Applying to Medical School (3) : The True Cost of Attending and the “Sunk Cost” Fallacy

This post has been sitting in my “drafts” for quite some time and, honestly, I still probably wouldn’t have gotten around to writing it were it not for my upcoming review of my 2021 Financial Goals…

As I have shared with some of you who have written to me privately by email, at this time, I have decided not to pursue medical school. I have gone back and forth about this decision for YEARS, however, coming to terms with a few things has gotten me to a place of mostly contentment with this decision. A few things…

The few things mostly have to do with my motivations and desires. While these are enmeshed and overlapping, I will do my best to pull these apart here:

1) Sunk Cost – I think part of my motivation to continue down this path had to do with the sheer amount of time and money I had invested in this endeavor. Beyond just the upfront course costs, there was also the missed year of professional earnings, retirement savings, and accumulating student loan interests that resulted from me returning to school full time to take premed courses. When you make that sort of investment of your time and money it is difficult to walk away. Unlike if I had pursed a graduate degree or had been working, walking away was made more difficult because I felt like I had nothing to show for that time. I still feel this way. However, I have also come to realize that this “sunk cost” cannot be a primary motivator.

2) True Cost of Attending – One of the great things about being an older premed is that physicians don’t feel obligated to give you the “rah, rah, you can do it” pep talks. Instead, many of them were brutally honest about the “true cost” of a career in medicine, and how much more complicated that choice becomes for someone in their 30s. PRIOR to the pandemic, I talked to happy physicians who were supportive and encouraging, but I also talked to miserable physicians who talked to me about the constant sacrifice of time, happiness, and money that the study of medicine requires. While I think it is possible that I could have been one of those happy physicians, especially if I found a way to make medical school cheap, I realized that I was not willing to make the other sacrifices…at least not at this point in my life. For a long time, I think when I would have these thoughts I would just attribute it to me being a lazy person. I’m not a lazy person. Instead, I’m making a different choice about how to spend my energy, talents, time, and money.

3) Service to Community
– I turned to the pursuit of a career in medicine just before I graduated from graduate school. My own recent interactions with health professionals and my research on the reproductive care of black women made me passionate about ameliorating healthcare inequities. My academic work in graduate school had also left me feeling like “my feet didn’t touch the ground.” What did it matter if I could have erudite conversations with my fellow graduate students…how did that improve the lived experiences of anyone? While I don’t think the answer to that question is important to everyone, it is important to me. And it will continue to play a large role in shaping my professional work. However, medicine is not the only way to be of service to my community.

4) Stimulation
– And finally, prior to going to graduate school I was working a corporate job. While the pay wasn’t bad (seriously, I made more money at 26 without a master’s degree than I did at University B), I was constantly bored and unchallenged. I loved graduate school and was convinced that medicine would provide me with a way to continue being stimulated, while also being of service to others, and eeking out a decent living. As I concluded above, I realized that there are also other ways to do this that don’t require investing 7+ years of my life in additional education and training at the cost of many other things.

Okay. That’s most of it. Almost all of it. People in my life have had different thoughts about my journey with medicine and their influence on me was more or less significant at different points. When I made this decision, I didn’t talk to anyone about it. Didn’t ask anyone for their opinion. Didn’t solicit advice. At the end of the day, this is my choice and I’m the one who has to be comfortable with it. And, for the most part, I am. There is a chance that some of this contentment has to do with me finding an alternate path to achieving much of the above (I told y’all before that I’m a planner) but that is for another post.

I got a new job!

If you read my Misc. Income Report (Earned through 12/17/21): $243.01 post, then you might have known this was coming. If not, now you know!

