A Resident’s Guide to Relocation

moving boxes fill apartment

If there’s one constant in medicine, it’s moving.

In just a couple months, over thirty thousand fourth-year med students will find out where they’ve matched for residency. Some of them will be staying at their medical school’s hospital. Others will be moving to a new city, state, or maybe even to a different coast.

If you’re relocating for residency, here’s what you need to know to make it happen.

Physician relocation services

Some banks offer physician relocation services to help with the logistics of moving. It’s basically like having a travel agent, except the one-way ticket is to an 80-hour work week.

Physician relocation services include tailored recommendations for services like local or interstate movers’ services and realtors. The recs often come with some nice perks, like off-peak pricing and free estimates. These little details can make relocation much more efficient and way less stressful.

It’s worth noting, though, that these services are generally only available to people who are going to be taking on a loan of some kind, whether it be a residency relocation loan (more on that below) or a mortgage.

If you’re not going to be taking on a loan to move for residency, of if you’re just looking for recommendations with no strings attached, check out the NextStop map. This is our latest and greatest project for relocating physicians and their families. It takes you to trusted local resources with the click of a button, and it’s totally free to use.

What is a residency relocation loan?

Lots of banks offer residency and relocation loans to help fourth-year medical students cover the gap between the last of their student loans and those first few paychecks.

Residency relocation loan funding can be used to pay for the major expenses associated with moving for residency as well as the expenses associated with actually finding a residency position. So fourth-year med students can get this type of loan early in that final year of med school to cover the cost of traveling to interviews and then later the cost of moving.

The nice thing about this type of loan is that it’s available up to 180 days before graduation and also up to 180 days after graduation. So if you decide not to take out extra loans at first, you have plenty of time to change your mind if you can’t make it work. You also don’t need your financial aid office to certify anything. It’s also worth noting that the residency and relocation loan is considered a private loan.

There are lots of different options out there for a residency relocation loan. Here are some key things to consider when comparing options:

  • Interest rate. This can be fixed or variable. There’s a wide range of rates, including as low as about 5% APR and as high as about 10%. It can be helpful to look at the interest rate and the repayment term together to see if it’s a good deal.
  • Fees. A lot of these loans come with no fees. So in my opinion, there’s basically no reason to go with a loan that has a fee. You’re already going to be paying interest, after all.
  • Borrowing limits. As far as I can tell, the minimum you can borrow is about $1,000. Some banks will let you borrow as much as $20,000. You’ll also want to look at the terms to understand what the money can be used for.
  • Repayment term. This is one term not to miss. Some loans will let you defer repayment during residency. Others require you to start pretty quickly after graduating.

Hopefully you learned a thing or two. If you’re looking for info about the fun side of relocating for residency, check out our recent guest blog. It’s written for residents and fellows who will be moving with partners, but I think it has some great tips for everyone.

Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

Gregory Hanson, MD, MPH

Greg is a PGY-4 interventional radiology resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. He graduated from UCLA with his BS in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences before moving across the country to New York City. While in New York, Greg obtained his Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology with an advanced certificate in applied biostatistics. He then went on to do his medical school training at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire. In June 2018, he started his post-graduate training with a surgical intern year at Jefferson before continuing there for his integrated interventional radiology residency. During his first year of diagnostic radiology, he began offering his services to various clients by any means possible and was able to make additional side income to help support his family through residency training. This is what sparked the idea for flipMD.

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