How to find comfortable and affordable medical school housing is a top concern for new med students looking to get settled into their new campus life. Due to the steep medical school tuition rates, most students are already looking at enormous debt when they graduate from med school. Hence, their priority is to keep the rest of their medical school costs as low as possible by finding cheap medical school housing that suits their needs. Many medical schools offer affordable housing options to help out their new med students.
In this blog, we will list all the different types of medical school housing options for students and explain how you can choose the right type of housing for you. We’ll also go over the cheapest medical school housing options in the US and Canada.
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For med students, finding good medical school housing is an important part of a successful med school tenure. The four years of medical school are already rigorous and challenging enough without any additional sources of stress. That’s why it’s important for a med student to have a comfortable, convenient place to call home during this period.
At the same time, financial planning is another big concern for med students. According to a recent AAMC report, 73% of all medical students in the US graduate with debt. What’s more, the average graduating debt for a med student in the US is $200,000. While tuition comprises a huge chunk of that debt, living costs, such as rent, also contribute to it. Even students enrolled in the cheapest medical schools, who might be paying less towards tuition, still need to shell out for utilities, supplies, textbooks, transport, and of course, housing.
The average annual cost of rent for a medical student is $13,800. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what you’ll pay. A lot of factors influence the cost of medical school housing, beginning with the type of housing you opt for.
Are you looking for more information on medical school tuition and additional costs of medical school, check out this video:
Types of Medical School Housing
Med students have a few different medical school housing options they can choose from, and we’ve listed the different options below.
Remember that not all schools offer all these options. Check the housing or accommodation page on med school websites to find out more about what kind of housing they offer.
While a lot of medical schools offer university-owned housing options for their students, the cost of rent, availability, and location varies from school to school. Generally speaking, medical schools in big cities tend to have a lot of university-owned housing options for their students. This is mainly because the cost of living is usually expensive in urban areas and students often have great difficulty finding appropriate housing close to campus.
There are two types of university-owned housing options:
A lot of medical students chose to opt out of university housing or dorms and arrange for their own accommodation off campus. This could be due to a number of reasons. For example, local students may already have living arrangements that they are comfortable with. Students with families may not want to disrupt their family member’s lives by moving. On the other hand, if the medical schools don’t offer any housing options, then students don’t have any option but to seek out private accommodation.
Most med students opt for modest accommodations such as studio apartments or small one-bedroom apartments, so they can save money during med school. If you’re really trying to save money on rent, you can opt to share an apartment with roommates. In fact, with some strategic planning, this option could work out cheaper than subsidized university housing, especially in small towns or rural areas where the local rents are more affordable.
There are many online resources such as real estate or rental sites/forums that are specifically designed for med students to find housing. If you’re looking for private accommodation near your med school, you should utilize these resources to make the search easier. Many students use these portals especially during their 3rd and 4th year when they might need multiple short-term rentals near the locations of their clinical rotations.
Check out our infographic for more:
Choosing the Right Med School Housing for You
So, how do you decide which medical school housing is right for you? Well, the first step is to spend some time researching your med school to find all the housing options they offer. Once you know what options are available for you, consider the following:
Size and type
The first thing you should consider when looking for housing is your own personal requirements regarding the size and type of housing you want to live in, as well as living conditions that cannot be negotiated. For instance, mature students who have been living independently for a while would find it a huge adjustment to live in a tiny dorm room and share space with a room-mate! On the other hand, students with families and kids would need an apartment or house that can accommodate their family members and is convenient in terms of schools, day care centers, their partner’s work commute, etc. Or maybe, you’re an out-of-state student wanting to make some friends and build a support system of fellow students, so you actually prefer having roommates. Figure out what your requirements are and eliminate the options that don’t work for you. While it’s true that medical students cannot afford to live a lavish lifestyle, it’s still important to be cognizant of your own needs and make a choice that ensures your future health and happiness.
Distance from campus
You should also consider how important it is for you to stay on or very near to campus. There are a few things to keep in mind here. First, remember that on campus housing or an apartment near the school would be the convenient option for the first two years of medical school, when you have to spend most of your time on campus. What with the rigorous class schedule, your own self-study schedule, extracurriculars, service projects, and all the other med school commitments, you really won’t have any time to spare. Students who live on campus definitely appreciate not having to waste time on a lengthy daily commute. Also, transportation costs money. Whether you’re using public transport or your own vehicle, you’ll have to add that daily transportation cost to your med school budget.