For the past few months, it has been quite obvious that I have been frustrated with my boss and compensation at University B. In fact, I seriously thought about quitting and only backed away from that decision after I realized I would lose all of my employer matches to my 403b contributions as I had yet to meet the three-year vesting date. I was frustrated, a bit depressed, and felt stuck but I was planning to ride it out until July of 2022. How quickly things can change…

The week before Thanksgiving, a colleague and friend reached out to tell me that they had been made aware of a role with a non-profit for which they thought I would be a good fit. I reviewed the role and not only was my educational experience exactly what they were seeking but my work experience also matched up neatly with what the organization stated were its’ future objectives. Unlike most instances in which I would piddle around and ultimately not end up applying, this time, I invested significant time in writing a very tailored cover letter, updating my resume, and getting feedback about both from others. And it paid off.

The head of the organization reached out to me the week after Thanksgiving to set up an initial interview. I was then offered a second interview with a larger swathe of the staff for the following week. And this week, I was invited to a follow-up meeting with the head of the organization that was ultimately so they could feel out my continued interest and make me a verbal offer. I received a written offer less than an hour later.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I cannot begin to explain how excited I am. As I have hinted at in all my posts this month, this is a career-defining opportunity as it means a significant increase in income (+$26,000.00) and positions me well, in terms of job title and responsibilities, for my next role.

I know that this is a personal finance blog and I owe you all the gory details as to what this means for my student loan debt repayment plans, and that post is coming, but for now, I just want to be ecstatic.

As always, THANK YOU all for your company and support along this journey.

October 2021 – Life Update

I haven’t written a life update in some time and I figured it was time I wrote one as life things often change your finances…

1) Applying to medical school – Not too long ago, I wrote “When the universe decides to call your bluff…” and I thought (and maybe you did too…except maybe C, she seems to be a soothsayer of sorts) that I was done with the “will she/won’t she” apply to medical school waffling until April. Yea…no. I know this is a life update and I hate putting off telling you what I have decided until another post…but I am. For the moment, I will say that I am the most content and the least anxiety ridden I have been in some time.

2) Dating/Social Life – Despite my very demanding schedule at University B, I have managed to squeeze in a couple of dates. I had a nice time, and great conversations with all of them, but no real attraction. I also thought that Dude (he actually hates the word “dude”…it’s probably why I initially used it) Gentleman Avery and I had finally moved on from whatever lingering mental pull we had on one another…but that was not to be the case. It was disappointing because I thought I had gotten to a place where I admitted I loved him (to myself…had been fighting this for some time), was comfortable with that, and with the idea that for several reasons, it just wasn’t going to work out. It only took one conversation between us to really “wreck” all the “progress” I had made in terms of moving on. I take a small amount of comfort from the fact that I know he hasn’t been able to move on either.

In between odd dates and work, I have also managed to make a few friends and good work colleagues. This is the first time in my adult life that I have really established significant connections and friends in a city and it’s pretty great. I went out for drinks and a late dinner with a new acquaintance (we’ve decided we will be friends) and I had the most fun I have had in some time. It must have showed, as the hostess stopped by our table to ask about our “girl’s night” as we “seemed to be having so much fun.” It was a pricier hangout that most nights for me, however, over the course of the evening, I learned she is also a pretty frugal person with significant student loan debt she is working to pay off (she is only 31) and pursuing public service forgiveness. I have more in common with her at this current point in my financial life than I have with anyone else and I am excited about the possibility of being able to be a bit more open with someone in real life about financial goals, plans, etc.

3) University B – I am just going through the motions at University B as I am mentally checked-out. And I admitted as much to my boss during my glowing (seriously, this man didn’t give me any constructive/critical feedback) performance review. I will continue to perform well in my role and do my best to support students, but beyond that, I am just counting down the days until June. A committee of which I was co-chair, whose work will be made redundant before the report to which we contributed is even published, has gratefully come to an end. I also have taken a step back from one of the “additional” duty jobs I had which resulted in a small stipend each month. Of course I decided to step away from it just as they increased the amount of the stipend…but that’s often how it goes. I may consider serving in this role again for the Spring semester but we will see.

