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Physician Relocation: How to pick the right home?

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Physician relocation is a two-fold situation: On the one hand, you’re starting your career and entering a new phase of life. On the other hand, it can be one of life’s most stressful events. This is especially true if you have a family and are already established in your community, or are moving across the country.

Even if you’re already a homeowner, there are several new things to consider when purchasing a home post-residency. And since you’re entering a new — and likely more stable — phase of life, you’ll want to make sure you make the right choice for you and your family. Below are what I consider the most critical tips when it comes to physician relocation and looking for a home post-residency: 1. Research, research, research. If you’re moving to an area that you’re not familiar with, it’s absolutely essential that you do good research. Pre-Internet, this was a tough task. But now, there are all sorts of tools and forums that make house hunting and physician relocation easier. (And you can get opinions and insights from locals, not pushy real estate agents.) First off, obtain a map of your new city. Playing around on Google Maps is a great idea, as it will allow you to see where businesses, schools and shopping centers are located. Next, get more insight into communities and neighborhoods by browsing City-Data Forums, where you can read through tons information about culture, safe areas, and real estate trends. If you have a specific question, you can post it on the forum for straightforward answers from locals. School Reports can also help if you have (or plan to have) children. Don’t forget that your physician relations contact (likely your recruiter) at your new job will be able to offer invaluable insight about physician relocation. (And when you’re ready, he or she might be able to recommend an excellent realtor or other resources.) If at all possible, make a special trip to the town or city to do some investigating. No amount of research can replace actually being in an area and taking in the atmosphere yourself. You can also consider renting for three months to a year until you’re ready to make a firmer decision about where you want to live. Keep in mind that this may place more stress on your family, though, as they’ll have to move again (and possibly change schools). 2. Make a list of your physician relocation needs, wants and must-haves. As you search for a house, you’ll need to keep in mind the specifics of what you want in the home itself. These can include (but are not limited to): • Number of bathrooms/bedrooms and garage space • Upgraded finishes (hardwood floors, granite countertops, etc.) • Condo vs. single- or multi-family home • Ability to accommodate your growing family Just as important are the requirements for your neighborhood. These include things like: • Commuting time to your employer • Proximity to good schools • Community demographics (age, education, lifestyle) • Population density (urban, suburban or rural) • Important community institutions (entertainment, churches or other amenities) Discuss these wants and needs with your family, and keep in mind that you may need to make sacrifices. For instance, you might opt for a longer commute to work if it means your daughter will be able to be closer to school and dance lessons, or vice versa. 3. Start the hunt! First and foremost, you’ll want to determine your price range. This New House Calculator can help you determine how much “house” you can afford by taking into account your income and existing financial situation. Getting pre-approved for a home loan is important, too, but remember that you don’t have to spend all of what you’re approved for. You’ll also need to consider what you’ll need to spend to get a suitable home in your new location. Zillow is an incredible resource for searching homes and sale prices. Be sure to interview real estate agents by phone before you make your trip. If at all possible, get a recommendation from someone you know — your physician relations contact, for instance. Be sure to tell your new agent that you only want to look at homes within your price range. You can’t waste time! Finally, be sure to take along your lists, including your wants, needs and must-haves. These will help you keep your perspective as you view multiple homes. Make sure it’s a decision you and your family can all be happy with.

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