Moving to STL
“Well, I hope this works out,” I remember thinking while packing my possessions into a rental truck in Maryland. Having never visited St. Louis before (outside of my interview), I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Thankfully, getting settled in was a breeze, and life has been pretty good! After moving from the Washington, D.C. area, the low cost of living is what first struck me; I still marvel at the low rents and widespread free parking. Beyond that, I’ve found that St. Louis is a nice Midwestern city that strikes a great balance between big and small. There are always festivals happening in St. Louis, but there also are plenty of state parks within a one-hour drive. The MetroLink lightrail gets you around (for the most part), but it is just as easy to drive around the city. Take time to explore the neighborhoods, and you’ll find that each has its own unique personality, food scene and nightlife. Finally, remember that most of your classmates also are new to St. Louis! My favorite thing about Wash U is how easy it has been to find a group of
people to go see a concert, visit a brewery or go camping.
— Luke D., M1
Living With Other M1s
Deciding to live with other first-year medical students (M1s) was slightly nerve-wracking, considering the fact that none of us had ever met, but it has turned out to be a huge blessing and tons of fun! In our apartment, we have plenty of our own space, but it is so nice to have classmates around to vent with, have short study break dance parties, watch bad TV and eat lots of take-out and cake! Seriously, the communal food and shared desserts are a major plus. You might be concerned that living with other M1s would put you into a bubble of “med-school-iness” and while that could potentially, maybe, sometimes, theoretically happen, there are so many cool, talented, fun people at this school that your roommates are most likely going to be more than willing to put the anatomy manual aside and just let loose and talk about life. After a hard day of “med-school-ing,” it is nice to be able to come home, not have to explain why you smell like formaldehyde or how annoying Histology was because your roommates already understand! Also no need to explain why you’ve been in bed all day after an Anatomy exam! So even though moving to a new city and starting medical school can be weird, living with other M1s is the best way to just jump right in and start getting to know your classmates!
— Ashley R., M1
Finding a Roommate
A lot of people find roommates during Second Look Weekend. I know many people really like living with other M1s in order to have similar schedules and to have a buddy when you first move to medical school. For people like me who were not at Second Look Weekend, the M1 class president is in charge of a Facebook page for accepted students that contains a Google Doc for medical students looking for roommates. Through this Google Doc, I found a rising M4 who was looking for a roommate, and found out she actually went to my undergraduate university and that we had mutual friends. I have had a great roommate experience with her and have definitely enjoyed living with someone who has been through medical school before me and can give me tips!
— Lauren B., M1
Living with a Non-Med Student
I live with a PhD student that I met at my undergraduate university. It’s nice to come home and be able to get away from school and classmates. Before moving in together, I worried that I would feel isolated or out of the loop if I didn’t live with another medical student. However, we all spend so much time together as it is and people live really close to me, so I’m never too disconnected if I don’t want to be. I like living with another student because we are both busy (that is, constantly studying or sleeping) and respect each other’s need for a quiet and relaxing apartment environment. I think it would be a little tougher if I lived with someone who spent more time at home and had people over more often, but we have similar lifestyles so it works out well.
— Allie R., M1
Buying a House
Looking for a place to live is a big part of the overall financial planning for medical school, and purchasing a home or condo can be very beneficial financially. Housing prices in St. Louis are both incredibly low and also steadily rising. Prices are low enough that it would be completely feasible to rent out a room or two to other medical or graduate students and thereby cover almost your entire mortgage. I would suggest getting a real estate agent to help navigate the many potential neighborhoods and hazards of purchasing property. If you do end up purchasing, you will also want to have a thorough inspection from someone who is used to examining older homes so you are not stuck with expensive problems. Owning your own place means that you are your own landlord and you have to fix things in your century-old home when they break or when you have a minor mouse infestation in your oven. But it also means that you can have pets if you want, or plant a garden in the backyard, or nail things into the wall without worrying about your deposit. In the end, the process of obtaining a house and homeownership itself are a lot of work, but they come not only with financial benefits, but also a lot of freedom and fun.
— Charles S., M1
Don’t get me wrong, I lived in dorms with roommates for all four years of my undergraduate studies — and for a few years after that — and I loved it. But I have really learned to value alone time, when you don’t have to make small talk while you are preparing breakfast, and you definitely don’t have to worry about how you are dressed in your own home. I’d always wanted a place that felt like it was my own. Besides, my significant other and I had decided to do a long-distance relationship, so I knew he’d be coming to visit a lot. Compared to the city I came from, rent in St. Louis is life-changingly affordable. I found that the WUSM program makes it incredibly easy to make friends (the lack of roommate has never hindered me) and honestly, I spend so much time with them that some days it is a relief to come home to just me.
— Stephanie T., M1