Relocating for an apprenticeship

What are your accommodation options if the apprenticeship you want is a long way from home?

You’ve found an apprenticeship you like the look of… but it’s miles away from home. Should you relocate for it, and if so where would you live? We’ve spoken to three young people who left home to take up an apprenticeship – and one who’s spent a lot of time away – about where they live and how they’ve found the experience.

Got friends who’re at uni? Consider a house share with them

If you’ve got friends who’re at uni (or about to start) in the same town or city as your apprenticeship, you could consider a house share.

Ruth Watson, a civil engineering apprentice at Mott MacDonald, comments: ‘I moved away from home for my apprenticeship as it is based in Leeds. Luckily, I had friends at university in Leeds, so I moved into a student house with them. The hardest part has been not going home as much as them (they have long holidays), but it’s great to be able to socialise with them.’

Things to take into account include:

  • You’re unlikely to be eligible for university-owned accommodation (though this is worth investigating if you’re doing a degree apprenticeship), so this is more an option if your friends are renting privately.
  • You and your friends will probably lead quite different lifestyles if you’re working and they’re not. Many students have a relatively low number of contact hours each week (when they have to be in uni), so staying up late and partying on weeknights are a realistic option for them. This could soon start to annoy you if you’re getting up for work at 7.00 am each day.
  • Council tax arrangements can be a bit complicated if some people in a property are full-time students and some aren’t. Households inhabited only by full-time students don’t get billed for council tax, but some apprentices have to pay, which could lead to a bill for the whole household. You can find more detail on the gov.uk website.

Find a house share with people you don’t know yet

There are lots of house shares available all over the country, and various websites dedicated to helping you find one. Alternatively, ask around… you might find that your Mum’s best friend’s daughter lives in the right area and has a room she’s keen to rent out.

Tilly Casey, a production (site) management trainee at Wates, comments: ‘I moved from Hull to London for the apprenticeship, which is somewhere I always wanted to move to. I didn’t like my first house share but I’ve moved to a better place now.’

If you don’t know anyone in the area you might feel lonely at first, but you can meet new people through your apprenticeship or by joining a local club or society. Tilly says: ‘The hardest thing for me is probably not being in the same place as my friends. They’re all at university, we have different lifestyles and it takes a lot of time and money to travel across the country to see them. I’ve met a lot of new friends through work, though. I’m particularly close to one girl and we’re going on holiday to Mykonos.’

Things to take into account include:

  • If possible, it’s a good idea to meet the people you’d be sharing with in person before agreeing to the house share. Ask them questions to find out whether the lifestyle they lead would be a good fit for you.
  • Check the rental agreement carefully, including how long you’d need to commit for. A contract that allows you to leave with a month or two’s notice gives you more flexibility to leave if you don’t get on with your housemates than signing up for six months or a year.
  • For popular house shares there are likely to be more people wanting to move in than there are rooms available, in which case the owner or current housemates will probably pick who they want the room to go to.
  • If you want to view properties and meet the people you’ll be living with before you sign a contract (highly recommended!) it’s likely to be more time consuming that checking out university accommodation, as you’ll need to visit multiple properties and are unlikely to be able to get them all lined up for the same day.
  • An alternative to finding a room and accepting the housemates that come with it is to find people you want to live with first and then look for a house or flat together – various websites can help match you up like this.

Organise a house share with fellow apprentices

If your employer is taking on several apprentices and you’re not the only one relocating, you could consider organising a house share with them. You could connect with them in advance to get something lined up (for example, your employer might put you in touch with other new starters), or find temporary accommodation and then see who you get on with once you start work.

Check if your employer could offer accommodation

It’s unusual for an employer to offer accommodation to apprentices, but not unheard of. The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology offers purpose-built on-site accommodation to first years on its degree apprenticeship programme – you’ll live in a ‘pod’ with a sleeping and study area and your own bathroom, and have facilities such as a café and bar nearby.

Muhsina Kamal, a degree apprentice at The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, comments: ‘One of the reasons I was attracted to this opportunity was being able to live in accommodation on-site, in a campus environment. I felt it would help to combine work with a university-like experience. Even in the short time since I started, I’ve found a group of friends and have been involved in clubs and societies.’

Temporary stays away from home

You might find an apprenticeship close to home but need to stay away on a regular basis for training or work purposes – for example if you need to attend a college, university or client’s office that isn’t within commuting distance. In these cases it’s typical for your employer to organise and pay for your accommodation, which might be in a hotel or a residential training centre. It can be a good way to get to know your fellow apprentices or other colleagues better, though it can take a bit of adjusting to.

Darbie Hughes, an electrical fitting apprentice at UK Power Networks, comments: ‘Most of the first year of my apprenticeship was spent in training, which involved a lot of travelling to different training centres and staying in hotels. I also attended college in Somerset to work towards my professional qualification in power engineering, which I did in month-long blocks. Balancing studying with training and work was never an issue for me, but it did take a while to get used to spending so long away from home. It was definitely a big, sudden change, but I’m glad I took this risk.’

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