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Commuting or living downtown?


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Hello fellow premed/meds

I've been lucky to get accepted to U of T and I am so so grateful and looking forward to it!

I was wondering if current med students can help me out with this one dilemma I have.

when i got accepted, I thought I would for sure move downtown closer to campus. I currently live in Mississauga and it takes me 1 hour and 15 mins (sometimes even longer in the winter; I do not own a car and do not want to get one soon) to get to the downtown campus. However, my parents are trying to dissuade me from moving out because the cost of living on my own downtown would be > $10 000. Given that medschool already costs a great amount of money, my parents are saying living at home would decrease the amount of debt I will have, especially since I would also have to pay the interest rates.

 

My question is: if you commuted to the downtown campus similarly to my case above, what did you think of it? would you do it again? do you think the money saved was worth the commute? did you feel you missed out on somethings because of it? how did you manage your time to study and still be involved in activities given that the first year curriculum is quite intensive?

 

If you didn't commute, do you think you could have still done well if you did?

 

Any thoughts would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

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I will also be starting U of T in the fall and I plan to live at home to save some $$. However, I am lucky enough to live in Toronto proper (on the subway line!) so my commute is only half an hour, including walking time. Seeing as many people live 20 mins from campus, I'm assuming I won't be at much of a disadvantage. Obviously I'll be at a bit of a social disadvantage, but hopefully it won't be too bad.

 

My suggestion is that if you really want to save money, start off at home. You can always move downtown later if you find that it's too hard. No one can tell you how you will find it- you have to wait and see for yourself. Don't worry too much about how it will impact your performance. Now that U of T switched to pass/fail, you should probably be fine. Remember- whe you commute you have the designated commute time to study/sleep. Personally, I get a lot done on the subway and my commute is only 15 mins!

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A number of 1T2's who commuted from home have decided to move downtown. Conversely, one student who lived downtown will be moving back home, but has arranged to have "live-in" privileges with friends so that they have a place to stay on nights before exams.

 

I think the choice partly depends on you. Have you had to commute for school or work in the past? How did you handle it? Did you find that commuting prevented your from taking up extra-curricular activities at school? Do you have a threshold rent you are willing to pay before you consider it too much to be worth it?

 

It's definitely an easier commute if you're along the subway line. Also keep in mind that you will have 8 AM classes.

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ontariostudent: I am lucky enough to live in Toronto proper (on the subway line!) so my commute is only half an hour, including walking time. Seeing as many people live 20 mins from campus

 

You are really lucky. I wish I lived closer but there is nothing I can do about that.

 

drduiib: I think the choice partly depends on you. Have you had to commute for school or work in the past? How did you handle it? Did you find that commuting prevented your from taking up extra-curricular activities at school? Do you have a threshold rent you are willing to pay before you consider it too much to be worth it?

 

I did commute to the St. George campus on my first year of undergrad. It was fine for the most part (in terms of marks) but I was really tired when I had to wake up early for classes, and I did feel I missed out on extra curriculars and social events. And I HATED commuting in the winter because it took even longer. I ended up transferring to the Mississauga campus (which is a 15min bus drive; 7min car drive from my house) because of the commute, and I was much more relaxed and I had more time to socialize and join extra curriculars.

 

I honestly really want to move downtown. I just don't know if the less hassle coming from living downtown is worth the $10000/year. It seems renting a bachelor's apartment costs about $1000 inc utilities. I will research places as much as possible, but I know this is probably about the cheapest I can find, in terms of bachelor apartments (No I don't want to live in a house with roommates :)).

 

Again, any thoughts would be highly appreciated!

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My suggestion is that if you really want to save money, start off at home. You can always move downtown later if you find that it's too hard. No one can tell you how you will find it- you have to wait and see for yourself.

 

As sensible as this advice is, I take the opposite view. $10,000/year adds up quickly and your parents, quite naturally, are looking at the big picture "from their point of view". On the other hand, you too are looking at the big picture, but from "your point of view".

 

You have come a long way to get to this point. You really don't need the hassle of long trips in winter, making the 8 AM classes, being tired, this will affect your ability to absorb the massive amount of material needed and you will inevitably feel the burden of the long commute day after day after day. I am not even considering the social aspect.

 

A studio apt in downtown TO cost last year for a year lease $1,210/mo [Jazz owned by Concert Realty, I think on Church St], they usually have a waiting list. A shared flat for 2, 15 minute commute, will cost you $600/mo plus utilities..but you need to find a rommie and search together.

