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M&L

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This is a very difficult situation and it’s hard to say what is the right decision here . If I was in your position I would definitely, 100% rent as close to school as possible . Rent a room in an apartment with other students . It would be cheaper . If you can do within walking distance from school - even better .
 
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Goro

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Hi all, I am fortunate enough to be a M1 this fall! Yay! However, recently, as many students are looking for rent and I live close (but not extremely close) to school, I have been stuck in the dilemma of whether I should live at home to save money or at school again. So my school is located in a medium-big sized east coast urban center with expensive living costs and unfortunately, will probably not qualify for financial aid at my private school and will have to take full 90k/yr in loans for COA (tuition + room + board + costs). I do not have any cheaper options as I was accepted through a direct admission program which I applied to this one school without the MCAT. After browsing for rent, anywhere within 20 min public transportation appears to be at least 800/month (if I find 3 or more roommates) or 1k/month+ if I want to live closer or rent alone.

However, I live in the suburbs of the city (around 50 min public transportation (bus -> subway) and figured if I lived at home, I could save 10k (potentially more a year if factoring in groceries/laundry/food) even if I factor in commuting costs. Still, after talking with some M1s at my school, it appears that while classes are P/F nonranked and 2 days of in person (for labs) classes during COVID, commuting 1 hr each way would not be very doable and most students have agreed on 20 min transportation max. Also, pre-COVID, while most classes are recorded and attendance is not mandatory, M1s have told me to expect 3 - 4 days of in person classes weekly. While 2 days of commuting 1 hr each way seems fine, I do not know if I can do more than that if the pandemic ends soon. An additional option could be to buy a cheap car for 5k (also useful for rotations M3/M4) and drive 20 - 30 min to school from home each day (parking costs 10/day at the school garage) but I am not the best driver and morning traffic could be a problem. I could also bike instead of take the bus to the subway station, which would be around 40 min instead of 50 min commute total since bus traffic, but that could be a problem as it gets snowy in my city in the wintertime and is difficult to bike back from the station in the dark if I come home late.

Apart from finances, while my parents are letting me live at home for M1, I do not have the best relationship with my mother (we fight occassionally, but things have been peaceful for the past few months since we agreed to limit talking). During our fights, she has also accused me once or twice of "freeloading" (living/working 9 - 5 at home in my gap year at 21 even though we are lower-middle income and I do not have financial means to rent out) and does not let me eat her cooking. Still, I will probably have to cook anyways in med school if I rent out (I already cook most weekdays in my gap year while working) and I do have a wonderful relationship with my dad, who works weekdays but covers cooking for me on the weekend. Personally, because of my relationship with my mother, the distance, and perhaps for the good of my sanity during med school, I am thinking of moving out, but the past few months living at home have been peaceful (no fights) and taking out 90k/yr in loans with 6% interest has been stressing me out more. I think I will definitely move out for M2, but I do want to save as much money as possible and do not know if my concerns justify an additional 10k - 15k in loans. I know this is a long post and a personal decision but any suggestions/advice from current med students on what I should do? Thanks!
Losing at least two hours a day to commuting instead of study time is a recipe for disaster. And I have seen it crater my students ambitions.

Get an apartment and find a roommate
 
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xffan624

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It's not a slam dunk either way. Either decision is justifiable. Keep in mind the following:

1. A public transportation commute is not the same as driving as you can study when on the bus or train. Usually there is less stress involved as well.
2. You don't have to make a decision for all four years right now. You can try out either option and shift as necessary. Although if you have roommates likely decisions will have to be made at the start of the school year when people are in transition.
 
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Deltasidearm

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I would not live further than 15 minutes from the university. Especially given your toxic relationship with your mother, I advise it's time to move out and be fully independent. You will be able to afford it and pay back the loans as long as you succeed in medical school, which losing 10 hours/week to travel and living in a potentially unhealthy environment is not conducive to.

Also, if you are planning on moving as a M2 anyway then just do it now and set yourself up for the most success in M1.
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Toxic relationship + long commute is not good. Start looking for potential roommates in FB or groupme for admitted students.
 
