The hardest part of living with roommates? Other than the standard dirty bathroom sink, it's the semi-awkward monthly bills money collection. Throw out the whiteboard, stop leaving overlooked Post-its, and give bill-splitting a 21st-century upgrade. Remind roomies you need to be reimbursed for toilet paper and evenly split your weekly bonding dinner with the best apps for splitting bills and living in roommate harmony.
We're thrilled to present this smart Bundle story here on Savvy!
Getting a roommate is a great way to share costs and lower rent. But living with someone is not always easy, as these roommate horror stories illustrate.
One way you can limit problems is by creating a roommate agreement. This is a formal document that spells out living arrangements and responsibilities. It may sound odd to create a legal contract, but it is often a sensible idea. Here are three reasons why.
1. A lease is not good enough
A lease is an important document, but it's limited in its focus. A lease typically specifies legal obligations between a landlord and the tenants as a whole, focusing on rent collection and length of term. A roommate agreement, by contrast, is a document between tenants. It can cover issues a lease cannot, like how to split up utilities, how to pay for groceries, and whether someone can keep an overnight guest.
2. You can avoid miscommunication
By making a roommate agreement, you have a chance to make sure everyone is on the same page. It is a good time to bring up any personal preferences.
Here are a few important issues that should be discussed.
- How to split rent, utilities, groceries
- Level of cleanliness and required chores
- Policy for overnight guests
- Whether to allow smoking, firearms, etc.
- What happens if someone moves out
While it's impossible to specify every issue, discussing house rules early helps avoid surprises. And if a serious issue ever happens, you will at least have something written to help make your case.
I'd like to consider myself a smart woman who knows right from wrong, so I don't know if it's normal for myself to be worrying about this AS much as I am, or is it just my emotional state?
My boyfriend broke up with me a week ago. I was pretty sad about it and still am, but have been doing relatively well. I do feel a little "on the rebound" though. I haven't been searching for anyone yet because it's only been a week!! But I just feel it. I feel so hurt and confused by the break up that I think it would be nice just to have a guy distraction.
So here is the real issue. While my boyfriend and I were still together, I was in desperate need of a new roommate. I found this guy that was a perfect candidate! I don't know him but after chatting on Skype (for 2 hours), I realized how hot and cool he is. We have a lot in common and I think we could really be best friends. But all of my friends that have seen pictures of him are making remarks and jokes about how hot he is . . . how he and I are going to get drunk one night and hook up . . . fall in love . . . get jealous. Stuff like that. When I was still with my boyfriend I wasn't worried at all about the fact that he's extremely good looking because I knew that I loved my boyfriend and I would never do that to ANY boyfriend. I also felt more protected, like, the roommate would steer clear of me because I had a boyfriend. He is moving in in a week and I no longer have a boyfriend. He asked me about him the other day and I had to tell him about the breakup! Now I'm wondering if he has the same worries?
Am I over thinking this? Does anyone have any ideas on how this can be avoided?
If you've ever had roommates, chances are you've dealt with some sticky situations. I've had all sorts of roomie experiences over the last eight years, from great to not so great, but I'm currently on the cusp of moving into a place all my own for the very first time. While I've always been a believer in the benefits of roommates — splitting costs, safety, etc. — I must admit the drama-free perks of living solo are appealing. In the midst of my own unsavory living sitch, I reached out to you on Facebook for advice on dealing with difficult roommate environments. Some of you offered helpful tips like being flexible, sharing cleaning duties, and creating boundaries, but a majority of you have found through trial and error that living alone is the way to go.
Here's a case against roommates with your real-world horror stories to illustrate:
- "After years of terrible roommates and lost friendships I choose to live alone. My apartment is older and TINY, but it's just me and I LOVE IT!" — Cameron
- "Just do not do it. I lost my best friend because of it, she turned into something that I couldn't believe . . . so it didn't work out. You just have to be very communicative and ALWAYS talk about bills and be on the same page. Never make a decision alone when it involves the apartment, drama will happen for sure." — Jessica
- "I did it once and will probably never do it again. I lived with a friend and her bf and it was the worst mistake ever. He and I hate each other and it makes it hard on her especially now that they have a baby together!!" — Lauryn
We're thrilled to present this smart Kiplinger story here on Savvy!
