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Lives of Doctor Wives: Relocating for residency

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Relocating for residency

Us families of MSIV's will soon be in the situation of relocating for residencies with MATCH days quickly approaching after the new year. For all of you who have passed this stage in your medical journey I'd love to hear some advice regarding the process- from deciding to buy a home, getting a realtor, choosing a housing budget, when to move, how to move, etc. What you did that helped, or what you wish you would have done differently. Also for those of you who did buy homes going into residency, what lender would you recommend? There are a lot of sites out there that offer physician home loans deals- but most are online and not bank oriented. Any and all advice/comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Kim


Blogger LittleMissDreamer said...

I'm one of those ladies who will probably be relocating and the stress is beginning to freak me out. I would love to hear advice from others who have gone through this.

November 19, 2009 at 8:26 PM  
Anonymous A.F. said...

Everyone is different, so the following isn't advice, just my personal experience, for what it's worth.

What I am glad we did:

We moved as soon as we could after med school was over. This gave us a couple of weeks to unpack and even take a romantic weekend trip before internship began. It was fabulous to have DH's help and support for those first few days in a new place.

What I regret:

Putting status of program above desirability of location. We ended up in cities that really challenged me during an already difficult time. I didn't realize how important familiarity and social support would become, or how much my career would suffer after two cross-country moves.

Can't speak to buying a home, but good luck! I hear it's a buyer's market. :)

November 19, 2009 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

We also moved as soon as we could which gave us a few weeks to get settled. We moved into an apartment for the first year, which was great because when hubby came home from work he didn't have to worry about taking care of any home issues. The downside was he chose an apartment based on an online search and a quick visit when interviewing so the location was further away from the hospital than was ideal. So proximity to the hospital is key - no one wants to be on call and having to drive 30+ min back and forth multiple times each night.
We have since bought a house close to the hospital which we were encouraged to do at the time (buyers market) but now we're not sure how long we'll have to wait for it to sell when it comes time to move. So be cautious about buying, especially if you're not planning on staying in the area past residency. But then again, maybe the economy will turn around by then, right? :)

November 20, 2009 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Cheri said...

My husband and I ALSO moved as soon as med school was over because it is nice to be able to unpack and get to know the place you are now living. We also went on a cruise before his internship because we knew it would be one of the few times we could actually spend time together during the next while (especially since we did not know when he was getting time off and most likely it would no coincide with my schedule).
We chose program over place too but actually got placed in the "place" and I am SO glad!!!! It really really matters where you live for MANY reasons! You need to have things to do, access to a social group, shopping, and if needed a job market for your profession. A LOT of doctors and their wives who chose to rank a place in what I call the boon-docs and got placed there told me they were frequently bored and even got frustrated with the small community. I guess in the end, it is all about what fits you and your family. For us, we like big city and plenty to do but we live in the suburbs. ANOTHER thing to consider that we DID NOT is COST OF LIVING!!!! We have to live in an apt (1 bed with a den) and pay MORE than my father does for his 5 bedroom mortgage payment! REMEMBER all residents get paid about the same but not all places cost the same to live.

My husband is an ER resident and he was matched in a inner city setting. He initally thought this meant it was a bad program but if finding out he is seeing a lot of cases and many things the suburbs do not supply. He is also having to deal without in terms of the latest and greatest which will be good in the future.

November 20, 2009 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Melisa said...

I wish we had gotten to our new town sooner so we could feel settled before Brad was working like crazy.

I wish we had rented instead of buying. While homes may be a great deal right now, so are rentals. There was too much upkeep and repairs that sucked up Brad's already limited time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my house, but the stress doesn't seem worth it.

For us, location was critical for us, especially since we have kids. We wanted a quick commute and safe neighborhood. Sometimes it isn't possible to have both.

November 20, 2009 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Doc's Girl said...

I agree with Melisa. I think that, perhaps, just to be on the safe side, I would rent for the first year or two, depending on the length of the program. We are planning on renting when Jason is completely done...just in case the practice that he is with doesn't work out. In the case of residency, changes can happen out of nowhere and I think renting is a much better option, too, because you don't have to rush into buying a home. You can get situated and then look in a more peaceful manner once you are there and, possibly, find a great deal on a home.