My actual role at University B is incredibly demanding, in terms of my time, at the moment. I have worked three weekends each in September and October and will work two weekends in November. The Saturdays I give up for this role are really long days (usually 6:00AM-5:00PM) and I feel like the next day (like today) I spend a lot of time just trying to recover, and don’t feel like I have gotten a “real” weekend. Eh. It’s another reason I am excited to step away from this role in June.

This life update is a bit shorter than most because my gig work has meant I haven’t really been pursuing consulting work, and I have been doing gig updates in separate posts. I expect to pursue more consulting work in the next year but I am pretty happy with my gig work/full time work balance at the moment.

Applying to Medical School (4): When the universe decides to call your bluff…

In an overly dramatic post last week, I shared with you all that I am sc-ared of deferring money from aggressive student loan repayment to apply to medical school. I mean, I said some other stuff, all true, but at the end of the day, the immediate consideration is that every dollar I put toward the uncertain process of applying to medical school is a dollar I won’t be putting toward my very certain student loan debt. While this anxiety isn’t new to me and has kept me company for at least four years, the universe seemingly got sick of my belly aching and decided to call my bluff…

Yesterday, I received a notification from the payroll system of University B (my current employer) that my pay-stub for a direct deposit being made this Friday (10/15/2022) was now available for review. Assuming it was an error or a resend of my monthly pay-stub, I initially ignored it. However, after reconciling my financial books last evening, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a peek. I was immediately confused. While the amount seemed familiar, I was confused as to why I was receiving a deposit on a biweekly payroll cycle. As I didn’t want any problems with my future paychecks, I immediately reached out to human resources representative for my division and asked her about the odd payment. She surprised me by informing me that it was for a retroactive payment for an extra duty I performed in August and that the amount was correct. Well…okay.

However, before I could even begin to obsess over how much closer the $323.00 payment was going to put me towards my goal of getting under $90K in student loan debt this year, I received an email reminder from the Association of American Medical Colleges letting me know that registration for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), for the 2022 test year, would be opening today at 12:00PM EST for Group A testing sites (East Coast and Midwest testing sites). Yea.

An 8-hour beast of an exam, the MCAT has felled many a hopeful premed. It also doesn’t come cheap at $325.00. Yea.

So…the universe seemingly called my bluff with this pot of “found” money and I decided it was time to put-up or shut-up. The above is my MCAT registration receipt for the March 25th test date. This is more than enough time to really study for the exam, giving it my best effort, and determine whether or not I have a competitive enough score to apply. In the medical school admissions process, especially for an older student, your MCAT score is often the determining factor as to whether or not you get admitted to medical school. You receive your score approximately one month after you take the exam. For me, one way or the other, whether or not I will continue to pursue admission to medical school will be determined in April of 2022.

Applying to Medical School (3): All I KNOW is student loan debt repayment.

This is not the post I owe you but it is the post I need to write at the moment…

Despite the apparently cavalier approach to both my career and finances in my 20s, I am actually a risk averse person. I take “risks” but only after thoroughly assessing the potential outcomes and weighing them against my interests. In the past, my happiness and intellectual interest has been given far more weight that it perhaps deserved. Or not. I was young and theoretically I had time to “recover” from any missteps. And I did. I am recovering.

Part of that recovering has been paying off my student loan debt. Paying off my student loan debt doesn’t really come with risk. While there is a chance that I could end up better off taking a different approach where I invest earlier, every dollar I put towards my debt leaves me in a better financial position than I was previously. The plan to paying off debt is really clear. there are no risks. There is no uncertainty. Earn more. Save more. Spend less. Send in extra payments.

Applying to medical schools is not a certainty and it is a very expensive and time consuming process (which I have detailed extensively in the past so I will spare you here). For this reason, I have been dragging my feet on applying. Ultimately, I dragged them long enough that it was not possible for me to get a seat for the MCAT that would be accepted during this application cycle. At first my response was a reflexive panic that this choice/opportunity/avenue had been taken away from me. Followed immediately by relief and new plan making. “I could apply to schools that accept a January MCAT or I could sit for the MCAT in January…or I could wait an apply next cycle…or…or…or.”

