Splitting a rental cottage with a big group is a great way to keep costs down. But a dozen friends or family members in close proximity can create some challenges.
The key is communication and planning, says Samantha Aguirre, who has split a cottage with friends every summer for the past eight years. She shares a few tips to keep things running smoothly so your group can have a memorable cottage getaway.
1. Communicate before the trip
The first step should be discussing everybody’s expectations. While you may be content to lay in a hammock for a week, others might have a long list of must-haves. To make all this communication simpler, create a text chain or group chat to help coordinate the trip. “We have a group chat on Instagram,” Aguirre says. “We confirm everything there so everyone’s on the same page.”
2. Nominate one person to take charge
It can be helpful for one person to take the lead, Aguirre says. “I tend to be the organizer. We found through the first couple years of cottaging together that it’s just easier to have one person who takes charge.” It’s also better for your host if they have one person as a point of contact for the rest of the group.
But the organizer doesn’t need to do the entirety of the work. Ask people to volunteer to manage different parts of the trip, such as driving, navigating day trips, or bringing games and movies to the cottage.
3. How to split the costs
As the group’s organizer, Aguirre pays the full price and then collects the split from each member of the group. It’s typically a simple formula, though she admits it’s trickier when people visit for the weekend, for example, rather than the full week.
There are a few ways you can divide the costs of a rental cottage. It can be split by person, by room, or proportionally, per person per night. If this sounds like too much math for a vacation, you can use an app like Splitwise to help keep track of shared expenses. You’ll also need to consider what happens if someone drops out and whether they’re still responsible for any costs.
4. Master cottage meal planning
Meal planning can be simple if you plan ahead and stick to the basics. Aguirre asks everybody to bring their own snacks, but otherwise, she buys the majority of the meals and then splits the costs. She even does some prepping before the trip. “It just makes life easier. We just pull things out of the freezer, let it defrost and cook it.” Alternatively, if you’re sharing the cottage across multiple families, each family can be responsible for one day or one meal, from the prep to the cleanup.
5. Determine sleeping arrangements ahead of time
Not all beds are created equal. Rather than first come, first serve, try to allocate rooms during the planning stage to avoid any squabbles. But Aguirre says her group has never had any disputes over sleeping arrangements. “The single guys crash on the bunk beds, the couples take a room with a double bed, and the odd straggler who’s up the latest takes the couch,” she says. “Sometimes we try to get the drivers a good bed if they’re doing a lot of driving for a day trip.”