There are lots of rules to follow whenever you want to get along with someone, especially if you’re living in their home. These rules can be delicate, however, because everyone is different and while generally people may appreciate the same things such as respect and kindness, hosts may react in distinct ways when they are not given those things. If you don’t want to feel the wrath of a wife who has to clean up messes you keep living in the living room or the husband who has had to go into three different rooms of his own home in order to make a phone call where he can hear above the din of your TV, maybe you should read the list below.
1. Be loud
When you’re a guest and you tend to be loud, it can really disturb hosts who are used to a quieter environment or who don’t like to be surprised by loud music or phone calls. Be mindful to control your volume and the volume of your music or television when you’re staying with someone else.
2. Eat freely from the fridge or pantry
While some people give the open invitation to “help yourself” to whatever they have, there are others who may be more particular about their food or even paper towels, candy, Ziploc bags, etc. It could be weird to directly ask someone how they feel about these things, and they may not even want to tell you, so it’s probably a better idea to err on the safe side and ask permission when you need to use something or want to take some of those Doritos. A friend of mine worked for someone who got extremely upset that she ate her Doritos and I know my sister would always get upset when people touched her cereal, so believe me when I say it’s a thing!
3. Get involved in arguments
I don’t need to say much here. Getting involved in other’s quarrels is never wise! If you do it while you’re staying at someone else’s place, you’re guaranteed to make your stay very uncomfortable, because it’s likely that by voicing your opinion you’ll be taking a side and the other person may hold a grudge or not really want to be around you. If you’re not staying with a couple, and your host is a friend that asks for your advice, then that’s a different story.
4. Do something they’ve told you not to even if you consider it a favor
I remember when my husband and I lived with his parents, I felt like I was useless because my first son had just been born so I wasn’t sleeping or doing anything but making sure he was alive (and sometimes showering). I wasn’t working or paying rent, and I didn’t like being in their way, but since it was so nice of them to share their home with me, I took it upon myself to wash the dishes every once in awhile. My mother-in-law insisted that I not bother, but I insisted that it was “no big deal”. Later, I realized that she actually hated when I did the dishes because I put everything in the dishwasher in a way different than she did. My husband later complained of this same thing in our home, so I kicked myself for not noticing at the time that I was actually making things harder for my dear host and mother-in-law! Now, I listen if someone tells me not to do something in their house.
5. Use the washer or dryer without checking their schedule
This might seem random, but these days, it seems people struggle to make time for their laundry given their busy schedules and other daily tasks. It may get pushed to the weekends for some people, but others may have found another system which works for them, and if you’re staying in their house washing a T-shirt every night or just throwing in your dirty clothes whenever you feel like it, without checking (even if they aren’t home), you might be destabilizing their carefully worked out routine for doing their own laundry. Ask first! Maybe they won’t care if you throw your stuff in the washer but if they have to do their laundry next and your things are in the dryer, it could irritate them to have to wait. It also puts you at risk of having to fold their personal items if they forget to take their stuff out of the dryer!
Follow God’s commandments! Stealing is never a good thing. Don’t do it to your hosts. Even if it’s the smallest or most menial of things, they might notice, and it will be awkward forever, because I doubt they will confront you!
I think people have a natural tendency to snoop. I know people that do it everywhere they go for some reason, but it’s a gross violation of your friends’ and family’s privacy. If you think snooping is cool, perhaps you should stay at the nearest hotel to refrain yourself from doing something rude in the home of someone who’s graciously allowed you to stay with them!
8. Come in too late or too early
Respect curfew! There’s always a curfew. Do not stumble in at 3am unless your hosts are fraternity brothers or sorority sisters who are waiting to hear about your wild night out. In the same manner, do not wake up at 3am to exercise by doing jumping jacks on the second floor to your favorite jazzercise or Zumba DVD. Be thoughtful.
9. Take the last of something
It may seem rude to leave the empty carton of milk in the fridge instead of just using the last drop for your coffee or cereal, but some people may find it annoying to leave their home in the morning knowing there was milk in the fridge or one last water bottle or cheese stick and come back to see that now they have to buy more (even if they were going to have to anyway). If you’re there only for the weekend and they’re having a party, maybe they expect to have all their stuff such as beer or cups used, but just keep it in the back of your mind.
10. Complain about the condition of something
Complaining in general is not a cute trait, but if you’re doing it while you’re on vacation staying with people who have decided to share their home with you, it’s extremely rude! Don’t make remarks about the color they chose to paint their living room, or the way they discipline their kids. And if you don’t like their couch or shower because it’s not exactly what you expected or wanted, perhaps it’s time to start browsing the amenities at the nearest hotel.
11. Leave trash or your personal items in common areas
Don’t be dirty when you stay with someone else! Pick up after yourself. Empty plates and cups or even gum or fast food wrappers can attract bugs and is not ideal, especially for hosts who like to keep clean homes. Don’t make their job harder by making them clean up after you each time you sit down and litter on the couch, in the dining room, in the family room or even in your room! Bathrooms are probably the toughest to keep clean and you may have to use one that’s shared by others or that is a guest bathroom for everyone who visits (even during your stay), so pick up your towels, toiletries, and clothes each time!
12. Park in a way that blocks others
In college, one of my best friends and mentor taught me that every girl should know these three things: how to start a fire, how to open a wine bottle, and how to properly park. She took me with her to many parties at people’s homes where the people were all fun but also classy, and one time we went to one where she couldn’t park because the person before us had parked smack in the middle of the driveway. It was a long driveway but still messed up the parking for everyone after her, and I’ve remembered ever since to pay attention to where I park. You should, too! Your hosts may have to leave early in the morning for work and you don’t want them to have to take extra time to move your car out of their way. Talk about these things ahead of time or the night before at least!
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or staying long term at someone else’s place–be it a house, apartment, or even a condo or vacation home–you should be aware of acceptable etiquette or you may not get invited again. That shouldn’t come as a shock to people, but for some, it does. When in doubt, follow the golden rule and do unto others as you would have them to unto you.