How to Split Rent When You Live With a Couple (2023 Update)

Evelyn Long

Nov 14, 2023

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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 cities like Los Angeles or New York City with exorbitant rents? 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 renting. 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

Rooming with lovebirds doesn’t have to be stressful, but it can change your financial situation. Of course, you’ll begin to wonder what’s reasonable regarding everyone paying their fair share to live there.

Split rental payments right down the middle to keep it simple. In other words, everyone should pay the same amount of rent. 

For instance, if the total apartment costs $1,200 and has 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 later, especially since the couple is likely sharing one room. 

Open communication is the best way to handle these problems before they worsen. 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.

Remember that asking for more money to cover problems — even if fair — may lead to major resentment. You might find it more prudent to find a new lease when your current one is up.

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, paying an equal amount of rent may seem unjust. You may want to consider a method that tackles everyone’s needs through a straightforward system. This way, each roommate can contribute as they should.

Let’s say 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 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 more rent than the other. 

In today’s economy, couples may find themselves in differing financial situations individually. One person might be trying to pay off student loans while the other is making a six-figure income. Splitting expenses evenly isn’t fair under these circumstances, all the while planning for the future.

There are several ways for couples to share expenses, but many decide it’s best to divide rent based on a percentage of their income.

It’s possible but highly 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 and rarely eat at home. If you’ve got a lot of clothes, you could do huge loads of laundry — a household chore you’ll pay more for in energy and water. Either way, not everyone uses the provided space equally. 

In this scenario, this is how to split rent with a couple. 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 determining rent, we consider the idea that it’s everyone’s space. However, if people decide to inhabit more or less of that area, 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. There must be good communication and clarity for peaceful living arrangements. You can avoid uncomfortable discussions about rent splitting if you develop practical expectations from the start of the lease. 

Here are three essential tips for keeping the channels of communication open and working through common roommate problems.

Set the Ground Rules

Make sure everyone understands that the 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 burdening your budget too much.

Learn to Compromise

An unwillingness to compromise and be flexible is the surest way to create tension with your new roommates. Remember, everyone’s situation is different and it may be necessary to give and take. This is worth discussing with the couple in-depth right away.

Try to come up with solutions to problems together. Even if things do not go your way entirely, be willing to let go just enough to prevent conflict. 

However, if the suggested resolution will impact your finances too much, keep working on finding an alternative.

Revisit the Rental Agreement

Over 164,000 people permanently lost their jobs in October 2023, bringing the year’s unemployment numbers to about 1.6 million. The reality is financial situations change all the time. Therefore, the rental agreement with the couple should not be set in stone. 

Revisit and discuss the rent regularly with the couple and whoever else is living with you. As one person struggles with their finances or finding a new job, another person may be able to pick up the slack temporarily. You would hope one would be willing to do so for you.

Ultimately, renting with a couple should be similar to living with other roommates. Work out your expectations early, communicate well, and the three of you can live harmoniously.

Use These Tips to Split Rent With a Couple

Though living with a couple may seem difficult initially, you can use these examples to find a solution everyone agrees on. Compassion and flexibility will go a long way in resolving issues regarding rent and sharing space. While not every tip on how to split rent with a couple will be the perfect solution, one of them is bound to help you and your roommates live in harmony. 

Original Publish Date 4/23/2020 — Updated 11/14/2023

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