The question of how to split rent can be a tricky one. Roommates may be reluctant to risk conflict by proposing an alternative to the standard 50-50 split. If you're wondering how to split your rent fairly, here are some ideas that can help you negotiate your rent share. Whether you split your rent based on the size of your rooms or the size of your incomes, you can find a way to please everyone.
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Consider the Rooms
One easy way to figure out a fair way to split the rent is to consider the relative size and quality of the rooms. If you and a roommate are sharing a two-bedroom place but one bedroom is spacious and light-filled while the other is cramped and dark, you may want to take that into account when you split the rent.
You can split the rent according to the square footage of the rooms, but it's also worth considering other factors, like proximity to the bathroom (or whether one room has a private bathroom), closet space, etc. Don't forget heating and cooling. If one room is freezing in the winter and/or boiling in the summer, the person occupying the room probably shouldn't have to pay as much in rent.
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Share Your Incomes
No, we don't mean "share your incomes" as in give each other money. We mean talk about how much each of you makes. Talking about your salary with a friend or a relative can be awkward. And that feeling may be amplified when it comes to talking to a roommate you found on Craigslist or another roommate finder. But here's the thing: It's worth sharing your incomes if you want to be sure you're splitting the rent fairly.
Let's say you both started renting the apartment and rent was financially comfortable for both of you. One year later, you've just renewed your lease. One of you is making six figures while the other is in a dry patch with freelance work.
In a case like that, you may want to adjust the way you split the rent. Here's an idea. Add all your incomes together and then calculate what percentage each of you brings to the income table. Then multiply the total rent owed by each person's percentage to get the rent each person should pay.
Here's an example for two roommates. Jordan makes $60,000 and Kim makes $45,000. $60,000 + $45,000 = $105,000. Their total rent is $1,800. Here's what Jordan would pay: 60,000/105,000 = 0.571 (or 57%). That's the percentage of the rent that Jordan would pay, assuming the two rooms are pretty much equal in quality. 0.571 x 1,800 = 1,027.80.
Kim would pay the difference, or $1,800 – $1,027.80. That's $772.20. If either of the two roommates experiences a salary change, they can redo the calculation and adjust how much rent each person pays. This method depends on the goodwill of all the roommates, and appeals to their sense of fairness. It may not work in all cases, though. If your salary dips and you can't negotiate your way into paying a reduced share of the rent, you may need to find another place.
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Consider the Extras
Sometimes, splitting the rent fairly isn't just about who has the better room and who makes more money. Is one of you covering the utilities and the wifi? If so, that person may be entitled to pay less in rent.
Does one of you have a partner who's always staying over, using the shared groceries, hogging the hot water and making a mess? If so, that person might want to pony up for more of the rent. Or you could split the rent per person, so each member of a couple would pay for their share. It's important to talk it over until you find a solution that leaves everyone feeling like they're paying an amount that's fair.
Deciding how to pay the rent fairly is an ongoing process. As incomes change and people come and go, you can expect to revisit the issue. However, if you're looking for an apartment, it's probably best to assume the price won't budge too much. In other words, it's not a good idea to look at apartments that are way out of your budget, hoping that you'll be able to negotiate a much lower rent.
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