How To Handle Multiple Baths

In this “Dear Splitwise”, we address the question of how to fairly account for sharing bathrooms with your roommates (and couples).

Dear Splitwise,

I loved the idea of the site when I discovered it! However, as I began to use the calculator though, no matter how I played with some of the options, I found that the split for a 3 bed 3 bath didn’t really seem to make sense to me.

Rent: $2995
4 occupants

Master bedroom – 2 occupants, large room, walk-in closet with private bath
2 single bedrooms, one occupant each
2 non-attached bathrooms

It seems it should be cheaper to have a roommate in the larger room, since their total living space, although shared, would be less than if they had a single. But this is not what the rent calculator gives me. Perhaps I’m not using it correctly? Thanks for your response!


Dear Confused,

This is a great question, and speaks to the larger question of “how do we take bathroom sharing into account fairly?”

Here are the common-sense notions about fairness we are basing our reply on:

  • Ensuite (attached) bathrooms raise the value of the bedroom they are attached to.  They are more convenient, there are no shared cleanliness issues, and they don’t get used as often by guests. Also, there is value in not having to walk around naked.
  • Unattached bathrooms are shared by everyone, and cleaning them (and paying for them) should in general be a shared responsibility. So they should be counted as shared space in the rent calculator and not affect the value of bedrooms.
  • The rent calculator takes all of this into account.
  • There are some exceptions for extreme cases.

Now to your specific question. Your assertion is true – if we use the rent calculator, faithfully describing the ensuite bath without entering the number of public bathrooms, it’s true that the master bedroom comes out more expensive even with all the public baths. Is this one of the exceptions?

Yes. I agree with you – this is a case to use the rent calculator with some individual judgment. In your situation, the ones in the singles are actually the ones with a private bathroom, and the people with the ensuite bathroom are the ones sharing! Also, since there are two public bathrooms, no one should have a particularly large cleaning burden as a result of guests. So in this case, I don’t think anyone has a particularly undesirable bathroom situation and you will get a more fair result if you don’t check the box for a private full bathroom for the master bedroom.

This brings the numbers to what sounds roughly right to me in this situation – $721.43 each for the bedroom-sharers and $776.07 for the singles.

As a general rule, if there are as many bathrooms as bedrooms, and you have two or more public bathrooms, you can use your judgment about checking the ensuite bathroom box. There are other individual considerations – for instance, a big difference in quality between bathrooms. The rent calculator is a great starting point, but it’s just a starting point.

Yours in bathroom-judgment,

Published by

Jon Bittner

Splitwise helps you and your friends keep track of shared expenses, so that bills (and friends) get paid on time.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s