Moving for Residency

Relocating for residency? We know you have a lot on your plate. This guide will help you know what you need to know about making your move.

After four years in college and four more in medical school, you may be asking yourself if you’ve got what it takes to plow through another 2 to 7 of residency.

If so there’s a good chance you’ll be heading to a different state, and that means packing and moving your belongings.

Though it may seem like just another hurdle that’ll take lots of time and cost a fortune, that need not be the case.

Many doctors entering residency don’t have spouses, kids, and inordinate amounts of household goods.

So comparatively speaking, moving should be easy.

See our Moving Out of State Ultimate Guide and our list of the Best Moving Companies.

Plan Ahead

If your residency will be in a hospital-dense metropolitan area like New York, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, rest assured lots of other young physicians will be flocking there too.

That often means stiff competition for apartments and movers.

Though it may be tempting to put off planning a move until the last minute, it’s rarely a good idea.

Moves go more smoothly when they’re dealt with early on, especially if you’ll be relocating during the summer months when most moving companies are booked to capacity.

It’s also important to note that the farther you’re going and the smaller your shipment, the longer your transit time will be.

And in many cases, the lower you’ll rank on the company’s priority list.

If you’re moving out of state, plan for delivery times in the 1 to 3-week range, but get firm dates from the company’s you’re considering when they give you estimates.

Get a good idea of what moving should cost you with our moving cost calculator.

Ask about Relocation Assistance

Unless you’re a prodigy heading to Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, or Duke University Hospital, chances are you won’t be offered relocation assistance.

Nevertheless, it’s worth looking into.

Thankfully, many residency program coordinators have relationships with top-notch movers and local realtors who probably know just the kind of place you have in mind.

By using them, you’ll likely save a few bucks and get better service than you would elsewhere, because the hospital may funnel lots of business their way.

If this is applicable to you, here’s How to Negotiate Your Relocation Package.

Find a New Place

Looking for a new home or apartment can be fun, but doing it virtually may be the way to go if you’re busy.

This is especially true for renters moving long distances because during residency apartments are often little more than crash pads.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual real estate tours have become all the rage.

Many realtors now post videos of properties on their websites as well, so you can poke around on your own first to see what you like.

Of course, if you’re considering buying a home and laying down roots, you’ll probably want to go the traditional realtor route.

Also, keep in mind that hot properties near busy hospitals get snatched up quickly, so signing a rental agreement early may save you from having to settle for an unappealing place that nobody else wanted.

Consider your Options

Not too long ago there were few choices when it came to moving.

You could either go full-service or rent a truck and do it yourself.

But now there are convenient options that offer some of the benefits of both without all the driving and expense.

If you want to hire professionals, know that choosing the cheapest movers is rarely the right way to go.

The industry is plagued with scammy brokers that end up being a bigger headache than they’re worth.

That’s why we have picked out the best interstate moving companies.

In many instances, they’ll take care of scheduling estimates and handling all the little details.

Also ask yourself if you have the time, experience, and inclination to pack and move your items on your own, or if you’d rather let professionals handle it.

If you’re OK with doing your own packing, consider making and following a schedule that starts weeks before your actual move date.

Remember, packing and moving always take longer than expected, and if not planned for adequately they can turn into last-minute nightmares.

Instead, dedicate 30 minutes or an hour a day to packing, and start with things that rarely get used.

Better yet, discard or donate items that do little more than take up space.

Moving is a great opportunity to downsize, and many thrift shops and charities happily pick up gently worn clothes, furniture, and household items free of charge.

In some instances, however, professional packing just makes more sense.

It can be expensive, but if you’re a single apartment dweller with minimalist tendencies the cost may be negligible.

Of course, if you hire full-service movers they’ll do all the heavy lifting as well.

DIY moves may not seem like such a big deal, but a serious injury before residency could put a real crimp in your plans.

Driving cross-country can be a blast for adventurous types, and trucks from rental companies like U-Haul are usually in high demand.

On the other hand, piloting a large vehicle through inclement weather and mountainous terrain can be stressful and dangerous.

Thankfully, container moving services like PODS and U-Pack offer alternate options.

With their services, you’ll need to do the packing and moving, but they’ll transport the loaded container to your new residence so you can drive your car or snag a cheap flight.

You can even use container shipping services if you’d rather not pack or move your items yourself because a number of companies specialize in providing packing and labor only.

By opting for a hybrid service solution, you’ll reap the benefits of professional movers while taking advantage of the cheaper transportation provided by container moving companies.

Containers come in various sizes, and most providers have large national service areas.

Also consider whether you’ll drive your car, ship it, or get rid of it altogether.

If you’ll be living in Manhattan and working 85 hours a week for the next three years, you probably won’t need it–or the parking and insurance bills that go along with it.

See the top picks for moving container companies.

Pick Dates and Let Everyone Know You’re Moving

Especially if you’ll be moving during the peak season from June thru September, booking your move early is the best way to ensure you get the services you want.

Make sure that:

  • you’ve adequately vetted your company of choice
  • you have a written copy of the estimate
  • the pick up and delivery dates, services and price are correct
  • you’ve addressed insurance (valuation) and selected the option that best fits your situation
  • you have the company’s phone number, and they have yours

Once you’ve locked in your dates, give your landlord notice and schedule to have your utilities, cable, and internet shut off.

Ask the cable and internet companies about returning equipment like routers and cable boxes.

If you do, you may be refunded deposits that you’ve long since forgotten about.

Don’t forget to fill out an official USPS change of address form online or in-person, and notify your bank and credit card companies of the changes as well.

Full Change Of Address Guide.

If they know you’re moving, you’re less likely to have issues buying diesel fuel at a truck stop 400 miles from your last known residence.

Have Enough Cash and Credit On-Hand

Moving often comes with unforeseen expenses that can add up quickly.

Unless you plan on temporarily shacking up with friends or family, while your items are in transit you’ll need to:

  • dine out
  • entertain yourself
  • stay in overpriced hotels
  • buy lots of gas if you’re driving to another state

Also account for deposits on new apartments, setting up services like utilities, cable, and internet, and the possibility that your actual move cost will be higher than the original estimate.

Take a Break

If a high-dollar vacation before residency is out of the question, using your mid-move lull to enjoy yourself may not be a bad idea.

After all, it may be the last chance you’ll have for some time.

Road trips and staycations are popular and relatively inexpensive, and spending quality time with loved ones before heading out is probably wise too.

Consider catching a ball game with friends, visiting a state park, or just spending a weekend watching the Sopranos and napping.

Go Early

If state parks and lazy weekends aren’t your thing, getting familiarized with your new surroundings early may be the way to go.

If you’re raring to hit the road and explore new horizons, spending free time in a new city can be educational, invigorating, and downright fun.

If you’re flying by the seat of your pants and haven’t found a place, introduce yourself to a realtor or two and have them show you around.

Not only are realtors great resources for finding homes, but they’ll be able to clue you in on the best neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, and museums.

If you have a child or two, they’ll also be able to point you toward the best school districts.

Final Thoughts

Though space will be limited if you’re flying or driving, you’ll want to take the following items with you:

  • passport, birth certificate and Social Security card
  • valuables like jewelry, coin collections, and historic documents
  • irreplaceable items like photo albums and family heirlooms
  • medications
  • financial and medical records

If your new place has limited truck access due to weight restrictions, low overpasses, or tight turns, you’ll want to let your movers know about them before they show up.

In many condos and apartment buildings, elevators and loading docks must be reserved prior to moving day, so ask the property management people about their policies.

In short, well-planned moves are usually smooth moves, so plan ahead and stick to your schedule as closely as possible.

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