is?