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emergentmd

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You are 21, taking a hugggggeeeeee yearly loan out regardless. What really is 40K over 4 yrs for sanity, extra 2 hrs a dy to do whatever you want. And that is not even taking into account your toxic family issues.

Imagine coming home from a long day at school and you just got into a fight with your mom. You turn the front door know and find out that you are locked out. Now what?

You will have at most 80K more after interests when you are done with residency in 7-10 yrs. That is about 4 months of attending work. Is it really worth 4 months of work to suffer for 4 years?

Its a no brainer to me. If your mom lived 1 min from school, I would tell you to find your own place and time to be an adult. She will respect your more for that.
 
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KnightDoc

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You are 21, taking a hugggggeeeeee yearly loan out regardless. What really is 40K over 4 yrs for sanity, extra 2 hrs a dy to do whatever you want. And that is not even taking into account your toxic family issues.

Its a no brainer to me. If your mom lived 1 min from school, I would tell you to find your own place and time to be an adult. She will respect your more for that.
THIS^^^^^^. You are freaking out because you are facing a tremendous amount of debt. $10K plus interest on top what is already going to be $400K+ is NOTHING!!!!! There really is nothing to think about here.

You should be near classmates, especially M1. You should be near school, especially M1. You should be out of your mother's house. Period. You made it into med school as a 21 year old and you're a freeloader? You should be getting out of there ASAP, regardless. The fact that someone is willing to lend you money to make it happen sooner rather than later is a blessing. Grab the opportunity.
 
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I was in pretty much this same situation this year as an M1. Though it wasn't entirely necessary for me to move near campus, being near classmates with similar schedules and struggles makes going through medical school much more bearable, and I think that is well worth the money.

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Warder

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Move out.

Been exactly in your shoes before for undergrad, although not as bad of a relationship with my mother (still not ideal). Big test tomorrow? Somehow like magic a big argument will happen. Project due? Suddenly there is a mile long list of things you need to do around the house today that you were never told of until you woke up that same day. You might be able to survive that way in undergrad, but it's playing with fire in med school.

Plus, there's nothing like living by yourself and being able to wait until 3AM to clean the bathroom after you're done with all your other work instead of someone yelling at you that it needs to be done right now!
 
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YCAGA

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I completely disagree with anyone saying that there is a debatable or difficult decision here. Less than ideal performance in medical school, even during the first two years, is going to cost you much more than $40,000 over the course of your career if you are forced into a less lucrative specialty and/or a specialty you are not happy in which makes you want to work less or retire early. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of living at home vs. near campus, but the short answer for OP is to get an apartment close to campus that is safe and clean and never look back.

This post brings up a way too common misunderstanding about the opportunity cost of spending relatively small amounts more when taking out loans in medical school. The financial aid people (who have never gone to medical school or earned a physicians income or matched to residency) tell you to take out as little as possible, but the most important thing in medical school is to match into your top specialty at a program you will be happy with. $200,000 or $250,000 in debt even with 3 to 4% interest is a tiny tiny drop in the bucket to your overall career earnings as a physician. This advice also applies to the horrible opportunity cost of working during medical school which I've seen people try to do in real life and ask questions about on forums.
 
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KnightDoc

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I completely disagree with anyone saying that there is a debatable or difficult decision here. Less than ideal performance in medical school, even during the first two years, is going to cost you much more than $40,000 over the course of your career if you are forced into a less lucrative specialty and/or a specialty you are not happy in which makes you want to work less or retire early. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of living at home vs. near campus, but the short answer for OP is to get an apartment close to campus that is safe and clean and never look back.

This post brings up a way too common misunderstanding about the opportunity cost of spending relatively small amounts more when taking out loans in medical school. The financial aid people (who have never gone to medical school or earned a physicians income or matched to residency) tell you to take out as little as possible, but the most important thing in medical school is to match into your top specialty at a program you will be happy with. $200,000 or $250,000 in debt even with 3 to 4% interest is a tiny tiny drop in the bucket to your overall career earnings as a physician. This advice also applies to the horrible opportunity cost of working during medical school which I've seen people try to do in real life and ask questions about on forums.
And .. it's not even $40K! OP said they were always planning to move out after the first year, so the question is literally just about $10K for the first, and arguably most important, year.
 
