Part I: Housing
Congratulations, you’ve matched! Now what? During the next few months, we’re featuring the transition to residency with three articles: Housing, Finances, and Professional.
We sat down with Gregory Tanquary, DO, an emergency medicine resident at Ohio Health Doctors Hospital, to get his perspective on some topics to consider as you transition into residency.
Finding housing in your new place called home can be exciting and stressful. You need to figure out what type of housing is best for you: apartment, house, condo, studio, etc. I can’t speak for all residencies, but our program has a close relationship with a real estate agent who gets great reviews from my fellow residents. I’m not sure if other residencies offer this, but if so I would utilize it. They know the area better than you will, and they understand your financial constraints. I would try and live somewhere relatively close the hospital. You will be there a lot in residency, so a long commute can really add up after several months and years of going to the hospital. You may spend time at several different hospitals in the city, so consider a centralized location, as well. That being said, try to find an area you enjoy. No need to reinvent the wheel - ask your fellow residents where they are staying. When you’re away from the hospital, it is important to recover and enjoy life outside of work. This will prevent burnout and keep you energized. We all hit a point when it becomes a grind. Make sure to live in an area that provides you an escape to stay fresh.
Rent or Buy?
This is the question everyone asks. It comes down to personal preference and financial situation. Certainly building equity and investing in real estate can be a good thing. Renting stinks in that you have no return on your money, but sometimes that is the only option.
I won't go into an economic spiel about the housing crisis and how we could be on the brink of another bubble. However, understand that a mortgage is another huge debt, possibly bigger than your current student loan. If you have a family, it may be a worthwhile investment. It is also important to ask yourself if you plan to stay in the area after residency. If so, buying may make more sense.
There is financial flexibility if buying is right for you. There are “physician loans” most residents will qualify for requiring no down payment, but in return you pay higher interest rates.
Finding a new house – whether you’re renting or buying – can be very difficult if you are moving a long way (my situation). Try to visit your new home to look for housing more than once, or have a trusted friend send video. My wife and I had one weekend to find a place to live due to distance and lack of time my 4th year spring. It was stressful and placed pressure on us to find a place quickly. So if possible, get out there a few times. Ask residents about good neighborhoods. They’ll point you in the right direction.
The White Coat Investor has a nice write-up about physician loans, and The New York Times put together a nice risk/benefit analysis for renting v. buying. The calculator assumes the money saved by renting is being invested but is nonetheless a good read and a fun tool to tinker with.