Moving on from one step of your professional life to the next is exciting! You’re going forward, pursuing your passion, hopefully at an institution you like. There is invariably downtime between positions and there are important Work and Life details you need to take care of. We are in the middle of a move as I write this, which is both exciting and scary. Here are some suggestions to help you make these transitions less scary, specifically with regards to Time, Housing, Moving, Insurance, and Licenses.
Between undergrad and vet school you have at least a whole summer, between vet school and internship at least a month and possibly more, between internship and residency a couple of weeks or more, and between residency and faculty position as much or as little time as you like.
Between undergrad and vet school, work or travel. There’s not much point in trying to prepare- that’s what vet school is for.
Between vet school and internship, travel or, if they’ll have you, stay on at the institution from which you graduated. I spent an additional 3 weeks after graduation hanging around the surgery service acting as a super senior or a junior intern, depending on your perspective. It was a great experience and helped prepare me for my role as an intern.
Between internship and residency, study. The more you know about your discipline before you start, the better off you will be. Of course, they’ll teach you what you need to know during your program, but the faster you get up to speed, the more you will learn. I read the Vet Clinics of North America issue on anesthesia as well as Physiology and Pharmacology in Anesthetic Practice and it was tremendously helpful.
Between residency and faculty, travel. You already know enough to be an entry-level specialist, and you can’t do any meaningful work in the amount of time you have. You will rarely be so unencumbered as you are once you finish your residency. I have never been able to travel between positions and I wish that I had.
Once you know where you are going, you need to secure housing. This can be challenging in some college towns. For example, in Athens Georgia, if you don’t have a place secured by April, you will be getting the scraps, and people who want the best places secure their lease in February. In contrast, in Phoenix, you can show up whenever and get almost any apartment you want. I encourage you to live within walking distance of the institution if at all possible. If you can also walk to the market and the pub, all the better. I like using Google maps, Apartments.com, and Zillow to find places which would be a good fit.
Hopefully, the lease of your current place is ending close to when you will be moving. If you need an extra week or two, you can always ask your landlord. In some place, such as Athens, this will be problematic- almost every lease turns over July 31st- but you can at least ask. If you need to leave your lease early, notify them as soon as possible and just pay the fee. In the best-case scenario, your current lease ends the day after you pack everything up and move out.
Use this opportunity to REDUCE YOUR SHIT. I am really serious about this. I showed up for my residency with two duffle bags and that is it. When we left Athens, we gave away almost everything in our 2400-square foot house and it was WONDERFUL. I assure you, your life will be so much better with less stuff. Particularly when you go to an internship- it’s only for a year. Do you really want to be schlepping all of this stuff all over the country? No. Get rid of it. Donate it to friends, charity, or sell it on Craigslist. You may NOT rent a storage unit because that is the height of ridiculousness.
Once you have less stuff, you have two general options for moving: DIY, hire help, or a combination of the two. I have never heard a story of hiring a company to move things which ends well. So, in general, I would advise not hiring a moving company to do everything. Instead, I recommend you load, ship, and unload with separate entities. To load/unload your shipping device, you can get friends to help or hire local movers. We have had great success hiring local movers- they are relatively inexpensive, fast, and professional.
For shipping, you can rent your own truck (like a U-Haul and other competitors) or a device which someone else drives (PODS or U-Pack). After driving a U-Haul for 2000 miles along I-40, I decided my life was worth more than I was saving by driving myself. Plus the gas cost was incredible. Hiring U-Pack was about the same price as renting a U-Haul for a one-way trip, and is much less stressful.
What happens if you get into a car accident when driving to your new home? What if something catastrophic happens to your stuff in transit? How do you handle renter’s insurance? Do you have to re-insure your car in your new state?
Let’s start with health insurance. You should check with your current position when your coverage ends. Is it your last day or the end of the month? In any event, you should have an option to enroll in COBRA, which allows you to extend coverage. This extension should be enough time to cover you until your next position coverage starts. If you can’t get COBRA, you may need to research individual coverage for the gap time.
Stuff insurance. Why do you even have this? Do you own something besides a house or car worth more than $1000? Why? You already downsized your stuff, so you shouldn’t need insurance for it. If it all goes up in a fireball, that would be sad but not catastrophic. You can pack any small, expensive items (instruments, computer, guns, etc.) in the car you personally drive.
Renter’s insurance is straight up absurd. Why the hell should the apartment owners care if we have insurance to cover our very own stuff? I’m not going to sue them if I get broken into. I wish I could opt out of this, but, unfortunately, in a lot of towns, this is required. It is relatively inexpensive so if you need to cave, find the cheapest policy that satisfies the rental company. Alternatively, several times now I have convinced the rental companies that my umbrella liability policy is sufficient. I strongly recommend umbrella insurance for everyone so, if you have it, you may not need separate renter’s insurance.
Car insurance coverage is generally dependent on the zip code where the car is garaged. Obviously, the insurance company doesn’t know when you move. But, if you get into an accident, they may make a fuss about it. I would recommend talking to your insurance company/agent about this when you are researching moving.
You will need a license to practice veterinary medicine wherever you go after graduation. Some states have arrangements where you can get a ‘faculty license’, which has pretty minimal requirements for someone working at a university. Many places have a single point person to help facilitate this. Figure out the license situation before you leave for your new position.
There are a lot of complex parts involved in moving to a new position. To keep it simple, follow these rules: reduce your stuff, make a plan ahead of time, don’t leave anything to the last minute. The sooner you figure things out, the less stressful the actual move will be.