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How to Talk to Your Roommate About Money

Jan 4, 2022

When it’s time for you to move out on your own, sometimes it’s easier (and less lonely) to share a space with a roommate instead of living alone. There are important talks you should have with a potential roommate to make sure you are both on the same page. How will the household chores be split up? Are pets allowed? Are parties at 3 a.m. okay? 

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, thing to discuss is money. We’re not just talking about who pays what bills, although that is super important. Here are some money conversations you should have before moving in together. 

First Things First

Before taking that big step towards living together, have an honest conversation with your roomie about their finances. How much can both of you comfortably afford to spend on rent? Do you feel confident that they can pay their share consistently each month?  

If you find out that your roommate makes way more money than you do, it might be tempting to ask for them to pay more in rent. To save you both future headaches, it is best to split everything down the middle, unless there is a particular perk that perhaps the person who makes more money could take advantage of if they paid more. For example, if the apartment you are eyeing has unevenly sized bedrooms, then it might work out if the person with a higher salary takes that bedroom if they agree to pay more. 

It’s Not Just About Rent 

Figuring out how to split rent is just the tip of the iceberg. Who’s going to pay the water, electric/gas and Internet bills? This is when things can get a little tricky. Splitting everything down the middle is, again, the best way to go, but what happens if your roommate loves to shower 3 times a day? Or perhaps you can’t stand being cold during the winter so you turn the thermostat up really high? 

Splitting the bills looks great on paper, but there are going to be situations in which one person might be responsible for increasing the monthly bills. It’s best to have a game plan before these situations come up, but if it’s too late for that, sitting down and having an honest, non-judgmental conversation is key. 

Wait… Have You Been Using My Shampoo?

Yes, you even have to discuss how you’re going to approach common household items and food. Together, make a list of household items (such as dish soap and toilet paper) and food items (such as butter and bread) that you both agree should be split evenly.  

Having all of these conversations early on is ideal, but even if you’re 5 months into a lease you can still talk to your roommate. Making sure that both of you are on the same page will cause less arguments and will make for a better co-existing experience.