Moving for Residency

Many people who are studying to become doctors end up moving for residency during their career path. If you’re a medical student or medical professional, we’ve got you covered on your moving journey. If you are moving for residency, there’s a good chance you’ll be moving to a different state. That means packing and moving your belongings for, potentially, a cross-country move.  

Moving for residency can be a relatively pain-free experience and won’t break the bank; you just need to do your research beforehand to prepare for a seamless moving experience on your move date. 

Many doctors entering residency don’t have spouses, kids, and inordinate amounts of household goods. Thus, moving can be easier if you have less responsibilities and less stuff to pack up with packing materials. 

If you’re curious about the potential cost of your move, use our handy moving cost calculator to help determine the cost of your moving experience. And if you’re heading from Kansas to New York, or vice versa, or farther cross-country, we’ve got you covered on the best interstate moving companies. Also, check out our guide on how to prepare for a cross-country move for more tips. 

Plan ahead before your move

If your residency will be in a hospital-dense metropolitan area like New York, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, rest assured that lots of other young physicians will be flocking there, too. That may mean competition for apartments and movers, but it’ll also mean you’re joining a great and thriving community. 

It can be tempting to put off planning a move until the last minute, but it’s rarely a good idea. Moves go more smoothly when they’re planned for ahead of time, especially if you’ll be relocating during the summer months, when most moving companies are booked to capacity. To work with the best moving company and have a good moving experience with reputable movers on your move date to your new home, prepare ahead of time. 

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 some cases, depending on the moving company, 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 companies you’re considering when they give you estimates and a free moving quote for your move. 

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 an ideal place for you for your new home.

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 it’s an available option for you, be sure to negotiate your relocation package

Find a new home

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 or going cross country, because during residency, apartments are often little more than crash pads where you sleep and shower. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual real estate tours have become more common. 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 when moving

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, creating a DIY move with your friends instead of local movers. 

But now there are convenient options that offer some of the benefits of both without all the driving and expense. This is ideal for creating an effective move that suits your needs and budget. 

If you want to hire professionals from a professional moving company with local movers, know that choosing the cheapest movers is rarely the right way to go. A good moving broker is also a worthwhile option, just make sure to research thoroughly first, as there are many bad moving brokers out there. A bad moving broker will claim to work with reputable moving companies but may leave you stranded and overpaying in the end. 

The moving industry is plagued with bad moving brokers and moving scams (which may include red flags like negative reviews, lack of being upfront and transparent, and bait-and-switch tactics) which end up being a bigger headache than they’re worth. 

Read reviews

Also read customer reviews, check for bad reviews, and look up the moving company name with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) so you can see if there are bad reviews or if the moving company you want to hire falls under the umbrella of a worst moving company or a best moving company. Hopefully, it will be the latter! Bad movers or a bad moving company make moving for residency a major headache. 

To help you sort through the moving companies in the moving industry, 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, sometimes even down to the packing materials. 

Consider doing some of it yourself

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 okay with doing your own packing, consider making and following a schedule that starts weeks before your move date. Remember, packing and moving always take longer than expected! So plan ahead of time to avoid last-minute nightmares. 

Dedicate 30 minutes or an hour each 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 with local movers and a moving truck 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. 

Go for a hybrid move

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

With their services, you’ll need to do the packing on your own, packing up your household goods with packing materials. And you’ll need to do the moving on your own, but the container company will transport the loaded container to your new residence (or a storage facility at a storage association if needed) so you can drive your car or snag a cheap flight to your new home. 

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. This is a great way to go about your moving experience. 

Containers come in various sizes, and most providers have large national service areas. See our picks for the best moving container companies.

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

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

Pick Dates and Let Everyone Know You’re Moving

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

Make sure you’ve done the following before your move: 

  • You’ve adequately vetted your company of choice, and you’ve confirmed they are reputable movers and among the best moving company in the moving industry.
  • 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 needs.
  • 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 of at the appropriate time. 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. See our Full Change Of Address Guide for tips.

Ensure you have cash on-hand for your move

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

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

  • Buy your meals. 
  • Stay in a hotel or in short-term housing. 
  • Entertain yourself. 
  • Buy gas if you’re driving to a new 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 and don’t get too stressed

If an expensive vacation before residency is out of the question, using your mid-move lull to enjoy yourself could be an option to destress a bit before you start your residency.

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

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

Arrive early to your neighborhood

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 ready 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 town.

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 children or plan to start a family,  they’ll also be able to point you toward the best school districts.

Remember these things before your move

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, to avoid any stressful situations. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s when it comes to researching the potential limitations and roadblocks for when you’re moving for residency, especially if it’s for long-distance moving.  

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. This way, you’ll be fully prepared on moving day. 

In short, well-planned moves are usually smooth moves! So plan ahead, do your research, and stick to your schedule as closely as possible. That way, your move when you are moving for residency can be a great one.

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