woman thinking about moving for medical residency

Questions to Answer Before Moving for Medical Residency

If you’re thinking about moving for medical residency or fellowship, there’s no doubt your mind is racing. Do you have to move for medical residency? Will my spouse/partner be matched? Will WE have to move? Will I like my new community? All of these feelings are normal AND it wouldn’t be a normal MATCH season without some underlying worry. 

Once your spouse/partner begins interview season (sending positive thoughts your way!), you’ll need to begin thinking about your move. Oh joy! Questions about where you’ll end up, if you’ll know anyone, and what you’ll do when you get there are making you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. With all of these questions looming, where do you even begin? 

To help cipher through these questions, you’ll need to dig deep to think about what you want your move to look like and how you want to proceed in these next few months. Here are some things to ponder:

  • What’s Our Organizational Style?
  • What’s Our Moving Style?
  • Do We Have a Budget?
  • How Am I Feeling?

What’s Our Organizational Style?

You’ve heard the term, “there are many ways to skin a cat”? The same holds true for moving for residency. If you begin to research the moving process, you’ll find millions of ideas and methods you can use to help organize all of your things. With this in mind, it’s best to research your options and find what you prefer sooner rather than later.

Probably the most important question to help narrow down your options are: Do you like to write things down or do you like to organize electronically? 

Some love to write things down, physically crossing off lists and using colored markers. If this sounds like you, buy a moving planner or a binder to help keep things organized.

More of a spreadsheet type of person? Be sure to look for a downloadable moving planner that isn’t a PDF so you’re able to check items off in a spreadsheet.  

Whatever you decide, do this before you start any major planning. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you. There are plenty of options available if you do a little searching on Etsy.

Super techy? Take it up a notch and think about purchasing a QR scanner and printable stickers on Amazon to keep your things uber-organized.

What’s Our Moving Style?

Determining your moving style is fairly easy if you know yourself and understand how you fit with all of your options. Ask yourself these questions to figure out how involved you want to be in the moving process.

Do It Yourselfer: You lean into doing things yourself or you have a strong desire to maintain control over things. Consider:

  • Will you need extra muscle strength from someone else to help load and unload a moving truck?
  • Do you need a babysitter to watch the kids while you load the truck? 
  • What are your rental truck options? 
  • What types of boxes do you need and how are you going to acquire them? 
  • How will you pack and transport your delicate items?

Mixed Bag: You’re ok with doing some manual labor, but there’s a limit. Consider: 

  • What’s the limit of your manual labor? 
  • Do you want to pack items yourself or do you want the majority of your items packed by a moving company?
  • Where will your responsibility end and the moving company’s begin? 
  • What do you need that won’t be provided by the moving company? 
  • Will you need a rental truck? 
  • What are your rental truck options? 
  • What items will you move and what items will you want the moving company to move?

Hands Off: You’re a full-service type of person or your residency program has a moving stipend. Consider: 

  • Which moving company will best suit your needs? 
  • Would you consider finding a moving company through USHIP?
  • How will you be involved in managing the moving process? 
  • Is there anything that the moving company won’t ship?
  • If so, how will you move it? 
  • Do you want to find an unpacking company/service at the other end? 
  • What do you want your trip to look like if you’re not driving a moving truck? 

Do We Have a Budget?

Determining your moving type and your budget go hand in hand. We know plenty of families who would love to be in a full-service moving situation. Let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t be? The tough reality is that it’s expensive to move. If you haven’t saved up for the move or if the residency program isn’t helping out with a moving stipend, then the bad news is that you may need to start working out so you’ll be in shape for moving season! 

Moving can cost upwards of $6000. This can be scary if you find yourself knee-deep in medical school loans. Don’t worry there are physician loan companies that understand your position and are more than willing to give a small loan for moving expenses. 

We suggest you first write down all of the expenses you may incur during your move and go from there. A moving truck, supplies (e.g., boxes, tape, labels, etc.), hotel stays, babysitters, pizza, and beer for the helpers. Include everything all the way down to pens and pencils as this will help you gain a clear understanding of what’s involved. 

How am I Feeling?

Last, but not least, perform a self-wellness check. We know the thought of moving can be scary and overwhelming, especially when moving for residency. Finding out where you’re moving in March then having to settle by June or July is a lot to ask! You may find yourself so busy planning that you aren’t paying real attention to how you feel about the move.

Leaving friends, family and a community you love may be hitting harder than you think. Ponder what needs to be done to be mentally prepared and include those things in your to-do list. 

Get going-away parties on your calendar if you think that will help. Don’t wait ‘til the last minute to schedule appointments to visit your therapist. Schedule more than you think you’ll need and cancel if you feel like you’re doing ok. Visit all of your favorite local spots and soak up all the fun. Put holiday visits on your calendar so you can look forward to time with family and friends. Nothing is off-limits if it’s going to make you feel better about moving to the next season. 

Thoughts about moving aren’t the only things that can determine your mental wellness. Think about what you’ll do when you get to your new location and what it will take for you to feel good about being there. Whether your priority is making your new home a “home”, finding new friends, or getting a job, it’s important to have a plan so you can look forward to this next season with as much hope and comfort as you can. 

The MedCommons has resources to help you through your move. If you’re interested in more moving tips and ideas, check out our moving quiz with a personalized checklist to help organize your thoughts and help make some plans. 

If you’re looking for community, we launched The MedCommons Circle in 2021. The MedCommons Circle connects you with other physician spouses and partners in your area (within a 10-50 mile radius) who are on a similar journey so you can find much-needed friendship, community, and understanding. Think of it as a friending app exclusively for physician spouses and partners. And it’s free!

We hope you check out both resources as you take on this new adventure. In the meantime, we’ll be over here cheering you on as you move into your next exciting chapter of life!

  • Elizabeth is a Physician family advocate, Certified Life Coach for Physician Wives, EM wife of 20+ years, mother, and founder of The MedCommons – a marriage between her tech/business dev background and passion for helping physician families.

Share this article:

Newsletter Subscribe

The MedCommons Monthly

Friendly tips and expert advice delivered right to your inbox.  

Connect With People Who Understand

Medical moves without friends, family and a sense of community can be lonely and isolating. It shouldn’t feel that way. We’re here to help. We’ve built a way for you to connect with a community of physician spouses who know from experience that ​​residencies and fellowships are emotional and exhausting times. Quickly develop much-needed friendships to provide the comprehensive support you need.