How to Calculate and Split Rent with Roommates

roommates splitting rent

Depending on what stage you are in life, you might find yourself living with roommates. Whether you are moving in with your BFF, willing to risk a random roommate to save some cash (the internet is a powerful beast, tread carefully), or you just don’t want to live alone, there are some things to consider when choosing the right household partner.

Making sure you and your roommates are a great match is important. Are you on the same page when it comes to cleanliness, or do you freak out if dishes are left in the sink? Do your lifestyles and personalities mesh or clash? Do you share hobbies or interests? Will you be paying the same amount of rent?

These are all important things to consider when choosing a roommate that can go a long way in ensuring a healthy and peaceful housing situation.

Assuming you found the perfect roommate and a great rental, now you must decide who gets the master bedroom with the en-suite bathtub and who gets the guest bedroom next to the laundry room.

Also, how do you split the rent with roommates fairly when not all rooms are created equal? We thought you might ask, so we supplemented our collective experiences at Zuby with some research to help you figure it out.

Once you find your approach, check out how you and each of your roommates can pay your rent online.

Simplest Approach – Talk it Through

This approach has worked for many roommates in the past and the key here is that you and your new roommate must be comfortable with being open and direct with one another. This is why this method usually works best if you are living with friends or relatives.

To figure out a fair split of the rent, think about the overall monthly rent and how much more than your roommate you would be willing to pay for the better room. Once you have a figure in mind, bring it up to your roommate and then discuss it like adults.

The typical result is that one of you will be willing to pay more than the other for the luxury of a private bathroom or for the pleasure of taking hot baths every now and then, and that’s who will end up taking and paying more for the better bedroom.

Other factors to consider baking into your monthly rates are individual uses of things like utilities, internet, cable, or if one of you has furniture to contribute to the living spaces, for example.

This approach is simple enough if it works, but what if you still can’t agree, or don’t feel comfortable enough with each other to talk it out?

Numbers Don’t Lie – Let’s Check the Tape

This approach is pretty straight forward and requires some simple math. Stick with me.

Here is how to split rent with roommates based on space:

  1. Calculate the square footage of each bedroom, including bathrooms and any other space that goes with it, by measuring the length of a room and multiplying by its width.
  2. Divide the total square footage for each room by the total for both of your spaces, leaving out common areas such as living rooms and the kitchen.
  3. Multiply the resulting percentage by the total monthly rent to figure out each room’s share.

So if, for example, the master suite is 850 sq. ft. and the guest bedroom and bath are 600 sq. ft., the master accounts for 59% and the guest for 41%.

If the monthly rent is $2,200, the person in the master pays $1,290, and the person in the guest pays $910. Easy, foolproof approach to taking the tension out of the process.

What if you don’t feel like doing the math yourself? Use a rent calculator!

Basic Rent Calculators

There are a number of online rent calculators available on the internet that will help you split the total rent based on a number of variables. These variables can include square footage, total roommates, whether the rent is prorated, and many more.

This approach is basically the same as splitting the rent by square footage, except it performs the calculations for you. Whether you do it yourself or use an online calculator, this method typically results in a fair allocation of the rent that will make all of the roommates happy.

Sometimes though, one of the rooms might have a unique feature with a value that won’t be fairly reflected just by calculating room sizes, such as a private balcony with a great view. In such cases, it makes sense to factor in the preferences of each roommate in addition to the physical characteristics of each room.

So how do you factor in personal preferences? Let’s continue.

Get Nerdy – Sperna’s Lemma

A few years ago, a distinguished gentleman by the name of Francis Edward Su took his friend’s rent splitting dilemma pretty seriously. Actually very seriously, and maybe a little too seriously.

Francis wasn’t having any of our simple math, so he turned to not-so-simple math for his answer.

Basically, his method involves mapping out all the room splitting scenarios into little triangles that calculate each person’s share of the rent based on their perceived values, preferences, and self-interest (the NY Times did their best to simplify).

This results in an elegant solution to splitting rent with roommates, but having to read a thesis paper and bust out the rulers just to figure out how to split rent amongst friends seems like a bit overkill.

Luckily for you – someone did all the reading for you and created an online tool based on this theory!

Thank You, Spliddit!

The good people at Spliddit took the time to apply the logic behind Sperna’s Lemma into their easy to use online tool.

The process is simple: one of you signs up all the roommates using their emails, then each of you gets an email with a link to input how much you think the rent for each room should be.

Once everyone fills out their preferences, Spliddit provides you with the final result, meeting everyone in the middle and explaining how it was all calculated.

This is a great way to make sure everyone’s happy without any awkward moments or having to dust off your old T-89 calculators.

To Each His Own – Payment Method

So you’re done with the hard part of figuring out how to split rent with roommates. Now comes the easy part – actually paying rent. Using Zuby’s free, easy to use app, you and your roommates can all join the same property and seamlessly pay your rent online.

Benefits to renters beyond rent payment include building credit history, ordering local professional services such as cleaners and handymen, affordable renters insurance, and staying organized so that you never have to pay a late fee again.

We’re sure that your landlord or property manager will also love Zuby, as it offers them free rent collection, the ability to screen renters with thorough background checks and credit reports, digital rental lease agreement creation, access to the same network of local service professionals, and more!

So don’t hesitate to download Zuby and invite your landlord to join. It’s easy as inputting their email address and we take care of the rest.