Based on the above factors, you might be thinking that maybe staying on the medical school campus is the way to go. Well, in fact, many students purposefully elect to find off-campus accommodation, simply because they do not want to get too caught up in the “med school bubble”. Med school can get extremely stressful, and some students prefer to have a network outside of it where they can relax and unwind. Having an off-campus accommodation gives you that necessary break from your hectic med school schedule so you can relax with friends and family that have nothing to do with your on-campus life!
However, even if you opt for off-campus housing for this reason, try to choose a place as close to the campus as possible, just so you can save yourself the hassle and added cost of a long commute time.
It’s understandable that medical students, already saddled with huge tuition costs, would seek out affordable housing that can help them save money through medical school. You should definitely consider what your own budget is and compare it with the rent you’d have to pay for the various medical school housing options before you make the final decision. Remember that most medical school loans, private or federal, provide funds to cover the costs of living including rent, along with paying for tuition and school fees. After calculating the amount of tuition you’re paying, the cost of living for the region you’re studying in, and the amount of your loan, you might not have much left over to cover rent and most likely, you’ll be able to afford a modest apartment at best. That’s okay – medical school is a time for study and preparation for the future, and a few sacrifices in the present can set you up for future success and happiness.
Many students compare the overall cost of attending different medical schools before deciding which schools to apply to. As mentioned earlier, tuition constitutes the biggest expenditure for med school and that’s the factor foremost in students’ minds as they consider medical school costs. For instance, Texas residents might prioritize medical schools in Texas since they offer some of the cheapest medical school tuitions in the US for in-state students. Along with tuition, students should also consider the cost of living at the medical school campus, and that includes the cost of rent and utilities. Having a comprehensive picture of your future expenses is always a good idea as it can help you plan for your future better.
Cheapest Medical School Housing in US and Canada
The cost of medical school housing depends on a number of factors. While the general perception students have is that elite universities such as Ivy League medical schools are the most expensive and state schools such as the UC schools are cheaper, there are many other influencing factors that can determine the cost of your medical school housing.
Here are some types of medical schools that offer the most low-cost housing options for med students.
Schools in small towns, rural, or remote areas
Generally speaking, medical school housing for schools situated in small towns and rural areas is cheaper than in urban areas. In fact, big cities, such as New York, Boston, Chicago, LA, Toronto, and Vancouver, have some of the most expensive real estate in the world and that will definitely be reflected in the cost of renting student accommodation here. Some schools, such as the David Geffen UCLA Medical School, offer subsidized rent for their student housing. But the catch is that even these subsidized rates are still expensive compared to the regular rates you might pay in other parts of the country.
For instance, the rent for UCLA’s subsidized apartments range from $954 - $2700 per month, depending on the size and style of the apartment, with the cheapest options only available for shared apartments. In Nashville, Tennessee, home to Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (which does not offer subsidized housing), you’ll find one-bedroom apartments for rent in the range of $1000 to $1300 per month, or even lower if you’re willing to share with roommates.
So, when it comes to medical school housing costs, it’s not just about subsidized rent – location also matters. Having said that, subsidized rent can actually help to significantly bring down the cost of medical school. At the end of the day, if you’re decided which school you want to attend, you can’t let financial concerns be the sole reason you reject it. Most schools located in the expensive big cities are conscious about not wanting to place a large financial burden on their students and hence offer a variety of subsidized housing options, including several smaller sized or shared accommodations that could suit your budget.
If you’re counting on subsidized university housing, remember that this is usually quite limited for graduate and professional program students, and if you leave your housing application for the last minute, you may miss out on your spot. In that case, you’ll either have to pay full market price rent to live in housing close to campus or opt for cheaper accommodation that comes with a longer commute.
Schools in specific geographic regions
Apart from the rural/urban factor, the actual geographic location also matters. In general, the mid-west and certain areas of the south of the USA have lower costs of living as compared to areas in the east and north-east. In Canada, Ontario and British Columbia are expensive provinces to live in, as compared to Nova Scotia and Quebec. For instance, students at the University of Montreal Medical School pay between 400 to 800 CAD per month for their housing, depending on the apartment type, while students at the University of Toronto Medical School in Ontario pay around CAD 1200 per month.
