Thinking of London as a location for your placement? Tegan Dixon is an MMU Ba (Hons) Business Management student currently living the London life, on placement at Europanel. Read on to discover Tegan’s top tips on making the most of London, and all it has to offer!
I’m Tegan, a BA(Hons) Business Management undergraduate and I am currently on my placement year at Europanel in London.
I wanted to write to help those considering sunny London for their placement year, who may be a little unsure on a few things. And I also want to talk to you about my experience applying for placements to hopefully inspire some of you all that it’s not too late at all!
Living in London: Accommodation, travel, and lifestyle
I secured my placement role in the middle of June 2015 (late – I know), and was expected to start on the 6th July. As I’m sure you can appreciate, I had a lot to turn around in a very short space of time, including the move to London, not helped by the fact I was based at home on the Isle of Man! I knew very little about London before moving here, other than it was big, busy, and full of adventure. Now that much is true, but I’ve also seen other sides to it living here that I would want everyone to at least experience once.
To find my accommodation, I scoured and scoured sites called spareroom.com and gumtree.com. On Spare Room you can filter to search for rooms within certain areas, within a certain price range, or even near to a certain line on the Underground.
On Gumtree you can search by area and price. Now, one thing to bear in mind is that rent in London is expensive… but not to the extent where it is unreasonable on your salary. As you’ve probably noticed, the London-based salaries are slightly higher to reflect the cost of living. But believe me when I say the experience is worthwhile. I have also always been fairly good with budgeting, and this year has put those skills to the test in a positive way!
I would strongly recommend brushing up on your budgeting skills, especially once you’re aware of your salary. With rent cost… the further out of the centre you go (with the centre being an area called ‘Zone 1’), the cheaper the rent is, but the more you will pay for travel, and the longer travelling around will take. I live in an area of west London called ‘Ealing’, which is Zone 3. I live with two other girls, from different universities, who are also on placements.
For those looking for shared accommodation whilst they’re here (it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will have to share for it to be financially viable), I would highly recommend setting up a profile on spareroom.com, paying the small fee (I think it’s around £11), and this then allows you to speak to people who are also looking to share. One of my current flat mates approached me on this site, I then found the third flat mate also on this site, and we went on to look for 3 bed places to rent together. The other options for sharing often involve moving in with current tenants in a vacant room, which is also great and I know many people that have also done this.
As for areas to live, I initially filtered to accommodation on the Central Line of the Underground (as this is where my office sits), paying little attention to where the area actually is. This was probably not the best method, because if you’re using the Underground to travel to work, it is usually fairly easy to map a route where you switch Underground lines. So the next step I took was to focus mostly on the rent price, and if within my budget I would then research the area, and how best to travel to work from there. One top tip I would say is not to forget about London buses! There is an app available called CityMapper which, to this day, is a lifesaver for getting me from A to B. If you’re interested in a place to rent and want to investigate the journey to work/elsewhere – use this app! Each area of London has a personality of its own… with a bit of research you could perhaps also factor in places that reflect your own personality and interests into your search.
Now… travel in London. I’ve already mentioned the Underground and buses, as these are the primary ways of getting around. These services operate using the Oyster card system (or also now contactless bank card). Oyster offer a student card with discounted costs, which you can apply for through the Placement Office at university. I did this, and with it can buy travel cards (e.g. weekly, monthly and annually) at a discounted rate. Most people pay for their Oyster travel on a monthly basis. You pay for this by Zones, so if you live in Zone 3 and work in Zone 1… you will need a Zone 1-3 travel card, which is approximately (at the student rate) £100 per month. Another option, which is what I use as I live and work in the same Zone and get the bus to work, is pay as you go. With this option, you top up your Oyster as and when you want, and the credit just gets deducted (you can use this for buses and Underground). To get reduced rates for this type of travel, you can link your Oyster card to your railcard, if you have one. Getting about London after hours may soon be a lot easier, with the introduction of the Night Tube scheduled for later this year, but in the meantime, the way home after 12.30am is a night bus or an Uber!
The London lifestyle is one like no other. There is, quite literally, always something to do, somewhere new to be explored, or some secret thing to stumble upon. You can use your evenings, holidays, and weekends, however suits you in this city; there is something for everyone. I’m personally a big fan of visiting London’s many markets and sampling the endless cuisines, and strolling through the many parks across London on a sunny day. There are an infinite number of places to go and things to see, whether touristy or a local treasure. The nightlife is also brilliant; I’ve had some amazing nights so far whilst I’ve been here! And the one thing which quite literally cannot be faulted is the shopping.
Good luck in your placement search – and please consider London for an amazing sandwich year!