How to Split Rent When You Live With a Couple

Evelyn Long

Apr 23, 2020

how to split rent when you live with a couple

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Today, it’s not uncommon for renters to live with multiple roommates. After all, how else could anyone afford to live in a city like Los Angeles, where renting costs about $2,200 a month? Sometimes, however, one of those people wants to bring in their significant other. When there’s a couple around, a lot can change – especially when it comes to renting.

Rooming with lovebirds doesn’t have to be stressful, but it can change your financial situation. Here’s a list of ideas to help you determine how to split rent with a couple.

  1. Divide Payments Down the Middle
  2. Create a Per Room Average
  3. Shoud Individual Income Play a Role?
  4. Pay Attention to Home Usage

1. Divide Payments Down the Middle

To keep it simple and equal, split rental payments right down the middle. In other words, everyone should pay the same amount of rent. Splitting rent evenly is generally the best way to split rent with a couple.

For instance, if the total apartment costs $1,200 and there are three tenants, each would pay $400. This is typically the standard arrangement because it’s easy, equal and doesn’t leave much room for drama.

Of course, some people may not feel this arrangement is fair a few months down the line. Open communication is the best way to handle these problems before they get worse. Be sure to check-in with your roommates and reevaluate your setup if needed. Sometimes, a little social awareness is all it takes for someone to change their behavior, especially if a romantic partner is in the picture.

Just remember that asking for more money to cover problems — even if it’s fair — may lead to major resentment. You might find it more prudent to find a new lease when the time comes.

2. Create a Per Room Average

Often, it makes sense for couples to share the largest room within an apartment. If you’re stuck with a smaller space, though, it may seem unfair to pay an equal amount of rent. You may want to consider a method that tackles everyone’s needs through a simple system. This way, each roommate can contribute as they should.

Let’s say that you and your four roommates live in a three-bedroom house that costs $2,000 a month. You’ll each take a piece of paper and write down every room’s value. For instance, maybe you’d like to pay $800 for the biggest bedroom and $600 for the smaller two. However, your other roommate thinks that they’re worth $1,000 and $500 instead. Likewise, the couple may have different estimates.

Once everyone has gathered their numbers, find the average of every room. Then, use that figure to calculate each person’s rent. If the couple chose the most spacious room, they’d agree to pay $900 a month. They may want to contribute $450 each. That system covers everyone’s perception of what’s fair and what’s not. 

3. Should Individual Income Play a Role?

You may encounter a couple that doesn’t split their payments. Instead, one of them may take care of the total rent. In other scenarios, one partner will cover a higher portion of rent than the other. There are many different ways for couples to share expenses, but many decide that it’s best to divide rent based on a percentage of their income.

It’s possible but extremely uncommon to apply this method to every roommate. This is because most roommate relationships, even if you’re friends, are much more transactional than a romantic partnership.

Since you’re not building your life with the other person, you should likely expect your rent to be an equal share — even if the couple you live with divides expenses between themselves.

4. Pay Attention to Home Usage

It’s not uncommon for specific roommates to use more space than others – and the opposite can be true. For example, you may spend a lot of time at work, so you rarely eat at home. If you’ve got a lot of clothes, you could do huge amounts of laundry, something that costs nearly $1.00 per load in energy and water. Either way, not everyone uses the provided space equally. 

You can calculate rent based on square footage to find common ground. If the couple tends to use up cabinet space or hog the living room, you can ask them to pay more. When we determine rent, we consider the idea that it’s everyone’s space. If people decide to inhabit more or less of that area, though, it’s reasonable to adjust costs accordingly.

Tips for Single Roommates Living With a Couple

Splitting rent is one thing, but conflict might arise if the couple and their other roommates don’t set specific ground rules. Living arrangements rely on good communication and clarity. You can avoid uncomfortable discussions about rent splitting if you set good expectations from the start of the lease.

For one, make sure it’s understood that common space in the apartment is for everybody. Decorations and furniture should be agreeable for everyone, not just the couple living together.

Then, work out agreements for any shared expenses. Will your groceries be completely separate from theirs, or will you go in together on things like milk and eggs? Bill splitting apps can automate these decisions so you don’t feel like the couple is putting too much of a burden on your budget.

Ultimately, renting with a couple shouldn’t be too different from living with any other roommates. Work out your expectations early, communicate well, and the three of you can live in harmony.

Use These Tips to Split Rent With a Couple

Though living with a couple may seem difficult at first, you can use these examples to work out a solution everyone agrees on. While not every tip will be the perfect solution, one of them is bound to help you and your roommates live in harmony.

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