With graduation in the past, it is so funny to look back on the past four years to see how each year of medical school differed in terms of its stressors. First and second year was riddled with class exams and the almighty Step 1/Level 1 board exam. Third-year consisted of impressing preceptors, attendings, and residents, and making sure you did well on shelf exams while finding out what specialty you’d be in for the rest of your life. Exams in fourth-year were nonexistent after Step 2/Level 2 but consisted of applying for residency, audition/away rotations, residency interviews, and last but not least, THE MATCH. Now that all of that is behind me, I’ve come to realize that the stress doesn’t necessarily die down. For some of us, the next step is the big move–the one where you potentially leave behind family, friends, significant others, and embark on your residency journey in a new place. So how did I make the big move in one (almost) swift go? Below are some tips that tell you just that!
- Contact current residents and your program coordinator: Oftentimes, the program coordinator will have a list of areas, apartments, etc. handy for incoming interns as well as suggestions as to where current residents live. Residents are your best resources because they have firsthand experience in commuting to and from the hospital and knowing the best locations to be close to fun activities. After talking to residents and Michigan residents, it was clear which city I should live in!
- Consider your priorities:
- Commute time to your hospital and/or commute times to all hospitals during your residency
- Cost of living (ex: living in a more rural area with cheaper rent vs. in a city with high rent)
- Activities you may want to do in your spare time
- Renting vs. buying (definitely ask residents about this), oftentimes people will buy but if you are unsure whether to bite the bullet, consider renting out an apartment the first year and buying the second once you are more familiar with the area
- Maximum rent you want to pay plus utilities
- Noise level for when you are working nights and have to sleep during the day
- Opportunities in the surrounding areas to socialize with residents
- If you are an out of town-er, consider visiting your residency city soon after you match: From personal experience and research, apartments tend to become available starting May-July every year. Even if there aren’t available rentals, try to visit the city early so that you can view apartments that you are interested in and once the apartments become available, you will have a jump start to signing a lease.
- Use sites such as Zillow, Apartments.com, and Apartment Finder, and even Google’s apartment review site: Once I found the city that I wanted to live in, these websites were super helpful in gathering information about different rentals.
- Make a list of 5-10 places you want to see during your visit to your residency city: Of course, the more the merrier but definitely plan on seeing many places to get the most out of your visit. When I visited Detroit, I was able to schedule eight places back-to-back during my two-day stay.
- Consider downsizing personal items and purchasing quality functional items: After living in a very large inexpensive 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in rural West Virginia, I had to downsize to a much smaller 1 bedroom 1 bath apartment in the Detroit area. At first, I was nervous that I wouldn’t have enough room for all of my belongings, but I decided to challenge myself to donate and rid myself of things that I didn’t need. Much of the furniture I previously purchased for medical school was inexpensive and low quality so I decided that during my five-year residency, I would purchase high quality, pieces of furniture that would last me a long time and that was multi-functional (i.e. a coffee table that also doubled as my desk). This can be very fun if you are into decorating!
I hope these tips were helpful! I was able to move everything in just two days this past week with little-to-no stress. Happy moving!