All I know is student loan debt repayment. Applying to medical school seems scary not because I won’t get in or because the road to being a physician might be long or hard. It seems scary because it would require that at some point in the very, very near future that debt repayment (picking up gig shifts, spending very little, etc.) take a back seat to the application process for medical school. And that feels super uncomfortable to me so over the past few months I have been trying to consider every other career path that might make me happy that wouldn’t require that I de-prioritize my student loan debt…because all I know is student loan debt repayment.

But time is running out and I need to make a decision soon. My best friend asked me, “What if you didn’t have any student loan debt? Would you go to medical school?” My response was, “Absolutely.” Her response was, “Then that’s what you should do.” I think she is correct. I also think it is an oversimplification of the costs and risks associated with pursuing a career in medicine at this stage in my life.

At this stage in my life… Let me not pretend that I have not considered, ad nauseam, how pursuing a career in medicine at this stage in my life might complicate dating or having a family. Let me not pretend. Let me not pretend that Dude Avery’s questioning of my choice, and disapproval, didn’t make me feel a bit insecure or like I was making a mistake. Let me not pretend.

There is a lot going on in my head…which is why I haven’t written a medical school application update post in quite some time despite promising to do so. I am scared and worried that I am once again being overly self-indulgent and that my continuing to pursue medicine is something I will one day regret…perhaps because so many physicians with whom I have spoken seem to regret it.

All I know is student loan debt repayment.

Gig Tales: Am I being a lazy heffa?

You may recall in my most recent Gig Income Report that I had no desire to work this weekend…and I didn’t. In fact, as we close in on noon in the Eastern Standard Timezone, I am still in bed. However, initially, this bout of laziness and rest came with a great deal of guilt. I don’t know if other folks in significant debt experience this or if this is an adverse effect of gig apps…

I celebrated a month of using gig apps a couple of days ago and I know this because Qwick sent me a celebratory email. For the most part, I have loved gig apps. They are as advertised and as long and you show up to your shift on time and work hard, all is well. However, one of the things that I didn’t mention in my initial review, Gig Tales: The Apps, is that in addition to seeing gig opportunities as they are posted, the apps will often send you notifications and text messages to let you know that gigs are available, especially if they get a “last minute shift” or have someone call out. Qwick calls them “hero” shifts and in addition to bonus points to your “Qwick Score” for accepting these shifts and no penalty for arriving late, they also offer a bonus percentage on top of the original hourly rate. The rates for these last minutes shifts can creep up quite a bit and I have been offered as much as $22.50/hour to polish silverware. I kid not. And obviously I accepted that gig.

At this point, you might be asking, “So AP, what is the problem? Good pay and you only work when you want to work. Where is the bad?” The bad is that it means that work is always available and that you are always being given the opportunity to work. Yesterday, between Qwick and Tend* I received more than ten text messages and numerous app notifications alerting me to available shifts. I think when you are paying off debt, especially a significant amount of debt, it feels like you don’t have the right to turn down work. I think being “unaware” of work or “unable” to work is a bit easier outside of the apps because it can take a great deal of luck, timing, and energy to arrange casual work. However, with the apps that is not the case. There is always work available, especially on the weekends, and if you aren’t working it’s because you are making a choice not to work.

Ultimately, I asked a male person I have been seeing (not Dude Avery…I know! Maybe more on that later…) if I was being a lazy heffa by not working this weekend and his response was fast and succinct: “No, you need a day off or you will burn out.” While I have known this person since I was 27, like most people, he has no idea how much student loan debt I have. However, for whatever reason, Squaddie (we’re referring to this male person as “Squaddie”) telling me that it was okay to take time off was what I needed to stop looking at my phone and feeling guilty every time I got a ping or a text and finally settle in to enjoying my weekend off. And I have.

