When you’re sharing an apartment with a roommate/roommates and you all get rooms that are equal in size and desirability and you all share the common space equally, splitting the rent and the bills isn’t that complicated. Most of the time, the rent is just divided by the number of roommates and everyone pays the same amount. However, when you end up renting a space where the rooms aren’t all the same size or one is more desirable in some way (has better windows/view, has an awesome closet, has a private bathroom, and so on…) it’s not so easy. Throw in the extra monkey wrench of sharing rooms and such, and it’s even harder to figure out who should pay what amount. Before you give yourself a headache trying to come up with a plan (you’d be amazed to hear the super complicated methods we’ve heard over the years) to divvy up the rent in a way that’s fair to everyone or jump into a heated roommate battle, let’s talk about easy ways to divide your apartment rent when the rooms are different in some way.
THE ROOMS ARE ALL DIFFERENT SIZE
Often, when you rent an apartment that has more than one bedroom, there will be at least one larger “master” bedroom. Sometimes, the biggest bedroom even has the benefit of having a private on-suite bathroom and a walk-in closet. If you’re in a renting a place where this is the case, here’s some suggestions for dividing the rent in a way that’s fair:
Everyone Pays by Square Footage | This is the most simplistic way to divide the rent when the bedrooms aren’t equal in size. Simply measure each bedroom (including closet areas and bathroom, if private to that bedroom), add up the square footage and calculate what percentage of total bedroom space each roommate will have. Apply that percentage to the total rent and you’ll have each roommate’s rent share. You do not need to consider the common areas at all, since each roommate will have equal right to use those areas.
Example: total bedroom area 500 sq.ft. and monthly rent $1,000.
Room 1: 250 sq. ft. (includes closet and private bath) = 50% of area, rent $500
Room 2: 150 sq. ft. (includes closet)= 30% of the area, rent $300
Room 3: 100 sq. ft. (includes closet)= 20% 0f the area, rent $200
Leave It To A Rent Calculating Tool. If you and the roomies aren’t fans of math, there’s also an easier way — an online rent calculator. There are plenty of good ones available on the web (and yes, they work even when the space isn’t divided evenly). Here’s some of our personal favorites: RoomieCalc.com, SplitWise.com, and Spliddit.com.
If you guys are having a hard time agreeing who should get which room, then we recommend using The Rent Is Too Damn Fair, an awesome website that let’s each roommate bid the max they’re willing to pay for each room in the apartment. After everyone bids, it computes the best, most economical arrangement and assigns rooms. It’s great because it’s fair and leaves the decision up to someone else!
ROOM ARE NOT EQUALLY DESIRABLE
If you end up in a situation where all the rooms are roughly the same size, but they aren’t all as desirable, i.e., one has a better shape, a cool brick wall, better natural light, then we recommend a two-step process:
1. Use a rent calculator to set the prices of the rooms. The three online tools we mentioned above will all take cool additional factors into consideration and will set the price accordingly.
2. Decide who gets each room. You can do that simply by drawing room assignments out of a hat, using the Rent Is Too Damn Fair bidding tool, or simply deciding together once the calculator has set prices. You never know when one roommate is willing to take a suckier room if it means paying less in rent. Whatever you do, don’t be bullied into taking a room you don’t want. And, don’t be the bully yourself.
SOME ROOMS WILL BE SHARED
Figuring out rent payments when some of the individuals share a room in the apartment is crazy hard to calculate on your own, unless you simply split by bedroom square footage and ignore the fact that one room is shared. So, once again, we 100% suggest using one of the handy dandy rent calculators we recommended. You can add details about the rooms, if one or more people are sharing the space, etc. and it computes a fair payment using the info you share. If you really wanted, you could likely figure out a deal together, but to keep things neutral and strictly non-personal, we’re all for deferring to the calculator above all else!
Readers with roomies — how have you tackled these issues in the past? Share in the comment section below!