Splitting Costs with Your College Roommates: Sharing is Caring

When moving into an apartment, costs can pile up quickly, whether it’s the $500 television or the “all-purpose” table that’ll be used for eating and other college-related activities. There’s no sense in paying for all of it yourself, considering your roommates will probably be watching TV and using the table too. So why not split the costs?

Splitting costs can help maintain peace with your roommates as well as foster a sense of unity through ownership. Let’s say you’re trying to carry the $500 television up to your third story apartment. Ideally, your roommate would help you anyway, but saying, “Hey, come help me carry up our television?” can sound a lot better than, “Hey, come help me carry up my television?” That way nobody feels they are being taken for granted in the context of purchasing furniture or fixing something around the apartment. With divided costs, a sense of communal ownership is formed, and everybody puts more effort into taking care of the apartment and bettering their living space. Let’s face it: shared space equals shared responsibility.

A frequent argument against divvying up costs can be, “What happens when we stop living together?” The solution is simple: by splitting costs, you’ve already divided ownership into shares. If someone decides that the lamp would look great at their new apartment post-graduation, they can pay their roommates back for however much money they initially invested, essentially making it the equivalent of them having bought it alone in the first place.

Sharing the financial burden is, though a basic concept, something that isn’t observed enough. When your heavily intoxicated roommate kicks through that $500 television at 2 A.M., it’s much easier for them to be enthusiastic about fixing or replacing it when they have a stake in it. Sharing costs means more people care, so setting those expectations with your roommates from the outset is critical to a successful college apartment living experience.

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