This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Stories: Your first post-training house

Monday, July 15, 2013

Survivor Stories: Your first post-training house

by Jennifer, Survivor in Pediatric Ophthalomology

You’ve pinched a penny within an inch of its life. You’ve clipped coupons. You’ve scrimped, sacrificed, and waited patiently. You’ve lived in cramped quarters, pinning ideas and filing away dreams for Someday. Finally your Dr. H has completed his training, and you’re ready to find your perfect house.

Whoa, Nelly. Don’t burst out of that starting gate quite yet. Let’s talk about your options.

Here’s our experience:
We completed training nine years ago and joined a private practice in an urban area. Armed with a file folder of ideas, we bought a custom house in a suburban master-planned community twenty minutes from his office. “Custom” in this instance means we chose a builder from a list of four that built homes in this neighborhood, then chose a house plan (which dozens of other homeowners also chose), then we went to a design center to select all the flooring, cabinetry, countertops, and upgrades—from a very short list. We ended up with a beautiful home in a great neighborhood with top-notch public schools.

During the next few years, we got to know the area, the neighborhoods, and the schools. We lived in our home and figured out what worked and what didn’t. We bought 2.5 acres and started paying it down. In the meantime, we went to an architect with a piece of scratch paper and a rough floorplan. He drew it out on his computer, made a few tweaks to optimize, and handed it back to us. Then we interviewed several custom builders, got their estimates, and picked one.

(Then the story gets really hairy...the city council wouldn’t approve our plans...economy tanked...builder went out of business...land developer took six months to build a freakin’ driveway...scrambled for a new builder...sold our house in one day...ended up in a poorly insulated rental home...I ran screaming for the hills…)

Finally (FINALLY), six years after starting his new job, we moved into our Forever Home. We like to say, “they’re going to wheel us out of this house.” The next time I move (according to my plans), it will be to the old folks’ home or the morgue. Either way, I don’t have to pack.

Your experience could be similar to mine or completely different, but whatever you decide, I would gently encourage you to NOT jump into your Forever House right away. I know it’s been a long time coming and you’re ready for more comfortable living space, but be patient. There are several reasons to wait.

  1. Your Dr. H will very likely see a big increase in income after a few years. If you can hold on a little bit longer, you will be able to afford a little bit more.
  2. If you are moving to a new area, you will want to live there for a little while before you commit to a neighborhood and a house. Getting involved in your community for a few years will teach you a lot about the people and the schools. There’s no way you can know everything you want to know by internet research alone.
  3. You need a few years in an interim house to know what you really like and what you can do without. Our Forever House has many of the features of our first house—with improvements. For example, our first house had a great 9-foot island in the kitchen that was perfect for hosting big parties and gatherings. But there was only 3-4 feet between the island and the counters, which during big parties with lots of people made navigating the kitchen pretty difficult. So when we drew up plans for our Forever House, we kept the island and made sure we had 5 feet of space between the island and the counters. We made several adjustments like that when we were designing our home.
  4. As much as we hate to think about it, the likelihood that your Dr. H will change practices after a few years is frighteningly high. It happens. You don’t want to invest in a really nice house and then have to sell it quickly.

If you can rent a home in an area you think you want to stay in—even better. Yes, you will have to move again, and if you’ve been married during medical school and training, the thought of packing and moving will curl your hair. But it will be worth the extra effort to be exactly where you want to be in the house that fits you best. (A good friend of ours even convinced his department to pay for their moving costs from their interim house to their big house. It’s possible!)

A doctor-in-training’s wife has delayed gratification down. We’ve made it an art form. We know how to wait, and we believe waiting will pay off. It seems grossly unfair to have to wait any longer, but trust me: it’s worth it.

What is your dream? And Survivors, please share your experiences, good and bad. What would you do the same? Differently?

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Lindsey said...

Jennifer, I love your writing and sense of humor! You are such a kindred spirit. My dad is a Peds Ophtho and my husband is in a retina fellowship, so I feel a bit of an eyeball bond with you as well. I totally agree with the renting advice. We are on our 8th year of renting, meanwhile our peers are upgrading from their starter houses to fancier 4+ bedrooms.. That being said, we LOVE having our landlord/ now apartment building fix our broken fridge, stove, etc. I will confess, I do surf on Trulia and imagine what our beautiful house will look like one day! (guessing sometime in 2018!)

July 20, 2013 at 8:23 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home