Splitting rent is a smart way to save money, allowing you to pay just a  fraction of the total cost of living. Renting with roommates means you can spend your money elsewhere, like saving for a rainy day, keeping up with your loans and debt payments, or saving up for a place of your own. Splitting rent with multiple people usually includes calculating and dividing the monthly rent of the apartment/house itself, the cost of utilities like water, gas, electricity, and internet, and also additional costs that might be added like a parking space fee or trash disposal fee.

When looking for places to rent with multiple people, it is also very important to make sure everyone’s budget can handle their portion of monthly expenses. Keep in mind, if one of them falls short on a payment, rent still needs to be paid and their portion will be coming out of your pocket. Knowing each of your potential roommates’ personal budgets can also assist in the process of looking for places to rent and deciding which method of rent splitting to use.

Here are some rent splitting methods you might want to use, as well as suggestions for how to split your utilities and additional costs:

Rent Split Evenly

The first option is of course the simplest way to split rent. Take the monthly cost of renting your living space and divide it by the number of residents. For example, in a $2000 per month apartment with 4 people, rent would be $500 per person. This method works fine for friends who are not too picky about small details like square footage and spend a lot of time in common spaces like the living room or kitchen.

Rent Split by Square Footage

Splitting rent evenly is by far the most common option. However, sometimes certain circumstances arise where splitting rent by square footage makes more sense. Some common situations where rent split by square footage is necessary is when there is a difference in size or layout of bedrooms. In many cases, at least one bedroom could include an attached bathroom, which is very desirable and would likely warrant an increased payment. Keep in mind that not all apartments/houses are built symmetrically, with rooms the same exact size. To be fair for everyone, splitting rent by square footage may be the most appropriate option

This situation happened to me in my third year of college. The 2 bedroom apartment that my three roommates and I found consisted of a master bedroom/bathroom, and a regular bedroom/bathroom. The master bedroom was significantly larger than the regular room and for those who ended up sleeping in the regular room, paying a quarter of the costs would simply not be fair.

We decided to split our rent based on the square footage of the bedroom plus bathroom that we would be using. My roommate and I would be using the master bedroom and bathroom for a total of 180 square feet. My other two roommates would use the regular bedroom and bathroom for a total of 165 square feet. Our total apartment rent was exactly $2500 per month. This is how we calculated our individual rent portion:

180 + 165 = 345 total bed and bath square footage

$2500 / 345 = $7.24 per square foot

180 * $7.24 = $1303.20 which is what my roommate and I had to pay (so $651.60 each)

165 * $7.24 = $1194.60 which is what my two other roommates paid ($597.30 each)

Since we were all friends, we ended up rounding to even numbers. So in the end, my roommate and I, in the master bed and bath, paid $650 per month in rent and my two other roommates paid $600 per month in rent.

In my fourth year of college, we found a friend to live in the living room. This is something I would recommend if you are short on money because it will save you a lot of money in the long run. This friend agreed to occupy exactly half of the living room, which was just shy of 100 square feet. Splitting rent by square footage is also appropriate in this situation because of the difference in size of living spaces.

So, using our same formula, we did:

$2500 / 445 = $5.62 per square foot

180 * $5.62 = $1011.6, or $505.80 for my roommate and I in the master bed/bath

165 * $5.62 = $927.30 or $463.65 for my roommates in the regular bed/bath

100 * $5.62 = $562 for the living room roommate.

Again, being friends, we round the numbers evenly, becoming $505, $465, and $560

rent with roommates, splitting rent
Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Splitting Utilities

Splitting utilities is actually very straightforward. Utilities usually consist of gas, electricity, water, and WiFi. At my college apartment complex, the monthly rent covered gas and water so we only had to worry about electricity and WiFi. For these two utilities, we kept it simple and split the cost by number of people. Splitting the cost by each person’s kilowatt per hour usage is too much of a hassle to do and is likely not worth the effort.

Other potential costs

At the college apartment complex, the first two parking spaces were free based on the number of rooms in your apartment, but any additional parking space after that cost $100 extra per month. In a two bedroom apartment of 5 people, only three of us drove cars including myself, one of the roommates with the regular bed/bath, and the roommate residing in the living room. Since parking spaces were granted by the number of rooms, my living room roommate felt it would be fair if he paid the full $100 for the parking space since he was a late addition, but I have seen many other situations where the cost is split between everyone with cars or everyone in the apartment. Those small details of how to divide costs will ultimately be up to you and your (future) roommates to decide.

Conclusion

When deciding how to split rent with your roommates, whether it is splitting evenly, by square footage, or another method, it is important that you and your roommates come to an agreement before settling in. Make sure everyone is on board and happy with how rent is split so you can prevent quarrels in the future. Next, make sure every roommate is able to pay their monthly share. If one of them unexpectedly falls short, rent still has to be paid and their portion will be coming out of your pocket. Making sure that each roommate is capable of making their dues each month will also save a potential headache down the road. Lastly, make sure your method of splitting rent is put into writing and signed by all parties. This will ensure that, if a dispute does arise, there is official documentation of how much each person is responsible for. This also helps your apartment complex and landlord figure out who is at fault if there is a short payment in the future.