When you’re 18 or 19, the thought of going it alone and relocating for work can be very scary. Your friends are either off to live in university halls, or working locally while living at home with mum and dad.
But even if you don’t get much help from your employer, relocating for work is a lot easier when you know what you’re doing – which is why we’ve included the most important steps in this guide. And remember, plenty of help is at hand, from parents and older siblings, to teachers and careers advisors at your school or college.
Find out what relocation help your employer provides
Some employers offer "relocation expenses" – that’s money towards the move, to you and me. This may come up in your interview or when you receive your job or apprenticeship offer, as they will want to know how you feel about relocation if you live far from the role.
If not, don’t be afraid to ask. You don’t have to make it overtly about money; simply asking "Do you offer any help towards the move?" should be enough.
And it’s not all about the finances. Since you’re moving to a new place, you’ll want to know about the most suitable places to live for work, where’s safe and where’s best avoided, public transport, shopping and a multitude of other things. Ask to be paired up with someone who can answer these questions for you.
Choosing somewhere to live
Well, this is exciting – your first home away from home! It’s very important to get it right as when you rent, you’re usually tied in for at least six months.
What’s important to you?
You can minimise upsets by deciding some basic things before you start looking:
- Convenience: Getting to and from work.
- Safety: A house that’s secure and in a safe area.
- Cost: Somewhere you can afford with your new job or apprenticeship salary.
- Living arrangements: Do you want to live alone or share? Living alone will be more expensive, so you’ll need to think about cost.
'When moving house for your first job, think about convenience, safety and cost'
Location location location
Having thought about the basics, you can instantly rule out anywhere that’s too far from work, too expensive, or not the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in.
Now it’s time to make your "long list" – a list of properties that fit into your price range, seem to be a reasonable distance from work, and match your living arrangements. You can do your detailed research later.
Time to get online – make sure you use the filters on these websites to find suitable matches:
- SpareRoom: Really easy to search by post code.
- EasyRoommate: Put in specific details – for example, when you plan to move and how much you can afford – and get personalised results.
- Zoopla: A great site to use if you’re planning to rent a whole property. It shows properties on a map – you can even draw your own search area.
Narrow down your choices
To find out about commuting times, head to Google Maps, where you can pop in the post code and house number and see cycling and public transport routes to work. Google Maps shows different options and travel times for each. This way, you can rule out properties that are too far away and which don’t have the right transport links for you.
It’s really important to find out some extra details about the properties on your list:
- How safe is the neighbourhood?
- What is the typical rental price?
- What shops are around?
The website Check My Street lets you put in a post code and check average rental prices, information about crime, and details of local shops. It also gives you the broadband speed, which we’re sure you’ll agree is one of the most important features of all!
This way, you can eliminate anything that doesn’t fit the bill.
The chances are you’ll be housesharing, and if this is the case, it’s important to make sure you and your possessions are safe. At the very least, make sure there’s a lock on the door of your room. Email the letting agent or landlord if anything’s unclear – contact details will be on the property search website.
You can find out about other things to do with safety when you…
Go and check it out!
When you’ve come up with a shortlist of three to six properties you really like, it’s time to do some sleuthing.
This is crucial – don’t rely on photos, emails and phone calls to make your decision. See the room, meet the other residents and visit the local area. Take someone with you – ideally a parent, as they will probably be far more picky and safety conscious than you! If they approve of your choice, you’ve probably made the right decision.
Seeing the property and area in the flesh is a great way to get a feel for the place and whether you like it. Make sure it’s as advertised, and get the answers to any remaining questions.
When you visit the property, think about the following questions:
- Do your housemates seem easy to live with?
- Do you think you’d feel comfortable and safe living with the housemates?
- Is the place well-organised? Is there a rota for cleaning, using the bathroom in the morning, and so on?
- Is the house clean and tidy (particularly the bathroom and kitchen)?
It might seem like a challenge when you only have a few minutes to check everything out and make a good impression at the same time, so make sure you know what information you’re trying to gather. When you leave, "compare notes" with the person you took along.
When you’ve seen the house, have a stroll around the neighbourhood. Make sure you’d feel comfortable and safe living there, find out how long it takes to get to the bus, tram stop, or tube station if you’re using public transport to get to work, and find the local shops.
Making your choice
Once you’ve seen all your shortlisted properties, you should be able to rank them in order of preference. Now it’s time to let the landlord or letting agency know your choice. It’s possible your offer will be declined because the room’s already been taken or the housemates feel you’re not quite the right match. If this happens, apply to your second choice straight away.
Settling in to your new home
I don’t know anyone! How do I make friends?
Don't panic – this is a question everyone asks when they move to a new place.
The chances are you’ll be feeling a bit shy when you move into your new home, but spend some time getting to know your new housemates, since you’ll be living with them for at least the next six months. Even if you don’t want to be best mates, you need to be able to cohabit easily, and feel able to ask questions when you need to.
Try to meet up socially with some of your new work colleagues shortly after you join. You may well end up making good friends with them, and the easier you break the ice, the better. Find out about any work social events you can join to help you meet people in a more relaxed setting.
Check out local clubs, societies and evening classes that you can attend to meet people outside work and home. Look on the local council’s website, and websites like Meetup to find likeminded people.
Dealing with culture shock
OK, so you haven’t moved to the opposite side of the world. But relocating for work has taken you to a completely new place. If you’ve moved from a small town or village to a big city like Birmingham, Manchester or London, you’ll probably be feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Make sure you know your local area, particularly bus routes and road names, in case you get lost. Take a map with you.
Most of all – enjoy yourself and have fun! If you’re in the city, there will be plenty of social, cultural and sports activities you can join in. You’re going to have a great time!
Now you’re clued up on relocating for work, calm those nerves by getting ready for your first day in your new role.
Lead image via Wikimedia.