Flatmates, 8 February
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If you’re on a low budget and looking for cheap apartments in Budapest, then consider moving in with a flatmate to split the costs
If you’re moving to Hungary for work or study and you’re looking to rent cheap apartments in Budapest, then it may be worthwhile to consider moving in with a roommate or a flatmate.
The Hungarian capital is one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Europe, so renovated, furnished, centrally located cheap apartments to rent are not so easy to find, due to the increasing demand by students and expats on a budget. This lead to many opting to share a flat together, which doesn’t only help in reducing the rental costs and finding a nice flat to rent in the centre, but also helps create new friendships with people from all around the world that are living in Hungary.
One of the most important things to consider, when renting an apartment together with other people, is to not let all the confusing details of sharing the costs of the apartment ruin your enthusiasm and relationships. This guide below will help you figure out how to share the rent and utilities costs of the apartment easily.
Everyone values money differently, some people like to spend more, and others tend to save it, and there are those people who like to do a little bit of both. Before you sign a lease together for an apartment, you have to make sure that you and your new flatmates or roommates are on common grounds regarding finances, so none of you will be left disappointed or broke.
Before you sign the lease agreement for the apartment, you should define how you will split the rent and the other expenses. You might say that is the easiest part. We can just split the rent and the bills in half and it is perfectly fair, but if the bedrooms are different sizes, or one of the flatmates uses more amenities than the others, etc. then you might have an issue, as these little differences could create future problems when the rent payment is due. So, in this case, what can you do? Here are some tips that can help you calculate how much each roommate should pay:
- Splitting the cost by the size: If the bedrooms you are using are different in sizes, you may want to consider calculating what each flatmates should pay by the size of the rooms on a square meter basis. To do so, first, you need to figure out the cost per square meter of the apartment. You can do this by dividing the cost of the rent by the total square meter of the apartment. To give an example, if your rent is HUF 100.000 per month for a 100 square meter apartment, the cost for 1 sqm is HUF 1.000. Next step you need to determine how big the bedrooms are in square meter, and multiply the number by the cost of a square meter. If one bedroom is 30 sqm and the other is 34 sqm, then the rental rate for the bedrooms would be HUF 30.000 and HUF 34.000 respectively. For the shared areas, such as the kitchen, living room and shared bathrooms you can split the cost, and this is how it will be fair according the sizes of the bedrooms.
- Checking the amenities: In addition to the square meters, you should also consider the amenities. For example, if one flatmate gets the master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a closet, and the other flatmates are using a shared bathroom, then the flatmate staying in the master bedroom should pay more than the others. The same can be said in case there’s a balcony in the apartment that has access from only one of the bedrooms. To maintain the good relationship, and to avoid future frustration, it is worth going through these extras in the apartment to see how you can work them in the cost of the flat. As for the utility bills – common cost, electricity, gas, heating, cable, water, Internet, etc. – you need to decide how you will want to pay for. You may decide to split the amount on the bills every month, or divide the payment by the average amount of the bill. Dividing every single bill every month can be a long procedure, but sometimes it is worth more, than just paying the averages. Anyhow, you need to find a method to keep track of who paid for what, who owes to whom. You can use a traditional spreadsheet placing it in a place everyone can see, for example on the fridge, or you can download bill-splitting applications, such as Splitwise or Cospender, which will help you figuring out the payments and help remind you who paid for what. These applications are not self sufficient, it will still take time to put in all the data, but it will make your life a lot easier. In addition you may want to discuss a due date until everyone gives their share of the payment, and everyone pays back everyone, to avoid future conflicts.
- Considering other shared expenses: When talking about how to split the rent, it is worth to talk about the extra utilities as well. If only one flatmate wants to have cable TV, but the others don’t feel it would be necessary, or if they would not use it at all, then it would not be fair if everyone had to pay for the expensive subscription. Also, nowadays Internet and Wi-Fi are a must, but there are different packages with very different prices. If one does not need a super fast and huge Internet, because they only need it to read emails, but the others want to stream and upload videos, the one needing the minimal Internet speed should not pay for the extra charge. Talk with your flatmates to decide together what are the extras they definitely need in the apartment, and then reach a conclusion regarding how you will pay for these bills, so no one feels like they are paying for something they are not using at all.
When sharing an apartment with flatmates, it is very important to decide who will handle the payments. It can be just one person handling them all, or you can decide who will be responsible for the bills, and who will handle the rent itself. Selecting one or two people for this task is a very good decision, because otherwise you can end up in a situation where everyone is waiting for the other to take care of the bills and rent, and as a result you will be late with the payments, and end up paying lots of money for late payment fees. Being organized in the matter of bills is crucial, so you don’t waste money on different extra fees.
When signing a rental lease for the apartment, you need to determine your payment method. You landlord will most likely tell you how you need to pay the rent; it can be in cash or with money transfer. You need to discuss, whether one of you will handle it for all of you, or everyone will do it on their own. But if you signed the lease together it is very important that all of you pay for the rent promptly, because otherwise you can jeopardize your living situation if someone does not pay for their rent, and the landlord decides he does not want to keep the situation like that. To avoid this you can set up a reoccurring payment on your bank account, so you won’t need to worry about being late with the rent payments.
Sign a Flatmates agreement. When you have worked out all the details about how you will pay for the shared expenses, it is worth the time to write it down in a flatmates agreement. It may seem strange and overly precautions to sign a contract with your flatmates, especially when you already know each other and you are friends, but having all the details written down can save you from arguments in the future. Other then the finances you can add the other rules you agree upon, such as cleaning schedule, pets and guests.
Renting an apartment with flatmates might require paying some extra attention to details, however, it can also be a great experience and enable you to afford a bigger, nicer and better equipped apartment than you could on your own. So sit down with your flatmate, and with these tips you talk through the process of splitting the apartment’s utilities bills and expenses. It can happen that after moving in the apartment you have to revise the rules, in this case you don’t need to get scared, just do it. Being smart with your finances doesn’t mean you are not flexible and fun, it only means you are responsible and plan ahead.
Good luck on your new apartment, and don’t forget – if you have not found yet the perfect apartment to rent in the Budapest or your new roommates, you can find here listings or properties for rent in Hungary and flatmates profiles.
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