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How to Be a Good House Guest: 6 Tips for Staying with Family & Friends

Finding a place to stay during a life transition can be tricky. Extended stay hotels and short-term rentals are common temporary housing options for people who are building new homes, between leases, or moving to a new city. However, sometimes, a more affordable solution is to live with family or friends.

This solution typically comes with little to no cost, provides a more comfortable environment, and allows for flexibility in terms of length of stay. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be a guest in someone else’s home, so you don’t want to inconvenience them. To ensure that both you and your temporary host enjoy your time together, follow these six tips on how to be a good house guest!

Discuss Length of Stay with Your Host

Roommates chatting in living room

Staying with a family member or friend is convenient, but living in another person’s home can be intrusive if boundaries haven’t been set. That’s why you should determine how long you need a place to stay first and foremost. One of the most important rules for house guest etiquette is to make sure you communicate your intentions before moving in. If you have a plan set but your time frame changes, see if you can renegotiate terms or consider other temporary housing options to get you through the remainder of your time frame.

Follow Your Host’s Routines & Rules

Man petting dog on couch

Every person lives their life differently than you do. Before you get settled, start by asking if there are any specific routines or house rules for guests you should know. Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

  • Do you have a certain time you like to go to bed?
  • When do you normally get your day started?
  • Should I take off my shoes when coming into the house?
  • Are pets allowed in the home or on the furniture?

It might feel weird to ask about these things, especially because you’re an adult, but adhering to someone else’s lifestyle shows great house guest etiquette and that you respect the person you’re staying with.

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Find Ways to Entertain Yourself Without Your Host

Men meeting at restaurant

While staying at someone else’s place, it’s a good house guest etiquette to keep yourself busy without relying on your host. This puts less stress on your host because they don’t feel the need to entertain you, and it gives you some time away from each other. You can meet up with a friend, stop by a local coffee shop, visit a museum, or volunteer at a community center. Whatever you do, be a good guest by letting your host know when you’ll be leaving and coming back. You should also make sure you have transportation lined up so you’re not relying on your host to shuttle you around.

Help Your Host When Needed, But Don’t Pester Them

Mature mother and daughter doing laundry together

Everyone appreciates a helping hand, but in a home that’s become more crowded, constantly offering to help whenever and wherever possible can be a nuisance. If you’re looking to be the ultimate house guest and help but don’t want to seem like you’re overreaching or getting in the way, start with what’s simple:

  • Clear dishes off the table and clean them or place in dishwasher
  • Turn off the TV and lights when leaving a room
  • Keep your living space neat, even if you’re living out of a suitcase
  • Buy groceries for yourself or replace anything you’ve been given
  • If your host has a dog, take the dog for a walk, feed them, and clean up after them
  • Politely offer to cook meals every now and then

If work around the home is limited, you could also be a good house guest by offering to chip in for any expenses or bills toward the house, especially if you plan on being there long term.

Don’t Leave Any Messes Behind

Woman making bed in house

As you get ready to leave, there are a few things you should do to practice great house guest etiquette. Start by cleaning up the room you occupied with stripping sheets and returning any items like books or extra blankets back to their places. Then, check to make sure you didn’t forget to pack items like chargers or toiletries. If you’ve used up any items such as toilet paper, cotton swabs, soap, or shampoo, make sure you replenish these so your host doesn’t have to.

Give Your Host a Thank You Gift Before Leaving

Friend giving thank you gift

Since your host is most likely a family member or friend who you know fairly well, avoid generic gifts like candles or soap. For the best house guest gifts, opt for something that’s catered to their specific interests. If your host is big into cooking, consider buying a vegetable or spice plant they could add to their garden or a cool new kitchen gadget you heard them talking about. Gifting something a little more like tickets to a nearby show or treating them to a nice evening out are also good house guest gifts. Be sure to send a personal thank you note after you’ve arrived at your new home as well.


If you’re getting ready to stay with family or friends, self storage can serve as good alternative to trying to bring more belongings than you need. Find a storage rental near you with Extra Space Storage!

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