If your work placement is in a university town you may be able to find some good, low-cost student accommodation. However, this has disadvantages as well as advantages as ERAC’s Aaron Thompson and Alex Chilvers found out when they tried it:
Relocation should not be an issue when it comes to finding a placement. Yes, it will mean you won’t be able to keep all the money you earn, but if relocating gives you the opportunity to start earning and gain experience then you should take it.
You may find that your place of work is near to a university and this means you may be able to find student housing at student rates! Although this looks like a good option there are many pros and cons to consider before taking the plunge.
Living in a student house means you share a house with people of a similar age, probably with common interests like music, TV, food and movies. These kinds of shared interests will make your placement year more enjoyable and less lonely. Additionally it means you’ll get the chance to build and create new relationships which can give you opportunities to network and live a normal student life outside work. Rent is usually cheaper in a student house, and if you live near a university, then you’ll probably be able to find student discounts and other deals in some shops or on trains, trams and buses. This will leave more money in your pocket.
Alternatively, you could try living on your own. There’ll be no more worrying about having to answer questions about your day at work, no arguments over what’s for dinner or fights over the television remote. If you’re living solo, these are all decisions you get to make on your own and there’ll be no one around to question them! It also means you won’t have to put up with a bunch of students who are having house parties and generally staying up late while you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep ready for work in the morning.
Perhaps surprisingly, cooking for yourself is a major factor when living away from home. The problem isn’t so much whether you can cook or not, it’s more finding the motivation to actually do it after a long, hard day’s work when all you really want to do is relax. However, you need to eat, so take advantage of your freedom and please yourself – have a quiet meal in, go out to eat with friends, whip up some beans on toast or a prepare a sumptuous banquet for one. (If you live with students, you may even be able to get away with asking them to cook for you now and again, so long as you return the favour.)
It can be scary, and I’ll never forget the feeling of knowing that dad wasn’t going to be there to do the D-I-Y, that mum wasn’t around to clean or do my laundry and that it was all down to me; then there were all the other jobs like doing the dishes, taking the bins out and managing my bills. At first, I had no idea where to start, but placement living helped me to get to grips with all that.
So there are pro and cons. Relocating and living with students adds to your overall experience, is cheaper, but can sometimes be inconvenient. Living on your own can leave your finances stretched pretty thin but that’s balanced by the satisfaction of cutting the leash from your parents and being able to provide entirely for yourself. And that’s an unmatchable feeling.