Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Couch Crashing: Friend or Freeloader? Hero Label

Couch Crashing: Friend or Freeloader?

Help! A friend of mine has been crashing in the living room of my new apartment for a week now, and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon. He says he wants to "check out the city." How do I politely ask him to hit the road so I can have my place (and my life) back?

This is a classic example of why you should always pin down the starting and ending dates of any visit at the time you setting it up. Extending an open-ended invitation (“Sure, stay at my place as long as you like!”) is just asking for trouble. Since that’s the situation you’re stuck in, however, your best approach is to make it clear to your friend that, while you’ve enjoyed the visit, you’ll need to get back to your regular schedule soon. If necessary, mention a specific date and time: “I’m going to be starting a tough new work assignment on Monday morning. I’ll really need to have the living room free by then, so I can use it as a home office.”

If your friend still balks at leaving, offer to find him alternate accommodations: “I’d be glad to check out the rates at the Downtown Hotel—I think they’re pretty reasonable. And there’s also a youth hostel around the corner…” From the sound of your friend, the prospect of paying for accommodations should be enough to light a fire under him.