Who Gets The Master Bedroom? 9 Ways To Decide

in Roommates on by
A large vacant master bedroom.

Communal living always comes with challenges. Even if you were an only child, chances are there were some trying times with your parents. As an adult, cohabitating with other adults is fraught with disputes, often starting with who gets the master or largest bedroom in the apartment, condo, or house upon moving in.

Solutions to this problem vary, running the gamut from common sense to all-out bidding wars and game playing. Heed the advice of one of these clever ideas (along with a backup or two in case your first choice goes awry), and you and your new roomies should be back to being friends in no time. Most importantly, remember to keep the process light-hearted — after all, it’s just a room.

Simple Logic

The person with the most or largest bedroom furniture needs the most square footage. You also can’t assume that any roommates even want the larger room. Some people feel more comfortable in cozy spaces or consider larger rooms harder to keep clean. Ask everyone their preferences before you unnecessarily complicate things.

Creativity Crush

From artsy types to nerds and beyond, most people fancy themselves creative geniuses in some shape or form. Why not turn the master bedroom debate into a “plead your case” scenario, relying on individual presentations on why you all deserve the bigger room? Write a poem, make a PowerPoint presentation, create a painting or sculpture that illustrates your case, or record a touching video on your phone. Choose a judge or panel of judges that has no stake in the contest and a reputation for impartiality.

Toughing It Out

Old-fashioned strength matches are hard to beat when it comes to determining who gets to sleep in the master bedroom. All the competitors have to agree on is if the challenge will be physical or mental, then decide on the game: arm wrestling, swimming for speed, distance, or endurance — any kind of competition will do. If the contestants prefer to match wits, set up a skill-based board game or battle on the field of a video game.

Secret Bidding

A quick and simple way to fill the big bedroom is by holding a secret bid. This requires a winning combination of figuring out how much you can afford to comfortably pay each month for the room and trying to guess how high your roommate will bid. Start by calculating the cost per square foot of the whole apartment or house and determine exactly what the master bedroom is worth. The rub comes in attempting to predict whether or not your competitor will bid above market value or lowball it and make you the winner by a few dollars or pennies.

Old-Fashioned Bidding

Nothing’s more fun than a traditional bidding war, especially if you have a friend who can mimic the speed and tone of a professional auctioneer. For maximum efficiency, start the bidding by dividing the weekly rent evenly among the roommates and limiting the bids to $5 increments until you have a winner. For extra amusement, use bid flags for each contestant to wave in the air as the tension escalates.

Give and Take

Two roommates arguing over their new apartment's master bedroom.

Bartering is a lost art that typically satisfies all parties, and different people rarely rank life’s amenities in the same order of importance. This approach may require a long conversation if you don’t know your roommate(s) that well, but what you’ll all gain from it is absolutely priceless. For example, one person may not care at all about the size of their bedroom but highly value their motorcycle. A roommate who doesn’t mind street parking could trade off their secure, sheltered off-street spot for a larger bedroom that has the precious extra closet space they’ve been yearning.

Paying Per Square Foot

The most pragmatic way to assign rooms is simply to have everyone pay for the square footage of their respective spaces. Just calculate how much the monthly rent is per square foot of the whole property. The size of common areas such as the kitchen, living room, bathrooms, hallways, etc. should be excluded as everyone will probably be using them fairly equally. Whoever is willing to pay the most for the master bedroom does so, and the remaining roommates pay their fair shares, too. In cases where more than one person can afford the larger space, you’ll have to resort to another method.

Room Race

This approach is self-explanatory. Contenders for the master bedroom simply race an equal distance to the room up for grabs, and whoever gets there first wins. To make it interesting and less susceptible to tripping and falling through hallways, choose several starting points a mile or so away and draw straws to determine who starts where. Decide if it will be a foot race or involve bikes or cars. Communicate by cell phone, making sure everyone’s watches are synchronized, and let the games begin. For added intrigue, turn the competition into a scavenger hunt by planting cryptic objects and notes to collect along the way.

Luck of the Draw

Moving into a new home is an exhausting process, and fun and games might be the last thing on you and your roommates’ minds. For that reason, the simplest and quickest way to assign bedrooms is via a game of chance. Flip a coin, draw straws, or pick a number — the winner simply chooses the room they want, and everyone else gets on with their lives.

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