Living with roommates can be a great experience. Often times, you’re living with friends or people that are close to your age, which can feel like a constant social gathering. But on the other hand, it can be difficult. If you’re moving into a shared space, or if you’re already settled in with roommates, here are some simple tips to ensure a smooth ride ahead.
Share the Wealth
Assign each roommate to be in charge of different bills – rent, utilities, internet, cable, maintenance and more. Detail the roles into a Google Doc so each roommate will know who to turn their checks into, and will know which person is in charge of paying the landlord, electric company, etc. Make it fun by having a “collections” mailbox in the house where people can dump their checks or cash for bills and expenses.
Buy Furniture Separately
While it may sound like a good idea to split the cost of the furniture everyone will be using, it will not create an easy move-out process. Avoid conflict by making sure everyone buys furniture separately. There’s a high chance that nothing will be extremely valuable, which cuts down on damage worries. For example, a couch you buy at Ikea may cost you a couple hundred bucks, but five years later when you move out, you’ll care more about the flat screen TV than the couch.
There’s an App for That!
To help everyone keep track of finances, download an expense-sharing app like Splitwise or Venmo. These apps allow you to “friend” your roommates and request or pay funds, see balance sheets and view account history. There will never be a question of whether or not a roommate paid their rent because there’s a digital trail on the apps!
Buy your own groceries. Everyone has different eating habits, so everyone should cater to their own needs. One roommate that is a dollar-saving shopper should not have to pay for another roommate’s organic, gluten-free meals and snacks. Keep things separate to avoid a food fight.
Communication is Key
Create a “Roommate Agreement” when you first move in together. This document can cover topics like guests, pets, payment schedules and more. This agreement can reduce possible arguments later on since each roommate has already agreed to a specific set of rules. Living with roommates isn’t always easy, but these tips and tricks are designed to help you establish a good financial system to avoid conflict in the future.