Living with roommates is a great way to save money on housing. When you share a house or apartment with others you can split rent, utilities and other shared house related costs. Learn how to split costs with roommates and use our downloadable roommate budget spreadsheet to track monthly expenses.
What Should You Split With a Roommate
At minimum, you should split rent, utilities and internet. Depending on your circumstances you may decide to split them evenly or to use a percentage.
Some housemates choose to split other household expenses as well. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, dish soap and more could go on a shared bill.
Groceries can also be shared, to some extent. However, this is usually more complicated.
Download a Roommate Budget Spreadsheet
When sharing expenses it’s best to keep track of everything in one place that every roommate can easily access.
We’ve built a customizable roommate budgeting calculator to help get you started.
You can use the spreadsheet to record your monthly expenses and adjust the split percentages as needed for your circumstances. You can also add or subtract roommates as needed.
Save your own copy of this sheet by clicking File > Make a Copy.
How to Split Rent
If all of the bedrooms in your apartment or house are relatively similar in size and have the same amenities, splitting rent evenly is the easiest way to go. In this case, simply divide the rent by the number of roommates.
However, if the rooms are a different size and have different features like a walk-in closet or en suite bathroom, using the square footage method can be more fair.
Here is how to calculate rent by square footage:
- Learn how to calculate square footage
- Add up the square footage of any private spaces in the apartment, including bedroom, bathroom, balcony, closets, etc. (Do not include common spaces like the living room, kitchen, or shared bathrooms.)
- Divide each person’s individual space by total square footage of private spaces in the apartment. This will give you each roommates’ percentage of rent.
- Multiply the total rent by each roommates’ percentage. This will give you a rent amount that is equivalent to the space each person occupies.
How to Split Utilities
If utilities are not included in your rent it’s usually best to split those evenly. Regardless of the amount of space a roommate occupies in the apartment, it’s usually not possible to calculate how much electricity, water or gas each roommate uses.
In extraordinary circumstances, such as a roommate that occupies a significantly larger space in the apartment or works from home and has a high daily electricity consumption, you may decide to split this using a percentage that you feel is fair.
You should almost always split utilities that are not based on consumption evenly, like cable and internet.
How to Split Household Supplies
It is common to evenly split household supplies like paper towels, dish soap and cleaning products. The cost of toilet paper can also be split evenly unless each roommate has their own bathroom. It’s not common to split the cost of laundry soap. If you do share it, then we recommend splitting evenly.
When buying shared household supplies, try to keep these on a separate tab. This will save you the trouble of going through a receipt and manually adding up the cleaning supplies and calculating tax so that you can split the total on your roommate budget.
How to Split Groceries
The decision to split groceries is one that will be unique to each roommate grouping. If the roommates keep similar schedules, have similar diets and often cook and eat together, sharing groceries makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand, roommates who do not eat the same foods or cook together may find it easier to keep groceries totally separate.
Roommates often adopt a hybrid model and share some but not all groceries. You can share pantry staples like eggs, butter, milk, coffee, creamer, condiments, spices, rice etc. Keep meal specific purchases or treats separate on the roommate budget.
Not sure what your food budget should be? Check out this blog.
Consider Creating a Roommate Agreement
According to a Pew Research study, 79 million adults or 31.9% of the adult population live in a shared household with another adult who is not a head of household or partner.
With so many opting for shared housing situations it makes sense to set some ground rules with a roommate agreement. A roommate agreement is a contract written and signed by you and your roommate(s) before you move in together.
The agreement should cover house rules like your roommate budget, household chores, quiet hours, a cleaning schedule, and a guest policy. A roommate contract is not legally binding unless it is notarized, however, you can and should take it as a serious opportunity to be on the same page with your housemates especially when it comes to shared financial obligations.