There are plenty of how to guides on being a great host when someone visits your home, but what about tips for when you are the house guest? Over the past three months I have been an eternal house guest with various friends, relatives and at airbnb’s, as the flat I had bought wasn’t ready on the dates originally agreed. It was a stressful day the week before Christmas when I received an email from the developers expecting a move in date only to be told that there were delays…of at least two months!!!
Fortunately many people rallied around me, from my boss who has let me store all my furniture and boxes in his house, to friends who opened up their homes and allowed me to crash on couches or in spare rooms. I’ve also taken advantage of cheaper winter prices on Airbnb and lived in expensive areas of London that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford and had the experience of walking to work in central London. After sleeping in nine beds in the past twelve weeks I’ve come up with some tips on being a lovely house guest that will ensure you keep your friendships and also get positive reviews on Airbnb!
Be clear about how long you are staying. Whether you are staying with friends or at an Airbnb this is critical information. Pick a time frame, stick to it and be clear (especially with friends) about your next move. This was key with my friends so they didn’t think I was going to be one of those people that never left or had permanently made a home on their couch!
Fall in with the house schedule. When I live in my own space I don’t think twice about taking a dance class that finishes at 9.30pm meaning I will get home around 11pm and taking a late shower. This is not going to fly with your friends and temporary Airbnb housemates so it is best to postphone the class until the weekend. I would also check in before going to bed with everyone on what their routine was going to be in the morning. Who needed to get to work when? This then meant there weren’t any morning madness over bathrooms and people late for work.
Learn from you new housemates. Whilst I kept a few of my weekly after work classes in play I also opened up my routine to join my new housemates in how they lived. One of my friends has just moved to London and thus is attending every event and trying all the restaurants. It was great to see my home town through fresh eyes and with infectious enthusiasm that has meant I am now seeking out new places again. Another couple, F&H, didn’t have a TV, instead playing music and making food together for all of us (very European). As someone who previously had the biggest pay TV package and recorded so many programs it was stressful logging in the hours needed to watch them, this was refreshing. Even as I write this blogpost I have music playing in the background rather then a TV show which has been a direct influence from my time with F&H.
Become OCD about your belongings, the hosts things and being clean. Make sure your things don’t spread out and even if you are in a room everything is kept neat and tidy. I made sure I put everything back where I found it in my hosts house. It is just respectful and means they aren’t hunting for their scissors, muttering your name under their breath when you are off at a dance class! I also made sure I asked where the cleaning bits and bobs were and the vacuum and cleaned up after myself to a high level. Even if your hosts have a cleaner this is just good manners especially if you have long hair like me as it gets everywhere!
Pay Your Dues. Typically your friends aren’t going to ask you to pay for your stay for a few days but it is always nice to give them something as a thank you. Money is ok as this can be put towards bills but it is nicer to get to know your hosts and do something for them. One of my friends was saying that since moving to London he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in three months. So when I arrived on a late Sunday afternoon I made sure I had everything to make a roast chicken and my host still talks about it months later. Another couple spoke about how they were looking forward to going to the see certain movies that were coming out soon so I bought them tickets to a cinema near them that has couches, allows you to take in wine and also has a great restaurant for a meal beforehand. For Airbnb hosts it is slightly different but for one who I knew was flying in late the Sunday night I left I washed the sheets and hung them out so they didn’t have to worry about that during the week.
What sort of things do you do as a houseguest? What is the best houseguest you have had?