So, you popped the big question: “Will you move in with me?” If you and your significant other are taking this step together, congratulations! Amid the excitement, keep in mind that it’s not all rainbows and new décor — you also need to figure out the logistics of your big move.
If you’re dreading a conversation on how to split rent with a significant other, we can help! Here are a few steps and ideas to make the conversation successful and start your cohabitating chapter on a positive note.
Define your shared expenses.
You likely already know that housing expenses aren’t limited to JUST a rent payment. There’s utility costs, groceries, cleaning and upkeep costs, and more. You and your partner may have different perspectives on what charges should or should not be split between you, so it’s essential to talk through what each of you considers to be a “shared expense.”
For some expenses, like rent and utility costs, it will be fairly obvious whether you and your partner will split those shared expenses. But what about a situation that isn’t so obvious? For example, let’s say your partner has a car and wants to find an apartment complex where they can rent an enclosed garage. You don’t own a car, and you don’t need or want to rent a garage. Will your partner pay for the cost of renting a garage? Will you split it? Will you have use of the garage for storage in either scenario?
A little bit of proactive conversation can go a long way, so take your time and get on the same page with your partner before crunching any numbers. List everything you’ll share, and be sure to talk about what bills you won’t share, too — it’s better to be clear than to assume!
Decide on a method for dividing up those expenses.
Alright, you’ve listed out everything you and your partner consider to be shared expenses. Now, how do you go about splitting bills with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner? Every couple is different, and it’s vital to find an approach that you and your partner can agree on. Do the work now and save yourselves financial fights later! Here are a few ideas to get your conversation started.
1. Split everything evenly.
With this approach, the math is relatively simple: split every single cost on your shared expenses list 50/50. You each contribute the same amount to recurring costs. It’s also a good idea to talk about whose name will be on billing accounts. If one person’s name is on all the bills, your calculations for who-pays-who may be simpler, but one person could get stuck spending more time and effort on paying bills. If you want to share the load, try using a bill splitting app to track who owes what and ensure you’re both contributing the correct amounts each month.
2. Split rent evenly and other costs differently.
Let’s say you work nights, and your partner works days during the week. You typically don’t cook or eat meals together, so does it make sense for you to split grocery bills evenly? Maybe your partner uses far more electricity than you do (i.e., with an electric vehicle). In that case, is it fair to split the power bill in half? Depending on your situation, it can be worth going through your expenses line-by-line to see which ones are worth going halfsies on and which aren’t.
3. Split rent based on the square footage you each use.
Do you or your S.O. need a dedicated office space? Does one of you have kids who will need a room in your new place? If so, one partner may need to use more square footage than the other in your apartment. If only one of you needs that extra bedroom (and the other one doesn’t want to fund it!), it can be tough to know how to split rent fairly.
If this is you, split your rent based on how much space each person needs! Check out this post on fair ways to split apartment rent for more details and examples of how to calculate each person’s financial obligations. Keep in mind: you’ll need to decide if you want to split utilities, groceries, and other costs this way, too, or devise another system for expenses not tied to square footage.
4. Divide expenses based on each partner’s income.
If you and your partner are at different income levels, maybe it doesn’t feel right to split the rent evenly. In this case, you can divide up expenses in proportion to how much money you make. Add up both of your annual incomes to determine what percentage each partner is responsible for. Here’s an easy example: if you make $60,000 and your partner makes $40,000, your total income is $100,000. You earn 60% of the total, and your partner makes 40% of it. Therefore, for all your shared expenses, you will pay 60% each month while your partner pays 40%.
Keep Track of Everything with Budgeting Tools
You’re almost there! You know how you’ll divide up expenses, and now you need to get the money to the right places. If you don’t keep a record of who paid what and when each bill is due, you could find yourselves in a messy situation. Here are a few ideas on keeping track of your shared expenses — and keeping communication lines open with your partner.
- Open a shared bank account: However you choose to split the rent, it may help to open a shared bank account for your shared expenses. Each of you can contribute your agreed-upon monthly amount to the account. Then, you can pay shared bills directly from this account. This way, both of you can see precisely where your shared money is going, but still have independent finances for all other purposes.
- Use a bill splitting app or budgeting app: When it comes to splitting bills with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner, technology can be your best friend. Apps like SplitWise make it a breeze to enter expenses as they happen. For shared bank accounts, budgeting tools like Mint, EveryDollar, or YNAB (short for “You Need a Budget”) can help you track exactly how much you’re spending each month, which categories are costing you the most, and help you keep track of your expense history. Do some research and test out different platforms with your partner to find the best home budget app that works for both of you.
Moving in Together: Finding the Perfect Place
Now that you’ve done the work and know how to split rent with your significant other, it’s time for the fun part: searching for the perfect apartment! ApartmentSearch can help you find a place where you’ll both feel at home. Use ApartmentSearch to find apartments in your ideal neighborhood today, and get ready for an exciting new chapter with your partner!