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lumya

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Do what makes the most sense and remember there are non-financial costs associated with certain things.

I for one loved my long-commutes (back when office-life was a real thing) and I got a lot of flashcards done and videos watched on the train and it was some of my most productive time. I also have a great relationship with my parents and my dad is an amazing cook. For me, the decision to live at home would be easy.

However, it looks like in your situation, you're battling both the long commute and a not stable relationship at home. In which case, you need to do what's best for yourself. Not that it's not a lot of money, but your cost of living is a modest amount compared to the amount of debt you'll be taking on anyways and if this alleviates part of your stress, it may or may not be worth more than 10k/year to you. It's good to be frugal during medical school with how expensive everything is, but you can't do that at a cost to other very important aspects to your success.
 
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LizzyM

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I think that when financial aid people tell you to take as little as possible, they are talking about non-essential spending -- a new phone every year, subscription boxes, non-essential travel, ordering take-out every night and $5 coffees every morning. They aren't talking about rent, groceries, utililties, and similar essentials. Taking the maximum and treating some of it like mad money is madness.
 
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YCAGA

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I think that when financial aid people tell you to take as little as possible, they are talking about non-essential spending -- a new phone every year, subscription boxes, non-essential travel, ordering take-out every night and $5 coffees every morning. They aren't talking about rent, groceries, utililties, and similar essentials. Taking the maximum and treating some of it like mad money is madness.
That is probably what they mean, but at many schools, the maximum barely covers rent, groceries, utilities and school resources. This is assuming you come into medical school with a reliable car and little to no credit card debt from applying. Forget emergency expenses or travel home to visit family. It is basically required these days to spend $1-2k on 3rd party research each year in M1 and M2 and many schools don't include that in their COA.

So blowing any "left over" money on non-essential spending would be maybe $200-300/month, or $15k for a $200k-300k degree. Definitely worth it if it makes you stay a little more sane.
 
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M&L

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That is probably what they mean, but at many schools, the maximum barely covers rent, groceries, utilities and school resources. This is assuming you come into medical school with a reliable car and little to no credit card debt from applying. Forget emergency expenses or travel home to visit family. It is basically required these days to spend $1-2k on 3rd party research each year in M1 and M2 and many schools don't include that in their COA.

So blowing any "left over" money on non-essential spending would be maybe $200-300/month, or $15k for a $200k-300k degree. Definitely worth it if it makes you stay a little more sane.
i hate to say this but i agree... i have to work 15 hours + a week in addition to financial aid to support myself.
 

Angus Avagadro

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Depends on the commute. What if you don't find a seat and have to stand? Can't get much done in the car. The overwhelming consensus is move closer and find a roomate(s). Congrats on your admission. Good luck and best wishes!
 
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That is probably what they mean, but at many schools, the maximum barely covers rent, groceries, utilities and school resources. This is assuming you come into medical school with a reliable car and little to no credit card debt from applying. Forget emergency expenses or travel home to visit family. It is basically required these days to spend $1-2k on 3rd party research each year in M1 and M2 and many schools don't include that in their COA.

So blowing any "left over" money on non-essential spending would be maybe $200-300/month, or $15k for a $200k-300k degree. Definitely worth it if it makes you stay a little more sane.
By “third party research”, what exactly are you referring to? I’m just curious.
 

YCAGA

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Do you have a source for this? At my school, the COA loans leave about $7000-11000/year for discretionary spending depending on how frugal you like to live (even getting your own apartment near campus). I imagine that's the case with my dental school friends (120k+ COA) since they all come from lower-income families and still had enough in loans to vacation in Hawaii and the Caribbean 2x a year.
Are you currently in medical school? How much do you spend a month and how much does your school give you in cash per year/semester? I have a very hard time believing $7-11k left over per year. On the high end that is almost $1,000 a month your school gives you that you don’t spend on required stuff like rent and school resources.
 

