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The art of letting go: A guide to moving after graduating from medical school

With careful planning and organization, this transition can be made less hectic.


Moving after graduating from medical school is a momentous life event that can bring about both excitement and stress. While this move signifies the beginning of a new chapter in one’s career and personal life, the details of adjusting to a new environment can be overwhelming. However, with careful planning and organization, this transition can be made less hectic.

To prepare this guide, I drew from my personal experience with moving and also scoured the internet for the best tips and tricks to make this transition to a new chapter as smooth as possible.

Preparation mode: Two months before

Once you’ve learned where you will be moving, it’s time to get organized. The first step is to decide whether you will move yourself or splurge on hiring a moving service. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option, such as cost and convenience. If you decide to do it yourself, start collecting supplies like moving boxes of various sizes, bubble wrap and shipping tape.

You can even ask your local grocery and retail stores if they have boxes to spare. This is also a good time to compare self-moving options like renting a truck, pod-like container or the various possible U-Haul options.

The next step is to downsize your belongings. If you’ve accumulated items over the past few years of medical school, now is the time to let go of things you no longer need. As you begin to sort through your belongings, a helpful tip is to separate items into three piles: keep, donate and trash. Consider selling clothes in good condition to a second-hand clothing store or schedule a free pickup with your local thrift store for furniture and household items that you’re ready to part with.

If you have already secured a new place to call home, be sure to complete a change of address form with the post office as well, and update your address with your bank, insurance, credit cards and other important contacts. If you have children or pets, make sure to plan their travel as well, especially if you’ll be renting—some rentals have specific guidelines regarding housing pets. This will all help ease some of the stress as it gets closer to moving time.

Getting closer: One month before

To help make this transition more efficient, start packing items that won’t be used within the next month, such as out-of-season clothes, serving dishes and books. Important labels to place on boxes include “not going,” “load last” and “fragile.” A helpful tip is to also label each box with the room it will go in to make unpacking easier.

With about four weeks left until the move, it’s important to ensure that utilities, Wi-Fi and other necessary services are scheduled to either be disconnected or transferred to the new home. If any services are being disconnected, ensure that new ones will be connected by the time you move. This is also a good time to meal plan and use up perishable items in the fridge to minimize food waste and lighten the load of things to move.

Crunch time: What to do the week of the move

One week before the big move, there are several other important tasks to take care of. First, make sure to confirm the date and time with your moving service or any friends or family who have offered to help. This will help avoid any confusion or last-minute changes.

If you haven’t already, consider hiring a cleaning service for the home you’re departing from or plan to tackle the cleaning yourself. This is especially important if you are renting, as it can save you from getting charged any extra fees or losing your security deposit. To make moving day as stress-free as possible, pack a suitcase with all the essentials you’ll need for the day—this may include a change of clothes, toiletries, medications, towels, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, electronic chargers, important documents, cash and any valuable items. Doing this will ensure that no matter how much unpacking you complete on day one, you’ll at least be prepared with some essentials.

The day before is a critical time to tie up any loose ends and ensure everything is well-prepared for the big day. Take some time to go through your checklist to ensure you haven’t missed any important details. Make sure to defrost your freezer and clean out your fridge. This is also a good time to throw out any garbage you have left and make your last trip to the donation drop-off.

Lastly, stay hydrated and get a good night’s sleep so you can wake up feeling energized for the big day ahead.

The big day

The day has finally arrived and it’s time to put your plans into action. Start by waking up early and having a good breakfast to give you the energy for the long day ahead. Double-check that you have everything you need for the move, including your suitcase with day-of essentials. Take a final walkthrough of your current place to ensure everything is packed and nothing is left behind (don’t forget to check closets, drawers and cabinets).

Use the labels you originally put on the boxes to guide you as you pack the moving truck or direct your movers to pack. Keep any fragile or important items with you. With everything in order, bid farewell to your old place and set off for your next chapter.

After you move

The transition after moving can be daunting, but there are many ways to make it easier. One way is to use social media to connect with locals. You can search your platforms and event websites for local businesses and community activities and join online groups. This can help you get a feel for a new city before even leaving your home. Additionally, supporting small businesses can help you feel more connected to the community.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to attend local events such as festivals, farmers markets and concerts alone. This is a great way to meet new people and experience the unique culture of your new home. Moving after graduating from medical school can bring a mix of emotions, but with proper planning and organization, it can be done smoothly. Embracing change and the excitement of a new chapter will make moving quite the adventure.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

The complexity of transitioning from medical school to residency

Weighing your options: Should you pursue a research year?


  1. Marcos Gemoets

    Helpful reminders to put things in perspective and a thoughtful discussion that will help others with their transition. Enjoyed the read.

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