PLEASE buy yourself a GPS. Although I was not in Jason's life when he moved here for residency, I bought him a GPS for Valentine's Day after we started dating 3 years ago. This GPS was worth its weight in GOLD when we went to Minnesota (for an out of state rotation for four months) and when Jason went for interviews for fellowship, etc.

Jason took a loan out before he moved and he felt that this was so important because it allowed him to get comfortable. He was able to buy comfortable furniture and have some extra spending money while getting situated in a new state where he didn't know anyone.

I really encourage others to live close to the hospital that they are at. Jason's commute was very short at the apartment we were at before we moved...and our condo now is off of major freeways that allows him to get to all of the hospitals he needs to go to quickly. When they are doing trauma rotations, I can't tell you how nice it is that he had a 10 minute drive home after being up for 36 hours.

I also agree with AF that you have to take into consideration your own emotions. I know our four month out of state rotation in Minnesota was absolutely miserable for us...because we were so far away from our home, our friends, our community. As much as a program might sound wonderful, it is not worth putting emotional stress on yourself, your relationship, and your children. The truth of matter is that the first few years of residency are so rough...and you need a sense of community and family to get through it because, more than likely, your partner will be fast asleep on the bathroom floor. :-D

I know that we are definitely taking all of these factors into consideration for Jason's future job...and, with both of my parents being gone, I realize the importance of family. I've already stressed the importance of being close to them...because, not only do we benefit...but so do our future children. :)

Hope this helps!

November 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

I echo the advice that you should live as close as possible to the hospital. A few more minutes of sleep means a world of a difference when your spouse is sleep deprived and needs to commute to work.

I also strongly encourage renting if you aren't familiar with the place you are moving to. You can learn about the area and have peace of mind when you do decide to buy (if you can afford it). Also, you may realize once you get there that you can't truly afford to buy. Having a few months to figure out expenses in a new town without the pressure of a new house seems wise to me. (Full disclosure- I'm biased because we rent).

I definitely echo the suggestion to take a big loan out for relocation- more than you want to. We took out too little and ended up borrowing from my grandmother. It's not an ideal situation to be in. We regret not taking out a bigger loan. We were not foolish with our money whatsoever, but a ton of stuff popped up that we didn't anticipate. If for some reason you have too much money left over from the loan, you can pay that portion back.

Best of luck to those getting ready for the move! It's a very exciting time for you :)

Oh, and lastly, try and find the fun in this time. Yes, it's stressful, but it can also be so much fun to explore a new home and make it your own. Might as well make the best of it!

November 20, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Click on the "Survivor Saturdays" labels on the sidebar - we've addressed all these topics pretty thoroughly in the past.

It's a very exciting time! Soak it all in and enjoy it - even when it's really hard.

November 20, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Tif said...

We moved immediately after completion of rotations, even before graduation. It left us displaced for a while because we were unable to get into our new house right away. We were planning on doing a little traveling anyways. I still do not regret doing this because it saved us a ton of money in the long run, but it was hard not sleeping in your own bed for 45 days!!

We bought our home using Physician Loans and despite a few kinks with the timing on their part, we have not had a bad experience and it is so nice to have our own home! We were not as familiar with our new city, but friends in the area gave us some pointers and our realtor was amazing (he did not work on commission and was very honest!). I've written a little something about our experiences on our blog. Feel free to check it out . . . http://ourmedicallives.blogspot.com/2009/04/buying-home.html . . . You have actually reminded me to do a follow-up that I mentioned in there!!

All in all, in my opinion, it really depends on your situation if you should buy or not. If your residency will only be 3 years or less, I don't know if I would recommend buying. It is currently a buyer's market, but you do have to think about possible re-sale in the future if you do not intend to stay or if you do not know if you will be staying.

Good luck!!

November 21, 2009 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Timani said...

I'll only add in regards to buying, do worry about resale. My husband is in a program that he's soooo happy with and he really likes the city. Yet, I'm stuck hours and hours away with our kids waiting for the house to sell. (Residency doesn't pay well enough for 2 mortgages!) It's been 6 months now and I had never ever considered that I might not move with him until the month before he started.

November 25, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

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