Written by The Insights Team on 16 Aug 2017
Gurmeet Singh lives in Manchester with his wife and two children. He works In Crawley on a pensions contract during the week and returns home most weekends.
"A few years ago I started contracting, working on PPI cases. It really suited me; I enjoyed the lifestyle and the money’s great. You’re in control of your own workflow, responsible for your own actions, required to think on your feet – that’s one of the really good things about contracting.
I had started looking for areas of work other than PPI and I saw this contract come up, based down in Crawley, doing pensions work. It’s not always easy to find exactly what you want on your doorstep. When I realised that my profile fitted what was demanded, I decided to go for it.
So I moved onto this assignment to gain experience on a pensions project. Sometimes you have to make that break, and if that means moving away then so be it. I think there will always be a market for contractors who have pensions experience, so I view the sacrifice as an investment for the future.
In a few years’ time the bulk of the work won’t be PPI, in my view, so I had to take the chance and make a bold move. As a contractor you have to do that; you can’t just stay in your comfort zone, because the comfort zone won’t be there forever."
"I have 2 young children aged 1 and 4, and being away from them in the week is a difficult thing, but I’m not thinking about the next 6 months, I’m thinking about the next 6 years. And doing this now raises my chances of doing different projects in future. There is some inconvenience now, in the short term, but in five years it will have paid off.
The work is great. It’s really enjoyable, but I haven’t got my comforts, or my friends and family around me. When I get home I really focus on my family: I miss my kids and my wife when I’m away, of course. It’s the day to day, simple things about home life that I miss most: being in my own bed, having my own bathroom... and of course, watching Manchester United play!
The contractor lifestyle is great, but it may not be sustainable for everyone; it is do-able and my advice is to be bold with it as it has benefits.
I have made a plan to get my finance qualifications. Being away from home provides me the opportunity to use the time in the evenings to study so that’s a plus and makes the sacrifice of not being at home worthwhile. If I come out of this contract with the experience and the qualification, then I will be set up to have even greater choice of contracts in future.
For me, it’s been a really worthwhile exercise. I anticipate being able to do this contract for the next 2 years and I believe it will pay off in the end.”
“Some people do Airbnb or a hotel. I went for a spare room, which I found through spareoom.com. I saw a few places and the one I am in seemed quite nice; it’s a quiet house, sharing with a doctor, and it’s good to have my own space away from work.
There is an element of risk and it can be a bit of pot luck as to who you end up sharing with. Here it’s quite stable and if need be I can stay for a long time.”
Top accommodation tips
“I try to get home as often as I can. I have some colleagues who are also from Manchester so we car share and split the cost of the travel. That helps as it can really rack up,” says Gurmeet.
Top travel tips