Simple tips to split bills with roommates in a foreign country
Life as an expat can be challenging enough. Especially finding a suitable, pocket friendly accommodation can be a herculean task. And it gets harder when you have room mates who are non-cooperative and who do not pay their dues on time. Returning back tired from work, only to have unpaid bills stare at you, even though you have paid your share, can be really stressful. With the rising real estate and rental costs, it’s not easy for you to just move out and find a new place.
So you’ll have to come up with methodologies or techniques to split the bills effectively among your roommates. Here are our tips!
Have the talk
Schedule time with your roommates and talk to them about the house bills. Explain to them the need for all of you to share and pay the bills on time. Ask their suggestion for setting up ground rules for the house. Segregating between bills you’ll have to share or pay individually is very important. Sort out mechanisms for splitting and paying the bills each month. Discuss everything right from personal space to financial aspects such as rent, utility, grocery and potential maintenance fee.
Put them in writing
Create a spread sheet, jotting down all the points of discussion. Make sure that you enter details such as due dates, amount owed, and the person responsible for paying the same. Write down who will give the final cheque and when others will pay their shares. Circulate a copy to all your roommates, so that they are not taken by surprise when the bills arrive. This will also keep your roommate from denying later on to what he/she agreed about earlier.
Use mobile apps
Today everything is possible with mobile apps. If you find it difficult to remember, monitor and communicate expenses, you can always make use of free mobile apps such as Acasa, Unbill, Venmo, Splitwise etc. They are easy to maintain and helps you have all money details at the tip of your finger anytime.
Choose the right roommate
This is a crucial step while choosing your accommodation option. Pick the right roommate whose is gainfully employed, doesn’t matter whether he/she is a close friend or a perfect stranger. During initial conversations look for subtle slippery signs such as tales of lottery wins, refusal to take work from a person who he thinks is "beneath" him, or how he is financially dependent on his parents even after he reached adulthood. Avoid staying with such people.
Stick to your guns and don’t accept excuses every time your room mates delay or refrain from contributing their share. However you can be flexible if your roommate had an excellent track record in making earlier payments. Never fall into the guilt trap of making your friend’s financial problem yours.
Have an open communication line with your roommate to ensure that every expense is paid on time. When unexpected expenses arise, such as an extended stay of a common friend or a big renovation requirement, make it a point to talk it over and decide how the bills will be split amongst yourselves.
So follow the above mentioned tips and you’ll find staying with your roomies to be a financially hassle free experience.