Ask Alice: Advice for Life at Home

Alice, My House Guest Just Won’t Leave

updated May 4, 2019
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Dear Alice,

My cousin is moving to my city and I made the mistake of inviting her to stay on my couch while she is looking for an apartment. I thought this would take a few weeks, max. So far, it’s been a month and it doesn’t seem like she’s making very much progress on her own place. She IS trying, but her budget is very limited (which I only found out once she arrived) and so she’s having a hard time finding something she can afford. It’s not about money. In fact, I don’t want to try to charge her rent or anything because I feel like it’ll just eat up her savings which she needs to get a place. I’m just really tired of having someone in my space all the time. She’s nice and cleans up after herself, but my place is really small so it’s getting to be stressful and I’m really ready to have my privacy back. She also doesn’t have a job yet so it’s 24/7. But she’s already here; I can’t just kick her out with nowhere to go. What should I do?

Hating Being a Hostess

Dear Hostess,

Oh dear. That is rough. I can see you’ve already realized that an open-ended invite can backfire very quickly. First, a question: does your cousin have anyone else around who she knows? In other words, can you hand her off to another relative or friend for a while? I think a month on your couch means you’ve DONE your duty, so if there is anyone else who’d be willing to take a turn playing host, you should let them.

If not, things get a little harder. If you can do anything to help her find a place (that you haven’t already) by all means do. Call in a favor, poll your coworkers for vacancies — you’ll be helping yourself, too. If that doesn’t work, I think it’s tough love time. You need to give her a time limit. I could be that, even though she is looking, she’s being a little too picky because she feels like she can take her time. If you tell her straight-out that you can really only host her for another few weeks, she’ll have to get her butt in gear and figure something out, even if it’s just something temporary like a sub-lease while she takes her time looking.

Best of luck.


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