 

I encourage you to move to TO for your first year. Even consider a student dorm room. Do it for the first year and see if you want to stay. Do not risk not doing your best at this stage of the game and attending to school while searching for a place to live once you start soon. $10,000 is an affordable expense (for one year) over your lifetime. You can finance it yourself with a professional student loan at prime, 2.5%? Do not risk your physical and mental strength. Do NOT listen to your parents. With great respect, it is your life, you need to do what you need to do, and if they will absorb it without a loan, let them know you will pay them back; otherwise get your own loan, you don't need them to cosign. And if on reflection, after a year, you decide you can comfortably return home and be happy and productive, fine, if not, continue in TO. This is just too important.

 

As a physician, you will be making life and death decisions in less time than it is taking me to type this reply. You have thought it out, you don't need any of us to tell you what to do, for what it is worth, I reaffirm that your opinion is the only one to follow and I agree with what you want to do and for all your reasons.

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As sensible as this advice is, I take the opposite view. $10,000/year adds up quickly and your parents, quite naturally, are looking at the big picture "from their point of view". On the other hand, you too are looking at the big picture, but from "your point of view".

 

You have come a long way to get to this point. You really don't need the hassle of long trips in winter, making the 8 AM classes, being tired, this will affect your ability to absorb the massive amount of material needed and you will inevitably feel the burden of the long commute day after day after day. I am not even considering the social aspect.

 

A studio apt in downtown TO cost last year for a year lease $1,210/mo [Jazz owned by Concert Realty, I think on Church St], they usually have a waiting list. A shared flat for 2, 15 minute commute, will cost you $600/mo plus utilities..but you need to find a rommie and search together.

 

I encourage you to move to TO for your first year. Even consider a student dorm room. Do it for the first year and see if you want to stay. Do not risk not doing your best at this stage of the game and attending to school while searching for a place to live once you start soon. $10,000 is an affordable expense (for one year) over your lifetime. You can finance it yourself with a professional student loan at prime, 2.5%? Do not risk your physical and mental strength. Do NOT listen to your parents. With great respect, it is your life, you need to do what you need to do, and if they will absorb it without a loan, let them know you will pay them back; otherwise get your own loan, you don't need them to cosign. And if on reflection, after a year, you decide you can comfortably return home and be happy and productive, fine, if not, continue in TO. This is just too important.

 

As a physician, you will be making life and death decisions in less time than it is taking me to type this reply. You have thought it out, you don't need any of us to tell you what to do, for what it is worth, I reaffirm that your opinion is the only one to follow and I agree with what you want to do and for all your reasons.

 

LOL, "futuredoc". If that is your logic, this forum would be useless! Other posters (and yourself) should "just figure it out on their own". Lol

However to the OP, I understand your situation (as well as your parents). I would strongly recommend moving downtown. As a physician, you will have more than enough to pay off your loans relatively quickly. Also moving downtown will facilitate you to take on a wide range of activities. Also futuredoc's example of Jazz is not a good one. The prices vary widely, and one can find a great place for $600-$800. Good luck, let us know the verdict!

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OP, I think you've heard enough reasons for moving downtown. There aren't any better ones. It sounds like right now your big barrier against living downtown is the price.

 

Someone has already said that the average price for a bachelor's condo on Bay Street is $1200, which is $300-400 less than a 1 bedroom place. You can find 1 bedroom basement places for ~$800 downtown. They would be near College and Bathurst, a 15 min walk from MSB, but if price is a big issue and you absolutely have to live alone, that's your best bet. If you don't like the basement or living 15 min away from campus and hospitals, well then tough luck, really can't live alone in a nice condo close to school without paying a high price; you'll have to decide what you need the most.

 

If you're interested in the aforementioned $800 basement 1-bdrm place, PM me and I'll give you the details.

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Unless you live within easy TTC access (eg. on a subway line), I would recommend moving downtown. It's not worth it. There are ways to save even if you're living downtown. You can live in residence ($800/month?) or you can room with other people, which can work out to fairly reasonable costs. I know a couple people who lived in Mississauga during first year and they basically skipped class all the time because the commute wasn't worth it...that's not the best for your eduction.

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OP - have you decided yet?

 

It seems the barriers for you are mainly parents and price. As others have mentioned, having roommates can really decrease the price. Sorry, I don't have an effective or quick remedy for parents :P

 

Your situation can always be reassessed after beginning school.

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I'll throw in a commuter's viewpoint. I commuted throughout med school and first year residency, from the 905 too. Not a huge deal. I spent a lot of time after class in the library, which let the traffic die down. Also had a chance to attend a lot of the class functions. Much easier if you have a car, but do-able with TTC alone. Saved A LOT of money, over $50,000 plus the interest that would have accrued, which made up the down payment on the condo I bought during residency. Looking back, with the time that I would have saved not commuting, I probably wouldn't have studied any more (being in the library forced me to study, and with fewer distractions) nor would I have partied any more (I got out plenty during med school). It's not a bad option.

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Monaco: OP - have you decided yet?

