3 Questions to Ask Before Medical Relocation

As a healthcare professional, you’ll likely have a medical relocation at some point during your career. In fact, you could relocate more than once! Whether you want to experience a new city, be closer to family, or want a lifestyle change, medical relocation is a big undertaking.

There’s a lot to think about during this transition, and it can often be stressful. In fact, studies have found that moving is more stressful than divorce, getting married, or even having a child.

To help alleviate some of the pressure, we’ve come up with a few questions every doctor will want to know the answers to ahead of their medical relocation.

What Every Doctor Should Consider During Medical Relocation

What are the licensing requirements in your new state?

Licensing requirements vary by state, regardless if you’re moving permanently or simply relocating for a travel assignment. Whatever your situation, you’ll need to obtain a license for your new state unless you’re working for a federal health program. 

It’s best to leave yourself plenty of wiggle room when it comes to licensing timelines. Do so by planning for the process to take at least two months from start to finish (including applying for and receiving your new license). You can find information about any relevant authorities, fees, and timelines by state here and CME state requirements here.

To speed the process up, consider signing up for the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. In this program, states share previously submitted information with each other, thus streamlining the licensing process. 

Though the program is active in over half of states, there are several eligibility requirements necessary to participate in the program, including:

  • The physician’s primary residence is in the SPL (State of Principal License).
  • At least 25% of the physician’s practice of medicine occurs in the SPL.
  • The physician is employed to practice medicine by a person, business, or organization located in the SPL.
  • The physician uses the SPL as his or her state of residence for U.S. Federal Income Tax purposes.
  • No history of disciplinary actions toward physician’s medical license.
  • A degree from an accredited medical school.

Is financial assistance available to you?

It’s no secret that moving can get expensive. Local moves can cost as much as $2,500 while out-of-state moves can cost even more, up to $7,000.

If your costs feel out of control, don’t panic! Because they’re trying to recruit the best of the best, your new employer may offer some type of financial assistance that will help offset these costs and take the financial burden off your shoulders. This type of benefit will most likely be brought up by the recruiter or hiring manager – but if it isn’t, take the time to ask. 

A recent study found that nearly 3 in 4 organizations offer a relocation allowance. On average, physicians receive over $10,000 to help ease the strain of expenses such as lease-break penalties and temporary housing.

For anyone relocating after residency, residency and relocation loans through private lenders are also an option during the fourth year of residency.

Will you be buying a home or renting?

This question is important, but the answer isn’t easy. There are pros and cons for both renting and buying, and your decision depends entirely on your unique situation.

For instance, if you’re relocating to a place you’d like to stay long-term (five years or longer), buying a home is something to consider. On the other hand, if you’re not sure or simply aren’t ready to make that decision, renting is okay, too.

Should you decide to buy, don’t panic if you run into trouble securing a mortgage. This happens to doctors often due to a high debt-to-income ratio, no cash, or no credit.

Physician mortgage loans are available to those in this type of situation. Also referred to simply as physician mortgages, these mortgages are similar to traditional mortgages but are far more accommodating to those in healthcare and allow for:

  • Higher loan amounts of $1 million or more
  • 100% financing 
  • The ability to close on a home before you have a job
  • A down payment of less than 20% and no private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  • The ability to refinance at any time

These loans have high limits and can be $1 million or more, depending on the mortgage lender – but be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. Spend and save responsibly.

Whatever job you decide to relocate for, don’t let the stress of notification requirements or financial burdens overwhelm you. Keep these questions in mind ahead of your medical relocation and you’ll have a smoother transition.


This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, legal, tax, nor any other professional recommendations or advice.


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