Getting a roommate is a common way to have a nicer apartment or townhouse than you could afford on your own. But it does require formalizing some financial arrangements and having some potentially awkward conversations. Splitting the rent is one of those. Sure, you could just divide it equally, but that isn’t always the fairest approach.
Some units have different size bedrooms, which means one person gets more personal space. One way to divide up the rent in cases like this is to use the square footage of each roommate’s personal space to establish their percentage of the total.
However, one roommate might enjoy special features in their space, like a walk-in closet, massive windows, or a balcony. Since those don’t always equate to square footage, agreeing on a flat monthly “premium” for those amenities can be a way to make things fairer.
While splitting the rent based on space is the most common practice, some roommates decide to split the rent based on their incomes. The idea is that the person who makes the most money pays a larger share of the rent. This often gets used by good friends who want to share a space but have significantly different incomes.
Another way to address the issue of having a roommate that can’t afford an equal share is to lower that person’s rent in exchange for additional responsibilities. Taking on vacuuming the apartment and cleaning the bathrooms weekly is a good example.
If you’d rather leave things up to the robots, there are a variety of online rent calculators available. Splitwise and RentSplit are good examples. These ask you to input information like square footage, closet space, bathrooms, and other amenities. Then they calculate your share of the rent for you.