No. I keep going back and forth. The parents are not an issue at all. They simply gave me a reality check and they'd be fine with whatever I choose.

The problem is *money*.

 

The only reason I would be moving downtown is the distance and time commuting will take. Let me break it down:

 

Commuting from home: 2 hours/day; cost for four years (inc gas and insurance): ~$25,000

Commuting from close to campus: 30mins/day; cooking: 30mins/day; cost for four years: ~$60,000

 

I would be saving at least $35,000.

 

I really need to know what the class schedule/timetable is like for first year-- will the 1 hour a day commuting hinder my studies/social life?

 

As you can tell... I keep going back and forth... I began searching for a place but I couldn't make a decision yet.

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No. I keep going back and forth. The parents are not an issue at all. They simply gave me a reality check and they'd be fine with whatever I choose.

The problem is *money*.

 

The only reason I would be moving downtown is the distance and time commuting will take. Let me break it down:

 

 

You can always change from commuting to living downtown during first year or afterward. As mentioned before, the biggest way to reduce your cost-of-living for downtown is to acquire roommate(s). Perhaps you can consider this for second year.

 

Depending on your lifestyle, I know people who live comfortably for about or under $1000/month in downtown Toronto including all expenses. However some concessions have to be made: no car, roommate(s), low rent maybe in an older building with less amenities, etc. I know you said you didn't want roommates though, so it is going to cost you for a bachelor/one bedroom.

 

You mentioned that you did not like commuting in undergrad. I did not go to U of T, but my undergrad schedule was a breeze, with later start times on some days and breaks during the day, when compared to medical school (assuming you go to all the classes). For me, the pre-clerkship schedule was very tiring and time-consuming even without commuting.

 

Some people commute for all 4 years. Some move downtown only after 1st year or after 2nd year for clerkship. There are also monetary and non-monetary benefits to living at home with your family. Some people are used to commuting, and work to ensure their studies and social life do not suffer. It can be done and done well - you just have to make sure this is you! And remember, you can always change things if you are not happy with the situation.

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Good augments either side. When faced with a question that neither Google nor premed101 could solve, why not just do the experiment?

 

Live one year at home then live the next year near school (or vice versa), before deciding.

 

That way, you risk only losing $15,000 of the potential $60,000 in savings.

 

Bonus points if you can recruit 10 other med students to do the same thing and quantify the perimeters (ie. financial/social outcomes). Maybe you can even get it published somewhere.:)

 

Personally, my theory is that you can always make more money, but it's much harder to make more time. But then again, as my friends tell me, I am just old, bitter and poor. :)

 

 

 

 

 

No. I keep going back and forth. The parents are not an issue at all. They simply gave me a reality check and they'd be fine with whatever I choose.

The problem is *money*.

 

The only reason I would be moving downtown is the distance and time commuting will take. Let me break it down:

 

Commuting from home: 2 hours/day; cost for four years (inc gas and insurance): ~$25,000

Commuting from close to campus: 30mins/day; cooking: 30mins/day; cost for four years: ~$60,000

 

I would be saving at least $35,000.

 

I really need to know what the class schedule/timetable is like for first year-- will the 1 hour a day commuting hinder my studies/social life?

 

As you can tell... I keep going back and forth... I began searching for a place but I couldn't make a decision yet.

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why not just do the experiment?

 

Live one year at home then live the next year near school (or vice versa), before deciding.

That way, you risk only losing $15,000 of the potential $60,000 in savings.

 

Personally, my theory is that you can always make more money, but it's much harder to make more time.

 

:P (10 characters)

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  • 4 weeks later...
I'll throw in a commuter's viewpoint. I commuted throughout med school and first year residency, from the 905 too. Not a huge deal. I spent a lot of time after class in the library, which let the traffic die down. Also had a chance to attend a lot of the class functions. Much easier if you have a car, but do-able with TTC alone. Saved A LOT of money, over $50,000 plus the interest that would have accrued, which made up the down payment on the condo I bought during residency. Looking back, with the time that I would have saved not commuting, I probably wouldn't have studied any more (being in the library forced me to study, and with fewer distractions) nor would I have partied any more (I got out plenty during med school). It's not a bad option.

 

From what I hear, first year is demanding. How did you handle the time lost during the commute while not having your learning suffer? I know it's pass/fail, but my aim is not the marks but to become the best doctor I can be.

 

You can always change from commuting to living downtown during first year or afterward.

yah it looks like I'm going to commute for now. If I feel uncomfortable with it- probably gonna happen during the winter-- I'll move dt then.

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From what I hear, first year is demanding. How did you handle the time lost during the commute while not having your learning suffer? I know it's pass/fail, but my aim is not the marks but to become the best doctor I can be.

