Living with Others: A Guide to Being a Good House Guest
You never thought you’d be in this place of destitution. Here you are thinking back to the days when you had your own money and your own place- your own materials and now it is gone. The good news is that you have found someone to live with.
The bad news: It is not your home. So whatever you used to do, wipe that mental slate clean. You are in someone else’s home now and they will have some surprising habits that may blow your mind-but you can survive. This guide is for those who lost their homes and need encouragement from their perspective. The ones letting you live with them are kind enough to accept you, but sometimes their kindness can change to something really bad. If you follow this guide you may stress less.
Surprised, aren't you? This first piece of advice has nothing to do with cleaning up, money, or other rules(that will come later). As a house guest you will have to adjust your attitude. This is important for setting the atmosphere of relaxation in your host’s place.
For example: If you are normally a talkative, bubbly, openly friendly person then that is fine. However, your host may not be that way. So loud talking and trying to be chatty may not help your situation.
My husband and I lived with a person who just did not speak to us at all. Actually, I can remember exactly two conversations with her and after that she would walk out the door and come home and speak with her own blood relatives; we were pretty much invisible.
People are wickedly sensitive these days and will not find your awesome spirit welcome. Same thing goes for quiet folks. Your host may be bubbly and friendly but you are not. Especially since you are living with them and have no place to go-you have earned the right to be sour.
This is not to say that you have to change your personality. The goal here is to adjust to the host’s emotional-style of living. In fact, some hosts rather you not be friends with them(remember my quiet host?) you are just a roommate. Find some new friends to talk to. Don’t change who you are, just be mindful.
The Do Nots
- Do not oversleep.
- Do not eat your host's food(without permission).
- Do not sit around the house all day.
- Do not harass, sleep with, or use their friends/family.
- Do not pay ALL of the rent and utilities.(Only what you agreed upon)
- Do not give out host's address to strangers.
- Do not make copies of keys without permission.
- Do not skip out on some form of written contract between you and your host.
Here is where the ground rules have to be laid in the beginning. When you first live with someone they should explain all of this to you.
Social rules involves sleepovers, visitation, and other social activities. By you being a guest, there will be people stopping over to visit the host from time to time and they may or may not know who you are. In some cases, if you are sleeping on the living room couch or floor and your host is not sensitive to your need for privacy, they will let people come over and see you in all your…mess. And honestly, this is their home and their family and friends are not going to change just for you, and your host is not giving up his/her life for you either.
Same thing goes for you. Bringing friends, lovers, and family over has to be discussed with your host first. It is simply about respect because some hosts feel that if you are bringing these people over on a regular basis, perhaps you should live with them. This last part seems harsh, but even the kindest host thinks this in the back of their minds at some point.
So how do you deal with this? Simple: Talk with your house host as soon as you move in with them about visitations. Even though you are a guest, you are not an animal either so you do have the right to ask how often their friends and family come over(and when yours came come by as well) and what to expect ahead of time.
If you were not as clean with your own home, you have to kick that habit and quick. The most popular complaint on court shows is that a house guest was a slob. Now, some house hosts are even nastier but the fact is you are in their home. You can’t exactly tell them they are dirty too because then you will get the boot for sure. You will have more say in a situation if you are paying rent(will discuss later) but for now here is what you do:
- Clean up your mess. That’s it. Whatever you mess up, clean up. If you use the dishes-wash them. Use the shower-clean it. The bathroom-clean it.
- You are not a maid service so stripping floors and washing your host’s dirty clothes, and cooking them meals is not your responsibility. Some house hosts will try to make it seem that way, but it is not why you are there.
- If you do not have a job, then quit reading this guide and go find one. In the long run, you will find yourself doing above and beyond(washing host's clothes, stripping floors,etc.) just to earn your keep otherwise.
Essential Items You Must Have
Always have a ready made kit available or order one.
Keep Yourself Safe and in Control
While living with our quiet roommate, as humble as she was, we were still in a harsh neighborhood and we've had a cell phone and laptop battery stolen from us.
As a guest, you are in another world. You have entered someone’s domain where everything is theirs.
- You have to keep your items separated from theirs, or if you have a caring host they will not mind sharing. You may have to label your foods and drinks though.
- Keep toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, your own toilet paper, paper towels, etc, near you..
- But if you are living with someone ignorant, or living in a place where thieves roam, you may want to begin looking into a storage unit.
- You can easily find cheap deals on storage that is the size of a small closet. Items you will not immediately need can go in there.
Would you let a friend or family member live with you?
Money Talks...A Lot
We are at the most critical part in any relationship: Money. For those of you who are not working- this part is not for you. And you may want to start on those house duties.
If you are working then you have a responsibility to help pay off some things. Do not dish out all of your money- this is not wise. You still need to save for your own place. However, when you first sit down and chat with your host, you need to work out who pays what.
Utilities can easily be split down the middle. You use their electricity and their gas so you need to help with that. Rent most definitely can be split. Now, if you have a good host, they will analyze how much you bring in from work and be a bit sympathetic because truth be told, if you could pay high bills you would not be in this predicament.
When you are a paying guest, life can go a bit smoother for you. You can afford to have more say in household issues.
*If your host has pets, you can’t possibly be obligated to care for them. If you are not an animal lover this is especially degrading for you as a guest. The host decided to buy a pet. Not you. If you can offer to buy pet food or something to that effect, then fine. But cleaning cages and such is not cool. If you are not working though, you will be cleaning those cages to earn your right to stay.
To summarize, if you are unhappy living with someone else then try really hard to make that move quickly. It is frustrating being helpless and dependent on people who have authority to kick you out at anytime; but if you try to reason with your host from the beginning, things might go smoothly and in your favor.