Your best-laid plans have suddenly changed and you find yourself in a pinch. Perhaps the closing on the new home is stalled or there’s a gap between when your rental lease is up and the place you’re planning to move into will be ready. Maybe your new job suddenly wants you in the office weeks before your move’s been scheduled and there’s no acceptable workaround. Whatever the case, you’ll need to double up with friends or family temporarily. It’s by no means ideal, but at least you’ve found a short-term solution.
For this article, let’s make a few assumptions. First, that you’re not just couch surfing for a couple of nights. Also, that you’re not pushing yourself on your temporary hosts by guilting them into an agreement with which they’re not comfortable. Finally, that it’s a matter of accommodating one or two people, not a family of six and their pets.
Be Brutally Honest: Is It Practical?
While your host’s empathy and understanding may be working in your favor initially, the realities of the situation can quickly turn things awkward, uncomfortable or even hostile. Here’s one suggestion: If possible, do a trial run before you commit.
In all honesty, to get through anything besides the shortest of short-term stays you’ll probably need more than some blankets and a pull-out couch. As objectively as possible, look at what’s being offered. For example, would you be OK camping out in a basement or utility room? Are the bathrooms and laundry facilities able to accommodate extra people? Will you be sharing meals and grocery purchases—and how will this affect food prep and refrigerator space?
Even more important, where will all your belongings be housed during this in-between phase (and don’t just assume their garage or basement will suffice)? Something worth looking into is temporary storage for your possessions. Many long-distance movers, including United Van Lines, provide this service.
Set Some Basic Expectations
You each have your own routines and schedules to maintain—and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of spats over matters like dirty dishes, empty toilet paper rolls and overnight guests. Talk about wake up and sleep schedules, bathroom routines, work hours and personal habits, then find a compromise that works for everybody. Make all financial expectations very clear. If you’re sharing housing costs, determine how you’ll split rent, utilities, groceries, streaming services and any other household expenses. And be as generous as you can.
Respect Your Host’s Privacy
Even if you’re tempted, don’t go snooping into your host’s possessions and personal business. Stay neutral when there’s a disagreement between other household members that doesn’t directly involve you. And no matter what, resist the urge to make recommendations about the décor or spontaneously rearrange your host’s kitchen cabinets. You’ll be in your own space soon enough.
Plan a few outings or evenings that don’t include them. And even if it’s a little uncomfortable, let your host know if you need some alone time. Chances are they’ll open up more about their own privacy needs and potential conflicts will evaporate.
Remember, It’s Not a Hotel
Don’t treat your hosts like staff. For the time being, you need to pull your weight in this “extended family” dynamic. Rather than assuming your host will give you the B&B treatment, come up with a plan for dividing up chores, cleaning, bills, groceries, and other responsibilities. Wash dishes after a meal, take out the trash, sweep and mop floors, or buy groceries. And one last word of advice: Don’t hog the remote.
Monitor the “Relative Humidity”
Are you sensing some friction or even getting the silent treatment from your friend or relative? If you sense that the general vibe is becoming heated, don’t let things simmer till they suddenly boil over. If it helps, keep in mind that these people are doing you a favor by letting you stay with them—not the other way around. Get to the bottom of any issues before they devolve into harsh words, long-term grudges and lost relationships.
Which bring us to the most important tip of all:
Have an Exit Strategy
Nothing good—or for that matter bad—lasts forever. But “short-term” is a vague definition at best, and you and your host need to set a hard deadline for when you’ll simply have to move on. Hint: You may even want to put this in writing.
As you’re leaving, don’t forget to express gratitude for their generosity and hospitality. It could be springing for a special dinner or night out at the end of your stay. Whatever you do, keep in mind that they helped you out in a pinch and should be recognized for it.
Is a Move in the Works?
Why not let the professionals at United Van Lines take care of the heavy lifting? United’s full-service moving packages provide flexibility to mix and match the services you want and need, from packing and unpacking to standard furniture placement.
Get a quote from United Van Lines today.