Whether you're moving out of the dorms for the first time or you've been living sans-resident-adviser for a while now, you might consider getting one or more roommates to help cut costs. But sharing a living space can be a minefield of monetary problems.
Sidestep any big blowups by discussing how you’ll address potential problems with your roommate(s) before you even sign a lease. And consider formalizing your chat by creating an official roommate agreement — signed and notarized, just in case a little spat escalates to a legal battle. Here are eight common causes of cohabitation conflict that you might address in your contract:
1. Size Matters
Specify how much each person will pay for rent and which room (or side of the room) each person will get. Especially if one room is bigger or comes with better perks (such as a nice view or its own bathroom), everyone needs to agree on the living situation. You may all decide that the person taking the biggest room ought to pay the biggest slice of rent.
Or you can work out another arrangement. For example, my old roommate and I shared a two-bedroom apartment, where I got the master bedroom (complete with a view of tennis courts, where unwitting casual players were subjected to my dramatic, stroke-by-stroke commentary) and she took the other, much-smaller room. We didn’t want to quibble over how much each room was worth, so we agreed to split the rent evenly. To make it fair, I let her use the majority of the common area as her personal office space. And we lived together happily ever after -- for a year (she was even a bridesmaid in my wedding).
I've lived in a number of roommate situations, and each one had its own share of rent-splitting rules. Whether it's paying more for the only room with a walk-in closet or getting a discount because the room was the size of one, there are many factors when deciding who pays what share of the rent, but most of the time, we would just agree on a figure and call it a day.
After finding that most roommates split rent in the same friendly-yet-decidedly-unscientific way, a bright mind at Harvard decided to do all the math for us. Astrophysics graduate student Jonathan Bittner has created a simple calculator to figure out how much each roomie should pay. His site, SplitTheRent.org, asks you simple questions about each bedroom, like the general square footage, the size of its closet, and if it has any windows or doors. From there, your answers are plugged into a formula, and the total rent is divided fairly, down to the cent. So easy! And once you know exactly how much everyone owes, you can use other (GeekSugar reader-recommended) sites like BillMonk and WeSplit.It to keep track of who's paying.
Here's another trend to add onto our list of baffling effects of the recession: more single women over fifty are moving in with roomies they find through their version of Craigslist, according to SmartMoney. They are turning to agents who work for home-sharing companies that specialize in matching these golden girls up. One reason for this shift is financial necessity, and another is pure loneliness. Moving in together with someone gives these women a sense of comfort and a chance to socialize, says Ken Dychtwald, an expert who studies aging. Dychtwald predicts that numbers of older women living together "will unquestionably multiply in years to come."
This burgeoning trend sounds like it can be a good idea if the pair-up is right. After all, you certainly don't want to deal with nightmare roommates when you're facing retirement issues!
Most of us have had our fair share of nightmare roommate stories (although hopefully not a real horror story, like upcoming flick The Roommate). But whether you can relate to the unfortunate housemate situation, or you've never shacked up with a crazy, I've outlined 10 types of roommates to avoid at all cost, courtesy of some overly dramatic silver screen examples.
Living with roommates can be a fun time or an annoying time, but either way, when the end of the month comes around it's time for business. Every household seems to have a different way of splitting bills and rent, and that includes ways that are high tech. I once had some friends who had their own house wiki so they could check out and edit house news from anywhere. They would post goings-on around the house, like if the repair man was coming or when someone would be out of town, as well as when bills were due. To me it seemed like a little too much, but I always thought it was a good idea. My days of doing the shared-house thing were more old-school; we would either post receipts, notes, or bills on the fridge, or the leaseholder would be in charge of sending out a spreadsheet with everyone's bill portion listed under their own column. If you have roommates, how do you divide the bills each month?
I recently overheard a debate between my friend and her boyfriend who just moved in with her about his suggestion to put up his life-sized Michael Jordan poster in their newly decorated bedroom. Something along the lines of "absolutely not" was her response. I was reminded of that infamous scene in When Harry Met Sally with the wagon-wheel coffee table, and it got me thinking of housemate non-negotiables. Decorating with a boyfriend is no easy task, when guitars, movie posters, and action figure or comic book collections come with the new roommate. But even if you are the same sex, differing styles between housemates can cause conflict as well.
Where do you draw the line? What are your home decorating non-negotiables?