1. Accommodation

Thinking about moving out and living independently can make you feel stressed, but finding accommodation for when you leave care at 18 is something we will support you with. We want to make sure that you find somewhere that works for you and where you can feel safe.

We will start planning your accommodation once you are 16, and you can have a say in where you would like to go, what you can afford and what type of accommodation you would like.

However we might not always be able to provide the type of accommodation that you would like, based on what is available. If this happens we would explain why we cannot give you what you would like.

If you are at college or university you are also entitled to help with the cost of accommodation.

Once you are 18 and have moved out into your new home, your social worker and PA will come to visit you, which will be agreed beforehand in your Pathway Plan.

2. What are my options?

1. Staying with your foster carers

If you are living with your foster carers and are either in education, training or working, you might have the option to stay where you are until you are 21.

Your foster carers will continue to help you, but it is a bit more like being a lodger and you will need to pay them rent, as well as contribute to your meals and general upkeep. The Leaving Care Service will help you to sort this out. During this time your foster carers will teach you the skills you will need to live independently.  View the Staying put information leaflet.

Top tip: Go food shopping with your foster carers to learn how much it costs, what kinds of things to buy and how to get value for your money.

2. Independent living

This could either be a council or housing association flat, or accommodation rented from a private landlord. However, it's quite difficult for someone aged 18 or 19 to be offered a council/housing association flat, so it's more likely you will end up renting from a private landlord.

Depending on what suits you best, you can usually find either your own space in a shared house or a self-contained flat. Sometimes groups of friends can rent a house together, which can cut costs down.

If you decide to live independently you will be fully responsible for paying the rent, as well as council tax, the water, gas, broadband and electricity bills, and TV license. It's important to keep on top of bill payments, so speak to your PA if you need any help organising your money. Sites such as uSwitch are useful for finding the best deals on everything from mobile phones to broadband.

You could also find that you are suddenly responsible for doing your own washing, cleaning your house, shopping and cooking your food. There are lots of online resources to help you out if you are not sure about anything, including some great videos on YouTube. You can also ask your PA if you have any questions.

If you are not working once you are 18 you might be able to claim benefits. This can cover the cost of accommodation and some of your council tax.

Top tip: Make sure you keep all important documents, such as your tenancy agreement, ID, bills, P45, P60 and bank account information safe. If you have to throw away anything with your personal details on, make sure you shred it first.
Top tip: Find out whether you can set up a direct debit with your bank to pay some of your bills. This means you don't have to remember to do it every month, but just make sure you have enough money in your account!


3. Student accommodation

If you have decided to go to university, you can get help in choosing where best to find accommodation. If your university is close enough to where you are already, you don't need to move and can travel in either by bus or train, or you could drive if you decide to learn. If you do need to move in order to make attending lectures easier, one option is to move into the halls of residence or other student accommodation, which can be cost effective and will help you to get to know other students.

Take a look at our independent living section for some advice and useful links on living on your own.

If you decide to study at university, you may be able to get help with your accommodation costs.

4. Returning home

You may decide to move back in with your birth family or friends.

If this is something you would like to do, speak to your social worker or PA who will be able to talk through the best choice for you.

5. How can the Leaving Care Service help?

You can receive some financial support from us when setting up your new home. Please speak to your Personal Adviser about this.