*I turned the notifications for Instawork off two weeks ago because they are automated, repetitive, and happen at a very high frequency.
** I recognize that C has been warning of this moment for some time and like most things, she was eventually proven to be correct. Time off is important and I will prioritize it more in upcoming weeks as the start of the academic semester results in my primary job at University B becoming more demanding.

Should I be insulted?

Where to begin…

I got into the office a bit late today because I stayed fairly late yesterday evening to support new student orientation activities. After getting through my inbox, I noticed an email roughly entitled “FYI.” This correspondence was from my boss and the Outlook preview gave me reason to assume it was about compensation…so I procrastinated reading it. Finally, around noon I could take it no longer and opened it. The email itself was gracious but brief and directed me to open the attached letter. The letter, also from my boss but copying his boss and human resources, very briefly stated that as a result of my hard work on several projects, my boss, his boss, and the division had decided to award me a bonus of $1,500.00. Additionally, my salary would also increase by 2.5%. After rereading the letter several times, the overwhelming feeling that accosted me was…disappointment.

Hours later, I realize the disappointment arises from three distinct places… Firstly, is the actual amounts themselves. As a result of having a friend in the same division, whose boss is a lot more upfront in discussions about compensation, I know the spot bonus range and know that my bonus is the lower end. Secondly, where the letter states the reasons I am receiving the bonus, it does not mention a significant amount of non-role specific departmental labor I have performed over the past year and a half. Work that was the responsibility of another staff member who did not complete it before leaving our department. Work that was essential to our department’s performance. From my perspective, not only am I not being compensated for this labor that no one else wanted to perform (we are talking about weeks of work for an assignment that had university presidential level visibility) but I also feel like my boss probably isn’t giving me credit for the work outside of our office. That is, I think he is still allowing people (i.e. his boss) to assume that my departing colleague completed the work. Because, if they didn’t complete that work, what did they do? As I shared previously, my boss is incredibly inspiring and a visionary but he is also a bad manager of people.

And thirdly, and I feel this is most significant, I am disappointed that my boss tried to present the pitiful 2.5% increase as a salary adjustment. The same departmental friend also let me know that everyone in the division (including my lovely new colleague who earns $7K more than I do) is being awarded the 2.5% increase. The increase wasn’t tied to my individual work but was awarded by the division head to everyone for the rough year. Framing it as an increase that was tied to my work seemed…dishonest and a bit disrespectful. I would much rather have had my boss just tell me that he couldn’t get me a salary adjustment. But he hates confrontation, and delivering bad news, so I am not entirely shocked he decided to frame the increase in this manner.

Ultimately, I am in a place where there are a lots of questions, including the title of this post, running through my mind even if not very much has actually changed.



I Quit?

Shockingly, this is not click bait. And this time, I’m not talking about a part time role…

I am underpaid. While I have believed this to be the case for some time now, being underpaid during a global pandemic is an awkward position to occupy. Unlike folks who lost their income or their lives, I have remained employed and healthy. For that reason, despite my belief knowledge that I am underpaid, I was prepared to gratefully accept my meager wages (yes, I understand that my salary isn’t terrible but this is also a role for which a master’s degree is required). That was until I learned that my new colleague (who I already really like) gets paid almost $7,000.00 more than I do….

Before you say, “But AP…” I would kindly ask you to hush-it. I sat on the search committee for that role and know that my new colleague and I have similar educational backgrounds and professional experience. However, it wasn’t until my new colleague and I were having a candid chat about how little we both get paid that they let their figure “slip.” I was shocked. While I had an idea that they made more than I do, I don’t know what it was about hearing them say it out-loud that made me so angry…and hurt. I had directly communicated to my boss during several one-on-one conversations over the past year that I believed my role warranted a salary adjustment. The department had increased the role title from a coordinator to an assistant director without a commensurate change in salary band. My boss, who loathes confrontation, continually said complimentary things about my work and endeavored to make me feel “heard” while demurring on the actual issue of salary.