Military medical schools
Military schools subsidize not only education but also rent and other costs of living for their med students. There are several different programs you can apply to – the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP), Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), and Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program (MDSSP) in the US and the Medical Officer Training Plan in Canada. All these programs cover not only the cost of tuition for medical school, but also provide a stipend or salary to cover the rent, utilities, and various miscellaneous costs. What’s more, the housing allowance is usually tax free as well. For instance, at the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, the students (who are all commissioned military officers) receive approximately $25,000 as tax-free housing allowance per year. If students avail of government housing, the stipend may be reduced since government housing is typically very low-cost.
The prospect of graduating from med school with no debts and maybe even some savings in the bank is what attracts many students to the military. However, this is not a decision to be taken lightly or solely for financial reasons. Remember that military doctors receive all these benefits and tuition-aid in return for signing up for several years of active service duty after residency. A career in the military is a serious, long-term commitment. You’ll be expected to take up not only the responsibilities of the medical profession but also the duties of a military officer. So, make sure you consider all the pros and cons of this career before you opt for it.
If you are interested in the cheapest medical school housing, you might also be interested in the cheapest medical schools:
Other factors to consider
Many medical school scholarships and grants will not only cover the costs of medical school, but also provide a stipend for rent. “Full-ride” scholarships are the most coveted and also the most competitive scholarships, and many of these are specific to one medical school, state, or region. For instance, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine offers the “Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program” that covers tuition and provides a monthly stipend of $2000. Other schools that provide multiple full-ride scholarships for students include Emory School of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, and David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine.
Remember that many of these scholarships come with specific application criteria, which could range from applicants’ residency status, socio-economic or cultural background, and gender, to their choice of future medical specialties or their commitment to community service or a specific cause. Make sure you research your eligibility and the application requirements before you apply.
Where you live in medical school could end up being a major determinant of your mental health. You don’t need your home to be yet another source of stress during those hectic med school years. So, make sure you consider all the relevant factors and do your research about all available options, before making that final decision about where to live.
1. Do medical schools have dorms on campus?
Yes, some medical schools do have dorms on campus. Some examples include:
- Columbia Medical School
- Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Harvard Medical School
However, the above schools are the exception rather than the rule. Not a lot of medical schools have on-campus dorms. Many schools choose to offer med students graduate housing rather than dorm rooms. The housing could be apartments (shared or single) or houses that are located either on or off campus.
2. What kind of housing options do med schools offer?
Medical school housing options include dorms or university-owned accommodation (apartments or houses). Some medical schools also offer subsidized rent for students, for both on-campus and off-campus housing options.
Note that not all med schools offer housing for their students. At these schools, med students are expected to find their own private accommodation.
3. Where should I live as a med student?
Before you decide where to live during your med school years, first research the housing options provided by your med school. Next, consider whether or not you want to live on campus, what size and type of accommodation you’re comfortable with, and what is your maximum budget for rent. Based on these factors, evaluate if dorm rooms, university-owned apartments, or private apartments are best suited to your needs.
4. What’s the cheapest medical school housing option for students?
The answer to this question depends on the medical school in question, the area it is located in, and numerous other factors. Generally speaking, dorm rooms are the cheapest medical school housing option, though they aren’t available at many med school campuses and generally fill up very quickly. University-owned housing could also be relatively cheap, especially when schools chose to subsidize rent for students. Students that opt for private accommodation have to pay rent as per the market rates, which could end up being quite expensive, especially if they’re living in the prime areas near the campus. That’s why many students chose to save money by renting cheaper accommodation at some distance from the med school campus and commuting every day.
5. Which medical schools offer cheap housing for students?
If you’re looking for medical schools with cheap housing for students, the key is to select schools in areas with a low cost of living. For example, urban areas and specific geographic regions such as the east coast of the US, generally have a higher cost of living, and that includes expensive housing. But remember that in order to off-set these costs, many medical schools in these areas offer housing at subsidized rates for the benefit of their students.
You can also consider becoming a military doctor as military medical programs provide students with cheap government housing as well as a stipend to cover the cost of rent.
6. What’s the average cost of rent for a medical student?
The average annual cost of rent for a medical student is $13,800.
7. As a med student, how can I pay for housing?
First of all, remember that most medical school loans, both federal and private, include the cost of rent, utilities, and other such expenses as part of their loan. Additionally, many medical schools offer subsidized rents for their housing options to reduce the financial pressure on students, so you won’t find it too hard to find affordable housing. Of course, med students should expect to live a modest lifestyle and have to prioritize staying within a strict budget so as to minimize their expenses and reduce their already large med school debt. Finally, you can always apply for scholarships and grants that provide a stipend for rent to help you pay for your housing.
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