A Hallam Insider’s experience with accommodation whilst on placement

Chandni in Amsterdam


Hi my name is Chandni and last year I did a placement year in industry. I did 3 placements in 3 countries so I will share a few of my very different experiences!




IKEA Sheffield

This was a 3 week placement in the summer that I arranged during the time I still had my accommodation from 2nd year. I was staying in student halls and my contract didn’t finish until the end of July. University courses tend to round up in May and tenancies usually finish at the end of June or July so it is worth while thinking about whether you can fit a local one in before you leave.

I wasn’t paid at this placement so this was definitely a more feasible option. I was offered one at the Nottingham IKEA but I had to turn it down as it was for 6 months in the summer unpaid. This was not affordable as my student maintenance loan wouldn’t have covered it so I approached the Sheffield branch instead.


Barcelona Balcony Barcelona Families Niece and I Barcelona Kitchen Barcelona Living Room Barcelona Room View 1

I was supposed to do a placement for 9 months from October until July and this journey was the rockiest of them all. Unfortunately, I was scammed in search for my accommodation on a site called Pisocompartido even though the site was recommended by my placement provider. You can put your details up and opt to be approached by landlords or people with a spare room. I had no success on the page and then was contacted by someone who ended up lying about an apartment and I lost £1000. Do not transfer your money through Moneygram, as once the recipient receives the money on the other end it cannot be recovered.

If you can’t find accommodation before you go out there, book an Air BnB or a hotel and scope out the housing when you get there. This is definitely worth while doing, and avoids getting scammed which happens extremely often. I was told to do this and I should have listened, you never think it will be you that it happens to!

I then posted on Facebook to see if anyone had family friends who knew someone renting a room. Luckily someone did so I stayed with a nice Catalan family in a spare room:


  • I paid cash in hand every month and it was quite informal, but that also comes with a risk as we didn’t have a formal contract
  • The lack of a contract ended up being a benefit in the end as I left this placement early as it was not suitable, so I didn’t lose any further money for prepaid rent
  • I got to try lots of local food and was often invited to dinners and they would take me out on day trips and showed me around the local area
  • There was usually people around the house in the morning and evening, this could be a pro or con
  • They also kindly introduced me to their niece who was my age
  • I was introduced to their local gym so I got a good deal and I made a friend there


  • It never really felt like my own space as you are living in someone else’s home
  • I felt like I had to ask permission to have people over
  • There wasn’t really space to have people over if I wanted to unless the family was out
  • No contract also made it difficult for me to apply for a Spanish foreign identity number which allows you to get a part time job
  • It was quite hard to meet new people
  • The accommodation was in El Prat which was an hour away from Barcelona on the tube which wasn’t a very nice commute everyday


Chandni in Amsterdam Amsterdam Outdoor Seating Amsterdam Living Space Amsterdam Kitchen

This was by far the best experience I had and I made sure this time that the placement company helped me find the accommodation and gave me more support after my last experience. Luckily they had a colleague who was moving out of their house share and I moved into their old room. The colleague read through the housing agreement for me as it was all in dutch and I sent it to my dad’s dutch friend to approve. It ended up being a shared house with other expats:


  • I lived with a Belgian girl, Venezuelan girl and a Dutch guy. They were all really friendly, we were all in the same boat living abroad and experiencing a new culture so we could bond over that and our different experiences; like how it felt flying home, being away and adjusting to a new culture
  • They became automatic friends/you met people straight away
  • We shared the costs of things like pots, pans and lamps; we could make the space our own and more homely


  • Amsterdam Room Stage 2The room was unfurnished which is very common, I had to order a bed before I left the UK, it didn’t arrive until my 4th day there as the placement was quite last minute. I made sure I took a sleeping bag and luckily my housemate had an airbed. Make sure if you order a bed from IKEA that it also included bed slats! They are sold separately as I found out the hard way!
  • This accommodation was in Almere, a town about an hour commute from Amsterdam. The rent was 500 euros which was more affordable that in Amsterdam centre which was 800+ euros. The commute had its pros and cons. It was tiring: I had to take a bus, train and boat! But the boat was pretty cool; it was nice having fresh air in the morning and I could nap on the train. The Netherlands is well connected and my company gave me a transport card so I didn’t have to pay for travel. Make sure you ask the company for as much support as possible.

Top Tips Summary 

  • Ask around for friends and family if they know anyone who lives in that place
  • Get as much support as you can from your placement provider
  • House shares can be really fun and you could end up staying with people in a similar position, you can personalise the space more and you meet people straight away
  • If you can’t find somewhere before you get there stay in an Air BNB or hotel and look when you’re out there
  • Think about your commute carefully and weigh up if it is worth it

Written by Chandni Soren