So on Tuesday, after that candid chat with my colleague, I sat down to calculate the true cost of quitting my job. I calculated how much I would have to earn an hour to replace my current salary and included benefits like health insurance, employer 401K and HSA contributions, and death/disability insurance. After I came up with the hourly or daily rate I would need to stay afloat, I decided it seemed “doable” and concluded that it wouldn’t be so very difficult to find another role at my current salary. Then, I sent my boss (who I like a great deal) an email with the subject line: Planned Resignation. In the email, I explained that I was planning to resign but that I wanted to speak with him about how I could depart without causing serious damage to the programs I manage. Unsurprisingly, he schedule a one-on-one with me for an hour later.

I went into that meeting a bit sad but comfortable with the decision I had made. My boss also seemed sad and asked if it was about my salary. I was honest and told him it was but also offered that a new role would give me an opportunity to continue my professional development. It was at this time that he disclosed that he had recently gone to his boss to inquire about both a bonus and a salary adjustment for me. And that while he could not disclose the amount, that his boss had approved both. I was…shocked. And sad. We spent the next ten minutes talking about how much respect we have for one another and we ended with him encouraging me to think about it over a couple of days.

It didn’t take me a couple of days. With some of my anger now diffused, I did a bit more investigating and learned that the unvested portion of my 401K was in excess of $12,000.00. Which meant that if I left prior to the vestment in the Spring of 2022, University B would take back its $12,000.00 in contributions. Ummmm…no. I also spent a bit of time thinking about the other people with whom I work that would be negatively impacted by my abrupt departure, the community I support, and the students I advise. With that $12,000.00 being a significant factor, I concluded that two weeks notice did not seem like enough time.

On Wednesday, my boss and I met again. I thanked him for the grace he had extended me and asked him if he would be amenable to me staying on until the end of the academic year. It would give me enough time to transition to my next place in life, for my 401K to become fully vested, for me to wrap up loose programming ends, and enable them to conduct a candidate search during the height of hiring season (I have a somewhat specialized role). He said that he was glad to have a bit more time with me and encouraged me to keep him apprised of my plans as the year progresses. And that was that…for now.

There is obviously a lot more to this story, a lot more to the relationship I have with my boss, and a lot more going on with where I am at this moment… The only thing of which I am very certain is that I just gave myself a deadline. A deadline by which I have to have a new plan. And instead of feeling scared or anxious, I feel relieved. I have become comfortable and complacent in my current role, and scared to rock the boat less I disrupt my predictable monthly student loan debt payments. However, that isn’t me. That has never been me. I have deadline. I have a goal. And I am prepared to do whatever it takes to meet it.

That time my room flooded…

This post title should seem terrifyingly familiar to a post I wrote almost exactly six months ago…

As of today, I have been in my new place for exactly thirty days. Move-in day did not go smoothly and a couple of things had to happen so that I could be comfortable (more on that later). But for the most part, closing in on the end of the month, all was well and I was getting more situated. That all changed last Thursday when I stepped out of my room to go to the kitchen…

As I stepped out of the door, the carpet made a crunching sound under my feet and felt…wet. As I got further down the hallway, the carpet felt dry and no longer made the crunching sound. So I walked back to the wet area and realized the carpet was much, much wetter than I initially understood. Other than my room, bathroom, and the external storage closet, the hot water heater closet is the only other space on my floor. As my bathroom was dry, I opened the hot water heater closet to find the water heater leaking, and almost an inch of water on the concrete floor. I quickly texted my roommates and grabbed a bucket to stem the flow of water.

Notice the amount of water displaced by my foot.
This is the bucket and pan used to capture leaking water. This is the amount of water captured after six hours passed overnight. I had to change this bucket every five hours for four days.

SERIOUSLY? HOW? WHY? And in WHAT terrible Tyler Perry film am I trapped?

