How to Split Rent With Roommates

Roommates unpacking boxes.
Image Credit: Cathy Yeulet/Hemera/Getty Images

Dividing rent among roommates can involve simple math and painless negotiations. For example, if you find a three-bedroom rental and share a single bathroom with two other roommates, you each can chip in one-third of the rent. However, few homes and living arrangements are as easy to quantify. Nonidentical bedrooms and bathrooms and other issues to allocating rent often require more thorough calculation. One roommate might earn twice as much as the others and one might be messy and willing to pay more if he doesn't have to clean. Take all factors into consideration when coming up with a way to split rent with roommates.

Step 1

Get out your calculator and find a measuring tape. Your first challenge is to put a price tag on each bedroom. Measure the length and width of each one, then multiply the numbers you come up with. This is the square footage of the room. One may be 200 square feet, another 100, and the third bedroom might be 125. If any of the rooms have a private bath, include that square footage in the room's total -- the roommate who gets these quarters should pay more for that perk. Likewise, if one room has a balcony, the extra square footage should be factored in.

Step 2

Divide each room's square footage by the rental's overall square footage. If your entire apartment is 1,200 square feet, the 200 square foot bedroom takes up 16 percent of the overall living space. Calculate how much of the rent each room represents. If your rent is $1,750 a month, the largest bedroom would be worth $280, or 16 percent of $1,750.

Step 3

Figure out who takes which bedroom. This can be a matter of flipping coins if there are just two roommates sharing a two-bedroom apartment. Otherwise, you can draw straws or negotiate. If one roommate earns less income than the others, it might make the most sense for him to take the smallest bedroom. If one works the grave shift, he might want a room that's in the quietest area of the dwelling so he can get some sleep at times when everyone else is up and moving about.

Step 4

Calculate the rent for the common areas of the dwelling. If the bedrooms make up 425 square feet of the total 1,200 square feet, this represents 35 percent of the rent, or about $612. If there are three of you and three bedrooms, this would leave $1,138, and each of you would take responsibility for one-third of this. Add this number to the amount paid per bedroom. For example, if you take the largest bedroom, your share of the rent would come out to about $659 a month -- your bedroom's value of $280 plus $379. If three of you are squeezing into a two bedroom unit and two of you share a room, you can each take one half of that room's percentage of the rent total. You can split the cost of the common area in half if there are just two of you.

Tip

Some amenities can’t be reduced to a square footage equation. If one room has cable television but the others don’t, one roommate might be willing to pay more for that room than its square footage warrants.

You can also place a value on housekeeping duties. A roommate who is willing to regularly clean the home's common areas in exchange for lower rent may raise the other roommates' split but provide a valuable service worth negotiating. There’s no rule that says you can’t exchange services and labor for money, but be cautious and get it in writing.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure

  • Calculator

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