Living with roommates comes with a lot of perks: you get to pay only a portion of the rent and utilities, you have an extra set of hands when it comes to household chores and cleaning, and you always have someone to hang out with. However, there are some downsides as well, including having to share space as well as some household items that you would have used by yourself if you live on your own. However, sharing is not all bad news especially if you get to save money, energy, and space in the process, as long as you figure out a way to share that is beneficial to everyone.
What should you share with roommates? In addition to having to share space when you live with roommates, you also have to share the payment of bills as well as some household items such as kitchen appliances, electronic gadgets, utensils, rugs and carpets, and some basic decorations among other things.
By splitting the bills amongst yourselves, you will be saving money you would have spent if you lived on your own. It may be necessary to share some household items rather than each roommate buying everything on their own to save on space especially if the unit you live in is small. Roommates should also share the chores that need to be done around the house so as to keep their living space clean and help each other out at the same time.
When you live with roommates, you have to come to terms with not only sharing your space but also household items and bills among other things. This adjustment isn’t a walk in the park, and arguments are inevitably going to arise as a result, so it is important to have a clear idea of what exactly you are going to share with roommates and how to go about it without stepping on each other’s toes.
1. Household items
There are various household items you may share with roommates, whether you intend to save money or your living space is simply too small to have more than one of the same thing. Here are some household items you may share with roommates:
It is important to decide amongst yourselves who will buy what items in the kitchen.
- Cups, bowls, mugs, and plates – Make sure that you buy a set of these items that include an assortment of sizes and also ensure that they are enough for everyone.
- Pots and pans – If you and your roommates plan on cooking, pots and pans are a necessity.
- Coffee machine – One or more of your roommates probably drinks coffee, so a coffee machine is an essential appliance that you can expect to share with more than one person.
- Silverware and utensils – Spoons, forks, knives, serving spoons, spatulas, and other utensils are commonly shared items when you have roommates.
- Microwave – If you constantly need to heat up your food, a microwave will come in handy, and what’s the point of having several when you can just share one with your roommates?
- Refrigerator – Sharing the refrigerator with your roommates is usually a no brainer.
- Trash can – Since you will be sharing a trash can, make sure you come up with a schedule for throwing out the trash as well.
Since the living room is a shared space, you can expect to share the various pieces of furniture. However, this does not mean you should share the cost of buying them you’re your roommates even if it seems like the easier option. Before you go furniture shopping, make sure you agree on who will buy what. This way, when one or more of you decide to move out, you won’t have a hard time deciding who gets what. The furniture you will share includes:
- Sofas and chairs
- Coffee tables and end tables
Whether you prefer a stylish shag or a barber remnant, you will want to consult with your roommates before you buy a rug, carpet, or any other floor covering. This way, you can agree on a color and style, as well as decide whether you are going to share the cost.
Toiletries you may share with roommates include toilet paper and hand soap. Remember to come up with an agreed upon schedule on how and when the shared toiletries will be replaced, as well as a reasonable budget for these items where everyone chips in.
Since you and your roommates will need to keep your shared unit clean, you will need a variety of cleaning supplies.
- Broom and dustpan
- Paper towels
- Multi-purpose cleaner
- Trash bags
- Disinfectant wipes
- Window cleaner
TV and electronics
Expect to share TV, as well as other electronics such as the stereo, the VCR, and the DVD player.
When you live with roommates, one of the things you can expect to share is the rent and utility bills. In fact, how you split the bills is the first thing you should discuss prior to moving in together.
There are various strategies you can use to share the rent bill amongst each other:
- Based on square footage – Sharing the rent bill among roommates based on the square footage of the various rooms is more common than you would think. This involves calculating the footage of each bedroom, including bathrooms, closets, and balconies. The resulting square footage of each room is then divided by the total footage of all the bedrooms to obtain the amount of rent each occupant should pay. Although this method is quite simple, consider using it only when there are distinct differences in the rooms.
- Based on income – More often than not, you and your roommates will have varying salaries. A general rule of thumb when it comes to paying rent is that you should spend no more than one-third of your monthly income. If your salaries vastly vary, consider sharing the rent expenses based on income, and what you are each able to afford.
- An online rent calculator – There are many online rent calculators available that you can use to divide the rent precisely when you have roommates. They include RoomieCalc, Spliddit, and Splitwise.
- Based on the features of the room – There are bedrooms you will find in an apartment that simply have more desirable features than others. For example, one bedroom in the unit may have a private bathroom as well as a walk-in closet. Based on the desirability factor, the occupant of the bedroom should pay a slightly larger portion of rent. Other features to take into consideration include the amount of natural light, the view, and the overall condition of the bedroom when you move in. Consider making the desirable features cost anywhere from 2-5% of the total rent.
- Split it evenly – If the size of the bedrooms is more or less the same or you simply don’t want to focus on the differences too much, then splitting the rent evenly is the way to go.
Does one of your roommates cause your electric bill to spike since they are constantly running the air conditioner? What if one of you prefers cable, while the rest of you are okay with relying on Netflix? Some roommates may have to pay more for extra services or increased consumption, or you could simply come to an agreement in advance regarding the usage of utilities. Ideally, the utility bills should be shared evenly, especially when you have a comprehensive set of rules regarding consumption.
3. Household chores
Household chores are a necessary part of apartment living. When you live with roommates, it is only fair that you share chores since you share a space and it is in everyone’s interest for it to stay clean. Here are some tips on how you can share the various chores:
- Discuss the chores – Discuss with your roommates the chores that need to be taken care of, and how often they should be taken care of. Create a comprehensive list that covers all the areas that need attention.
- Divide them up – You probably have tasks around your shared unit that you are not particularly fond of, which means that your roommates may also have chores that they would rather avoid as well. Come up with a list of the tasks that you don’t mind and those that you hate. If your roommate enjoys vacuuming but you hate it, then let them take care of that. If more than one roommate is willing to wash the dirty dishes, the best solution is to take turns doing it. Scrubbing the toilet is a chore is typically an unpopular chore, so take turns doing this as well as any other chores that no one is ready to do.
- Make a chart – Create a chart that details the names of all the roommates and the chores that they will be responsible for. This is a great way to eliminate confusion over who is in charge of what. To make this system even better, consider rotating the various chores on a monthly basis. Additionally, set deadlines to ensure all the roommates complete the chores they are responsible for in time.
Sharing things with your roommates is a great strategy when it comes to saving money on bills and household chores, and lessening the workload when it comes to chores. However, you should have some sort of agreement when it comes to sharing so as to avoid disagreements amongst yourselves so that everyone has a clear understanding of what to do or what not to do.