The Best Way to Split Rent When Your Rooms Are Different Sizes

Without sacrificing your roomie relationship.

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white bedroom with brown velvet pillows and wreath above bed
Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Solo living is becoming less and less of a reality for 20-somethings. “As rents have outpaced incomes, living alone is no longer an option for many working-age adults,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas explained in a 2017 report. That makes divvying up rent and living costs with a roommate pretty much the standard—not an easy task given no two bedrooms are exactly alike. How do you determine a rent price for a room (especially in high-priced cities) that make sense for everyone involved? We’ve outlined five solutions to help you do the math—hooray for rent split calculators!—and avoid any roomie awkwardness.

Grab the Measuring Tape

One of the easiest ways to divide the rent among multiple people is to base each person’s payments on the square footage of their bedroom, and we have a surefire formula: Calculate the footage of each bedroom (length times width), including closets, bathrooms, or balconies located in or off of the room. Then divide that number by the total footage of all bedrooms—this will give you the percentage of space (and therefore rent) each person is responsible for. 

Rely on a Rent Split Calculator

Sometimes it’s just easier to let a computer do the hard work for you. Luckily, there are dozens of online rent split calculators at the ready. Some of our favorites: Splitwise and Spliddit.

If you find yourself in a position where the bedrooms are almost identical in size, head to The Rent Is Too Damn Fair. This website allows each roommate to “bid” the max rent they are willing to pay for each space in the apartment. Once everyone has submitted their bids, the program computes the most economical arrangement for you and your crew. It will also assign rooms to each person based on their bids, thus eliminating any resentment anyone might have about getting the “worse” space—a major plus.

Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Go by Aesthetics 

If one room has massive windows, cool exposed brick, and a walk-in closet, while the other has…well, none of that, it only makes sense for the lucky resident of the former to pay more. It will be clear from the second you first tour the place, helping you avoid hard feelings later on either side. 

If you want to get more granular, try assigning an extra cost to each amenity and tack it onto a fairly divided room price. (We recommend making these features cost no more than 2 to 5 percent of the total rent.) For example, if the total rent is $2,000, the windows and brick could cost an extra $40 each, while the closet might add a little more at $100.

Use an Income-to-Rent Ratio

As a general rule of thumb, you should never budget to spend more than one-third of your monthly salary on rent. And if you and your roommate(s) have vastly different incomes, that should definitely be a factor when apartment hunting. Have a discussion beforehand: Is the one with the larger paycheck willing to shell out more in return for first pick of the rooms? 

Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Call It Even

If this is more stressful than it is useful (and all parties are okay with it), just split the rent evenly across the board. At the end of the day, it’s an entirely personal decision. Just be sure to draw up a written contract in case things get complicated down the line. 

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.