Last updated: 4 October 2023
Next review: 4 October 2024
Many young people will keep living with their foster carer until they’re 18, however some 16 to 18 year olds may feel they’re ready for more independence. If you feel this could be you, you may want to think about moving to a place where you have more responsibilities, but still have support when required. This is known as ‘semi-independent living’ and there are a few different options that could work for you here.
Any move to semi independent accommodation will only happen after discussions between you and your social worker, who will want to make sure that you’re ready to live on your own.
This is a shared house where you have your own bedroom and bathroom, but maybe a share a kitchen. There are staff on site to help provide support as required. You would also have access to a keyworker who would meet with you regularly and help with any support needs you might have.
This is when you live somewhere similar to a foster carer’s house, where you have a higher level of adult support. If you’re living in this accommodation, we’ll offer you a basic level of financial support and practical assistance.
Preparing to choose your own place
Your leaving care coach will explore with you the options for different accommodation. They’ll talk to you about the areas where you want to live when you’re 18 or 19. You might decide to stay where you are a little longer, and you can talk to your leaving care coach about this option too.
When you move out of care to rent your own place, you become a tenant of your new property. This means you’re renting the property from the landlord.
If you choose a tenancy of your own, your leaving care coach with discuss with you your rights and responsibilities and the things you’ll need to do to prepare for choosing your own place.
It’ll be important to think about the different items you’ll need to buy. What will you need for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, for example?
Many people, when they get their first home, can’t afford to buy everything new all at once. You can get many useful bits of furniture and even electrical items from charity shops, just to get you started. When you’ve got a bit more money later on, you can always replace them with better ones.
If you still want to buy something new, think about where you can get it cheapest. Supermarkets often do their own brand of items such as kettles and microwaves and they’re often much cheaper than the big-name brands.
Your leaving care coach will help you review your tenancy agreement. It’s important you read this carefully, and make sure that you ask them to explain anything in the agreement that you don’t understand.
Buying and cooking food
It’s good to have a few basic meals in your mind before you move out so that you can start to cook for yourself.
It’s a good idea to make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket. Set a total budget for how much you want to spend on food and list the items of food and drink that you’ll need for the week.
It’s important that you’re aware of what types of food you eat and how good they are for you. It’s best to avoid ready meals because they’re usually more expensive than cooking it yourself, and they are often high in salt, sugar and other preservatives.
If you need some extra support around buying and cooking food you can always speak to your leaving care coach.
Cleaning your place
It’s important to keep your place looking and feeling clean. A clean and tidy flat will also make you feel good and supports your emotional health.
Avoid buying branded cleaning products as these are expensive. The cleaning products that are a supermarket’s own brand are cheaper and do the same job.
You can get into a routine of cleaning and tidying your place at the same time each day or week, which will help you to keep on top of it. If you do a little bit often it doesn’t pile up.
If you need some extra support around keeping your place clean and tidy you can always speak to your leaving care coach.
Getting ready for budgeting
Whether you’ve managed to get a job, or are in the process of finding one, it’s still really important to budget - no matter how much money you have. It’s important you know how much money you have each week and what you need to spend that money on.
You need to think about how much income you have weekly and monthly, such as:
- Housing Benefit
- other income
Then think about what you can afford to spend on each of the following:
- TV licence/ rental
- Council Tax
- water bill
- cleaning materials
- credit or loans
The golden rule for budgeting is to never spend more than you have coming in. If you do, you could get into debt which will get worse each month until you’ve paid off what you owe.
If you need some extra support around budgeting you can always speak to your leaving care coach.
What to do if things go wrong in your tenancy
If you, or someone visiting you, become seriously ill or injured, you need to call the emergency services on 999. Only call this number if the illness or injury is life threatening.
If the illness or injury isn’t life threatening, consider making an appointment at your local GP surgery or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
When things break
When something in your property breaks, don't just leave it. If it’s an appliance, don't try to fix it yourself because this might be dangerous and you may do more damage.
You must speak to your landlord or housing provider about what you’ve broken. If it was your fault, you’ll need to pay to get it fixed or this will come out of your deposit when you move out.
Your landlord may have a specific tradesperson or organisation that they use for repairs, or they may be able to recommend someone. If not, ask people you know and trust to suggest a qualified person to carry out the repairs.
If something goes wrong due to normal wear and tear, and it’s not your fault, contact your landlord. They have a responsibility to fix (and pay for) the property itself and items included in the tenancy agreement, if things go wrong due to wear and tear.
If you don't know how to approach this issue with your landlord, your leaving care coach will advise you.