YCAGA

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Monthly Expenses:
$800 rent
$100 utilities (water, gas, electric, internet, alarm system)
$120 car and renter insurance (USAA, cheapest possible)
$300 food (includes eating out/drinks twice a month with friends...pre-COVID)
$50 gas
$30 cloud storage and entertainment (cloud backups and Netflix+Amazon Prime+Spotify/Hulu)
$20 gym app (school gym has not been open this year)

Monthly Total: $1420/month for 22 months = $31,240

School Resources:
Amboss ($780/2yr), Sketchy ($540/2yr), Pathoma ($80/lifetime), Pixorize ($200/1yr), BnB ($300/2yr), USMLERx ($210/2yr), UWorld ($530/1yr)
Pre-clinical Resources Total: $2,640

Yearly Expenses:
$300 clothes and shoes per year
$400 airfare to visit family once per year
$200 parking per year
$300 regular car maintenance per year
Yearly Total: $1200 for 2 years = $2,400

Monthly + Resources + Yearly = $36,280

My school gives us around $44,000 in cash for the first 2 years (technically 22 months as we are expected to work during the 2 month M1 summer to pay for rent and expenses).

So $44,000-$36,280 = $350 "extra" per month over 22 months.

BUT, the above budget was all of the expected and required spending
, it does not include: unexpected car repairs, iPad/tablet, medical copays, eye care expenses (100% out of pocket), dental copays, random house/apartment/technology/lifestyle stuff. Excluding the iPad, which isn't required, that is easily $2200 over 22 months, so now we are at $250 "extra" per month and that is still conservative. And god help you if you have CC debt from applying to medical school and going on interviews.

So, my original claim of maybe $200-300 extra per month stands and that is if you are lucky and come into medical school with a reliable-ish car and don't have any big unexpected expenses.

I am curious to see your numbers that leaves you with $11k/year if you are very frugal. I have a feeling you haven't paid your own bills before and/or aren't even in medical school yet.
 

Tenk

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I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else who asks this question. Rent the first year and see how you do. Avoid roommates for the first year until you meet people in your class you could see living with. You can even try commuting from home for a week or two once you get settled in.

I can almost guarantee you’ll prefer to live closer to school. Time is the one commodity you never have enough of in medical school and losing 2 hours a day is too much.
 
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MedScat

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If this was JUST about commute, I'd say the commute is manageable. I commuted about 45 mins each way for M1/M2 and sometimes up to 1.5 hour for some sites during M3. This was a personal choice so I could be closer to my family, also I don't mind driving

The issue with a bad relationship with your mom makes this completely different. Stress at home during an already stressful time in life (med school) will not bode well. Get the apartment
 
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YCAGA

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If you don't mind sharing your school's name I can crunch the numbers on my end using zillow/apartments dot com/local grocery/insurance etc
I don't need you to run the numbers for me since I already am in medical school lol. I know how much my rent and bills are because I pay them every month.

Yes, Midwestern does give a lot of money for living expenses, way more than I would have guessed, but it never gets to $70k for two years. You never receive the $4,048/yr in health insurance or $2,511/yr in loan fees as cash...that goes straight to the school/government/insurance company just like tuition and fees. This is also Chicago we are talking about. You can't be living in a cheap, sketchy Chicago apartment and expect to compete with your classmates who live in safe, clean housing. So you need to plan on spending at least $1400 for a studio near Midwestern's campus, and that is before utilities.

I don’t know of a medical school that gives you $2,300-2,400/month cash in a city where you can get a studio/1br for $1,000-1,100/month with utilities. If you can share school A and B that could help me understand what money you are almost certainly including my mistake. I understand if you don’t feel comfortable doing that because I don’t want to share my school.
 

YCAGA

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I believe you. I'm lucky to be attending a school in a decent COL city. Within a 2 mile radius there are $700 $1200 and $1800/month 1BR apartments depending on how luxurious I want to live (80s cabinets/no amenities OR average OR pool/guard/marble & granite etc). I guess not everyone has that same opportunity. Another school I interviewed at last year told us they overestimate misc expenses, transportation and books a bit to give people a nice buffer if they need it.
Gotcha. I wish I went to that school lol. It took years of campaigning for them to give us a budget for Sketchy and UWorld. And “average” in my city means cockroaches and getting woken up by drug busts down the hall 😃 fortunately that isn’t universal to where everyone goes to medical school
 
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