When your child leaves home, it’s natural to be concerned about their well-being away from the nest. A big part of this, both for your own sanity and for theirs, is finding the right accommodation. These are some things to consider when looking at the options:
Location, location, location
The less they have to travel to get to classes, the greater the chance they’ll actually do it. If they have to catch a train, then a bus, then a taxi, they might never get there. Look for somewhere near to wherever they’re studying, and make sure there is easy access to public transport. Also check how close the accommodation is to other facilities, like shops and entertainment.
To start with, you’ll want to make sure the neighbourhood is fairly safe (as far as possible, of course – there is only so much you can do). Then check what additional security is in place. For example, if they’re staying in a residence, are there access control systems in place so no-one can just wander in off the street? If they’re staying in a private digs, check for basics like burglar bars on the windows and good locks on the doors, with a burglar alarm being an added bonus. Also, are there neighbours around to help out if need be?
Some kind of code of conduct is essential to make sure everyone is able to relax in the space, without others imposing their mess or unruly behaviour on them. Rules like “No loud music after 11pm” and “Everyone is responsible for cleaning up their own mess” should be in place, and preferably written down some place where everyone can see them. The consequences for transgressing these rules should also be clear.
Being exposed to a diverse range of people is part and parcel of your child attending any kind of higher education institution. It’s also best to prepare yourself in advance for the fact that they are likely to experiment with things you might disapprove of. There’s no need to actually put temptation in their way though, so before making a decision on accommodation, visit it in person. Notice how other students are behaving and look for any outward evidence of alcohol or drug abuse.
Safety and security tips
Have a frank conversation with your child about security issues. They’ll probably roll their eyes and say they know all about it, but it’s worth repeating some of these tips:
- Encourage them to share their class schedule with you and/or with some of their friends, so someone always knows where they’re supposed to be at any given time.
- Advise them to stick with a group when travelling after dark – there is usually greater safety in numbers.
- Suggest they get to know their neighbours.
- Tell them not to be afraid of reporting anyone who is loitering or conducting themselves in suspicious ways.
- Remind them to look after any valuables, like cell phones, laptops, wallets and access cards, and to keep them out of sight wherever possible.
- Help them programme emergency numbers into their cell phone.
- Do what you can to make sure they always have airtime, in case they need to call for help.
- Get them to establish where emergency phones or other help might be available if they do find themselves in trouble.
For more information on good accommodation for your child, get in touch with us. Knowing they’re as safe as possible will give you peace of mind as your child spreads their wings.