Having roommates means sharing more than just living space. The responsibility of cleaning and paying bills should also be shared. How to divide living expenses can be a touchy subject to approach; so, it’s important to discuss this ahead of time and have a plan in place before the bills come due. Otherwise, you run the risk of making late payments and deciding who is responsible for the fees (an even more difficult conversation than splitting simple expenses).
One way to divide bills is to split every one down the middle. If you do this, it may be best to have every bill come in one person’s name. This person can keep a spreadsheet showing all the bills for the month, and then around the time the rent is due, the other roommate gives her a check for half of the living expenses plus half the rent. That is assuming two roommates; obviously, the rent and other expenses will need to be divided by however many people live in the house or apartment. If you use this method, make sure that each roommate is fully aware of his responsibilities and no one gets stuck with more than their share of the bills and rent.
Another way to split the bills is to have one person pay all the bills and utilities, and the other person pays the rent. This is only a fair arrangement if the amount of bills is roughly equal to the amount of the rent. Oh, and never expect to get a free ride just because your roommate makes more money than you do. You might be a street sweeper and she’s a big time software developer, but you still have to pull your own weight.
The other question that arises is how to split the cost of groceries and shared household items. Roommates who are friends will likely have no problem sharing food and other things. But if it becomes a problem, each person can do their own grocery shopping and label their food. Until you’re comfortable with each other, separate groceries may be best. As the roommate relationship grows, you may feel more comfortable sharing food with one another.