I cannot begin to explain how sad and depressed I was in that moment. Over the next six days I spent countless hours on the phone making appointments with plumbers and other contractors, only to be no-showed by several. I have two amazing housemates (more on that later) but we were consistently turned down for service by contractors because we were not the home owner for liability reasons. This was made further complicated by the fact that the home owner lives in Asia and does not have home owner’s insurance, so she is reluctant to spend very much on repairs. (I found out through some housemate chats that a year ago one of the air conditioners broke and cost her quite a bit. This house was built in 2006 and, unsurprisingly, without some maintenance and tending, it is around this time that thing begin to wear…) This process was made all the more vexing by the fact that the landlord initially seemed to take no level of responsibility, never checked in on what was happening, and was only in contact with us after we initiated communication. Ugh.

So after four days of no hot water and even more days walking around on a soggy, soaking wet carpet, a new hot water heater has been installed, the carpet has been ripped out, and the floors are drying.

The hallway after carpet removal. So much water was on the floor.
My bedroom after the carpet removal. The dark spots are marks on the concrete and not mold.

It is from this place that I write. After the challenges at move-in, I was planning to write a post entitled, “The True Cost of Cheap Rent,” however, that has taken a backseat to this past week’s ordeals. That post, along with several others as I approach my second blogging anniversary, will happen in July.

I’m moving out…


I know. Hear me out.

Exactly one week ago, I signed a lease for a house share in the city. I imagine this is shocking to you all as I have stated more than once (1, 2, 3…) my intention to continue living with my parents through the end of the year, when I expected to know more about my status in the medical school application process. However, after time spent on the road with my best friend (more on that later), I realized I very much missed independent living. For this reason, I dipped my toe back into the rental market and found a house share I thought would be a good fit for me and hoped the Pennyfolk would approve. So, onto the questions…

When are you leaving home again? – My lease begins on June 1st (although I am hoping to move in Memorial Day weekend) and goes through May 31st of next year. If I get accepted to medical school in my current city, then I would consider staying put if my landlord is agreeable (she lives abroad). If I get accepted to medical school elsewhere, then my lease would be end and I would move for school. If I don’t get accepted to medical school, I can extend my lease and consider the next life steps.

How much is your rent? – $550.00!

What does that include? – EVERYTHING! The rent includes all utilities and parking in the subdivision.

What is the deal? – One of the perks of working at a university is that at larger universities in larger cities, there are often off-campus housing boards on which only people with a direct association to the university (student, staff, faculty, etc.) may post. My new landlord bought the house while a postdoc at the university but took a job abroad after school. While she could rent it for significantly more or sell it, for now her goal is just to keep it rented consistently so she doesn’t have to spend time looking for tenants and to cover her mortgage.

Where are you living? Is it safe? – It’s actually in a much nicer area of the city than where I was previously living. I will be sharing a tri-level townhouse (Northeastern folks would recognize it as a “rowhouse”) with two university graduate students. The person I am replacing in the home was a medical student at the university where I work. The photo above is essentially what the house looks like and how it is set up. On the first level of the home, which is what I am renting, there is only my bedroom and bathroom. The next level has the living area including the kitchen, living room, and laundry. The top floor has two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom.

While my future housemates seem like lovely people, I love the fact that I will be living on the bottom level alone.

Is this really better than staying with your parents? – Yes and no. My parents were lovely and I was staying at their home for free. While my rent is super cheaper it’s still more than free. However, I will begin class again in late May and the drive from my parents house to campus is an hour and a half each way. And, as my employer expects me to be back on campus in mid-July, I was also dreading the hour commute from my parents home to work in traffic.

Beyond that, I had slowly come to miss my independence in a lot of ways that it is difficult to articulate.

What does this mean for your goals and budget? – Not as much as I thought it would. Certainly not as much in the short term as this month’s long roadtrip I am on with my best friend. I will do a deep dive into the numbers later this month with an updated June budget. But that is for another post…

Thoughts…Shocking? Disappointed? A huge mistake? Not surprised at all?