 

 

yah it looks like I'm going to commute for now. If I feel uncomfortable with it- probably gonna happen during the winter-- I'll move dt then.

 

 

First year isn't so demanding that the time lost to commute is going to impact your study time. If you use your time in class and lab appropriately, you won't need to spend much time to study outside of class (aside from the time needed to study prior to tests).

 

Or... you could be like me and skip most lectures and study on your own. Of course, its all based on your study style and your confidence with the material. :D

 

Personally, I found it hard to be alert from 8-5 everyday. I couldn't imagine making the commute for an 8 am class and being alert through out the day. Remember, your physical attendance has little to do with your ability to learn the material. If you are in class every day yet are dead tired, its as if you were never there.

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First year isn't so demanding that the time lost to commute is going to impact your study time. If you use your time in class and lab appropriately, you won't need to spend much time to study outside of class (aside from the time needed to study prior to tests).

 

Or... you could be like me and skip most lectures and study on your own. Of course, its all based on your study style and your confidence with the material. :D

 

Personally, I found it hard to be alert from 8-5 everyday. I couldn't imagine making the commute for an 8 am class and being alert through out the day. Remember, your physical attendance has little to do with your ability to learn the material. If you are in class every day yet are dead tired, its as if you were never there.

 

with regards to classes in 1st year, Is attendance mandatory for any of them i.e lectures/labs etc?

Also, how soon after the lecture is delivered is it available online? Can you skip class and still make up for it in time by using the online resources?

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with regards to classes in 1st year, Is attendance mandatory for any of them i.e lectures/labs etc?

Also, how soon after the lecture is delivered is it available online? Can you skip class and still make up for it in time by using the online resources?

 

No one takes your attendance. And very few lectures and labs are mandatory. If they are, you will know that they are. Its your responsilibity to understand your skillset and knowledge base, and organize your schedule to maximize your efficiency. With regards to labs, I would say that most of them are essential. The first few tests for anatomy (Structure and Function: your first block) are bellringer based primarily on human cadaveric specimens. You have one and a half minutes to identify and analyze two different structures. Your familiarity with the true human body (not simply diagrams) will determine how easy the bellringers are. The more time you spend with the cadavers, the more doable the bellringers are. This is even more important for those who havent had a in-depth anatomy course.

 

Online recordings of lectures are not a gaurenteed resource. The faculty makes every attempt to provide them to you; however, some lecturers are against providing recordings - others simply forget. They are not required to provide recordings. It is more of a courtesy than anything else. You skip lectures at your own risk (the risk ultimately dependent on your skill for self-directed learning). We had a different Structure and Function professor than what you will have next year, so I cannot comment on the way it will be run for you guys. From what I hear, it will a lot more student friendly (less overall class time); however, don't quote me on that.

 

Don't be intimidated by the workload or the THICK package they provide you during O-WEEK. Structure and Function is the more content intensive block of the year. But the content itself is not difficult. Its all about repetition.

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Thank you for your replies.

 

what do you mean we will have a different anatomy professor this year? Is it not going to be Dr. wiley?

 

Dr. Taylor was the primary anatomy professor last year. Dr. Wiley did reproduction and histology components within Structure and Function.

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so who are the new profs? or do we have to wait until school starts to find out?

 

[sIDE NOTE: I know those profs bc I did my undergrad at U of T and I took 3rd yr anatomy with Dr. wiley and LOVED it. And I took embryology with Dr. Taylor and Dr. wiley.]

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the things I realized during medical school was that time is money. I was a huge penny pincher before medical school, and still am to a certain extent. I say to a certain extent because I realize that my time is precious.

 

During medical school, depending on how much prior knowledge you have, it can be a breeze during pre-clerkship. Long days, but nothing earth shattering. I found clerkship to be much more tiring, because you could no longer decide to show up an hour late to class... if rounds start at 6am, you should be there at 5:45 as a medical student. If you finish at 6pm, the sheer time spent at work will be draining, never mind trying to read up around cases, juggling call, etc.

 

People do the commute and I know someone who commuted from Guelph to Toronto during clerkship because they really didn't like the big city. Personally, I lived close during medical school (~30 min walk to UWO campus) and as a resident in Toronto, while I live 6km away in midtown, my commute ranges from 25-45 minutes, depending on the hospital. If you can do one hour from the burbs, that sounds really impressive. I rather enjoy living outside the core, as I get to keep work and home separate and can unwind if taking the subway, or get some exercise if biking, but it was a pain with a longer commute without a cell phone while on home call. I can't do much reading on the subway as the ride is so short. Thankfully I am in a residency where there is essentially no call once in PGY2, so call is no longer an issue and I love my neighbourhood much more than I ever would living in downtown (with a residency that let's me actually enjoy the rest of my life, haha).

 

You will figure out where you fit in and what you can juggle safely.

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