The House Guest’s Guide To Not Overstaying Your Welcome

Whether it’s due to a lack of funds, or you just needing a place to crash for a few days, the ability to stop over at a friend’s place can be a godsend. Unfortunately, there’s often a fine line between your hosts enjoying your company and wanting to never see you again (or at least for a while).

Here’s how to avoid overstaying your welcome while couch surfing.

#1 Listen out for key words and phrases

When you’re staying with your mates, you need to remember that ultimately, it’s their home and it’s more than OK for them to kick you out whenever they like, so listen out for the cues.

Friends sometimes tend to be less upfront with us in these situations, in order to avoid the awkwardness and spare feelings. Things like, “How long did you say you were staying again?” or “I have a lot on next week” might be them subtly hinting that it’s time for you to skedaddle.

If you’re ever unsure, just ask them – when confronted, they should come clean. It’s always better to knock these kinds of things on the head before they manifest into something ugly.

#2 Chip in

This is important – if you’re staying with a friend for free, chewing up their electricity, eating their food and using their water, you’ve got to chip in.

We get it, if you’re currently living on your friend’s couch you may not be in the financial position to be chucking in money, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a monetary contribution.

While your friends are out, give the house a clean, cook them dinner or walk their dogs. These are only little jobs, but they let your hosts know that you appreciate what they’re doing for you – that goes a long way.

In saying that, if you do have the cash, money is probably more suitable – living ain’t cheap.

#3 Leave no trace of your existence

As a couch-surfer you kind of need to double as a ninja, making yourself unnoticed – nobody likes their living room looking overly lived in. When you leave for the day, ensure the place is just how you left it.

This is as simple as folding up any blankets and sheets you used, tucking that sofa back into the couch and giving the lounge room a quick vacuum – again, it won’t be unnoticed and your hosts will be thankful.

#4 NEVER complain

As they say, don’t bite the hand that feeds you – so for god’s sake never ever complain while couch surfing. I don’t care if the hot water is temperamental, the couch is lumpy or your hosts don’t stock your preferred brand of cereal: if you feel the need to complain you should probably just leave.

Your pals are doing you a solid, and being unappreciative is a massive slap in the face to them.

#5 Stick to the agreement

If you guys agreed on you staying for five days, leave after five days – pretty simple. More than likely, it wasn’t a number just randomly picked: remember that your hosts have lives too.

Think of it this way – if you had your parents coming visit for the weekend, would you really want some rando sleeping on your couch throughout? Probably not, so be wary of plans they may have made.

staying with mates house guest couch surfing

The only reason why you’d stay longer than agreed is if you’d a chat with your buddies and they’re happy to keep you for a little while longer. Besides, if you’ve followed the rules thus far they’d be thinking you’re a great guest, buying you more time.

#6 Tones & body language

Again, rather than an awkward exchange, your hosts might start exhibiting some interesting ways of passive-aggressively hinting at you to leave. And hey, that’s pretty normal – not everyone is great with confrontation.

The best way to combat this is to be upfront, the sooner you catch on to it the better. The second you notice an excess amount of eye rolls or death stares shot in your general direction, ask what’s up – there’s nothing worse than a hostile living situation. 

#7 Have an exit plan

Have an escape route at the ready. If your friends need you gone and you have nowhere to stay, that’s really not their responsibility.

It’s good if you can have a few friends to lean on during these times of need: not only will you have some variety, you’ll feel like less of a burden and be able to master these hot tips, becoming the most courteous couch surfer that ever lived.

The most important thing to remember in any situation similar to this is communication is key – nothing is unsolvable, and usually all it takes is a conversation.

Bradley is a writer from Newcastle who enjoys travel, Tina Fey and is a connoisseur of cheap red wine.