Renting during residency

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Renting during residency

Post by IMRTguy » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:57 pm

Hi Bogleheads,

I guess this post is more of a vent than anything else, but I was wondering how current and past resident physicians deal with renting in VHCOL areas? I am in the beginning of my 4th year (PGY-4) of a 5 year program, my take home pay annually (after federal and state taxes) is $44k and my current rent is $1,975 my lease expires in 2 months and the proposed rent is $2050 (before water, gas, electric, sewer). My rent on an annual basis is 56% of my take home pay. I just don't find this acceptable...

I do not have any moonlighting opportunities available to me in my specialty. My only options are to continue renting and just tough it out for the final ~2 years of residency, or considering renting a room in a house that has 3-4 bedrooms in it for ~800-1000. I do value peace and quiet at home and I do have to study as I have board exams coming up in the next year. I don't know if the potential savings is worth the potential complications and loss of privacy. Thankfully I do not have any other financial obligations (no CC debt, no student loans, no car debt), I just find it demoralizing that I work and study continually and it all goes to rent.

What have previous resident physicians done in the past?

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by Bmac » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:34 pm

Definitely tough it out, don't buy. Too short a timeframe to consider buying. However, I would strongly consider the room in a house if you can find semi-compatible roommates in order to cut costs if that is your main concern. At least when I was doing surgery residency over 20 years ago, I was so tired and sleep deprived that having a quiet place to myself was totally unnecessary. I could easily sleep standing up in a crowded bar . . .

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by gasdoc » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:47 pm

I rented the upstairs flat of a house that had an elderly retired lady downstairs. She appreciated the occasional company and I appreciated a quiet place with some room to stretch out. It worked out surprisingly well.


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Re: Renting during residency

Post by Kencufc » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:10 pm

I valued my peace and quiet in med School as well as residency. I bought a house in residency. Buying turned out to be not such a great idea. For now, surely your living expenses are high. However, you're golden going forward. No student debt...who cares what it costs to rent an apartment!!! Do what it takes to get through residency, pass your boards, soak up as much knowledge in residency as you possibly can. After you get your first attending paycheck, you will laugh about the time you thought your rent was too much.

Reminds me of that guy who ran for president some years back..."The rent is too damn high!"

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by The529guy » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:20 pm

Share a place with other residents who will be equally uninterested in life outside work/study?

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by BrianMc » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:08 pm

I'm going to give you some tough love, so don't take it personally.

Yes, what you posted is a vent. You have zero student loans and I can only assume you weren't forced into this residency. Your two housing choices both seem unfavorable to you, so let's put some things into perspective... At the end of the day, you'll have food and shelter, which is more than some in this world have. You've been blessed with brains few can only dream of. In five years you'll likely be earning more than 99% of the people in the U.S.

In fairness, you're sacrificing greatly now and there's a lot to be said about that. While many your age are out having a great time every night, you're working crazy hours and studying. Keep your eyes on the prize and in a few years all of this will have been worth it...and you'll be able to live in whatever you'd like.

Now get back to work and make someone's life better! :D

Best wishes.


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Re: Renting during residency

Post by mega317 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:22 am

Interesting and relateable post for me. My last 2 years of residency in LA the rent was exactly $2050. The only reason I accepted it was by living with my then-girlfriend, also a resident. I don't remember the take-home pay but back of the envelope tells me I think it was about the the same as you for each of us, inflation adjusted. Before moving in together we both lived in much less desirable neighborhoods. I would not have tolerated living with anyone besides her--my sleep was way too precious. Even respectful quiet roommates are not going to be silent all day when you're post-call.

I can't think of many 5 year residencies after which the salary isn't great. You're not in primary care. I would probably be comfortable saving next to nothing for 2 years, then continuing to live at your current expenses while you pile up cash after you finish. Don't change your spending at all. Try not to feel demoralized--you're playing the long game. And you have no debt! Just enjoy what your city and neighborhood have to offer.

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by Finance-MD » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:41 am

As others have said. Your debt free and cash flow positive. You're fine.

I'd however expect you can find a cheaper option if you hunt for it. This may not be worth your time though.

As gasdoc mentioned, you could look for a garage apartment or something like that - something privately owned - where you can maybe get a better rate. If they know you're a surgery resident and will be working all the time and making no noise, you may be able to negotiate better rent. It's much harder to bargain with the commercial rental apartments.

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by Watty » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:34 am

I'm not a doctor but here are a few comments.

1) No training program has a 100% completion rate. If you are in a good living situation now then the risk of getting into a less than ideal situation is not worth even a miniscule increase in the risk that you will not complete the program.

2) If you could move and reduce your commute by 20 minutes then it thing might be worthwhile even if you have to pay a lot more for a closer apartment. There may even be apartments within walking distance that you should look at.

3) I have not seen any mention of the hassle and cost of moving. In addition to the amount of time this takes it may conflict with your schedule. If you move yourself then screwing up your back for a month could cause all sorts of problems with your training.

4) If you move you then not only need to find a good place but you also need to find good neighbors. Even good neighbors may make more noise than you are used to and that can be a problem if you need to sleep during the day.

5) Look forward a few years to when you are done and ready to move. If that will be in 20 months and you end up having leases that end in 24 months that could leave you with 4 months at the end of the lease that you will still have to pay for. Your current landlord may be willing to give you a 20 month lease if you have been a good tenant.

6) Moving gives Murphy's Law a chance to cause problems.
Last edited by Watty on Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by SleepKing » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:39 am

Stay put and keep renting. Not worth the few thousands of savings compared to stress and uncertainty of a new place. Especially with board preparation looming. Do not buy. Your financial situation will change again as you begin searching for your first job.


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Re: Renting during residency

Post by Inframan4712 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:21 am

Former resident here, but I was in your shoes with a wife and kids. And massive student debt. And it sucked. Stressful as heck.

4 years post-residency I am student loan free, but I lived reasonably in order to accomplish that.

Tough it out. You're almost there, believe it or not. Keep your eye on the prize. Don't change or do anything to impact your chances of finishing.

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by xrvision » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:38 am

This was me for 2/6 years of post-graduate training. Here's how I survived for those two years in a HCOL city financially-
-No car, lived walking distance from hospitals
-Was given a "Cheap Bastard's Guide to New York City" as a med school graduation present. Got many tips on how to enjoy the city without going broke. I managed to save a significant portion of my salary while going to a concert/show/restaurant 3-4 nights per week. This was extreme, but my point is that you CAN have fun on a resident's salary. Example- I heard on Pandora the other day of Groupon's new method to use groupons without having to pull out a paper coupon (which can be mildly embarrassing when with friends or a date).
-Grass is always greener. I was in a LCOL area for 4 years. Saved a ton of $. Would've given anything to be in a larger city. Hopefully your HCOL city is a fun one. Make the best of it.
-As others said, suck it up, put your head down, and finish up. Life will get better very soon.

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Re: Renting during residency

Post by DidItMyWay » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:16 am

I agree with those who say just stick it out.
With less than 2 years left, you will avoid moving costs, as well as the hassle of moving. You will also still have your privacy.
It sounds like you are doing great. As others say, keep your eye on the prize. 2 years go by very fast, especially when you're busy working.

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