Moving to St. Louis
Moving to St. Louis is a logistical breeze, even if you’re flying in with just one suitcase. There are a couple things to do before you get here: 1) Discuss your apartment building with older students before signing the lease. We all tend to live in the same 10 buildings for a reason. 2) Schedule your Internet setup appointment before you come. In August, there can be a three-week wait time for installation. Once you get here, there are a variety of options for cheap to moderately priced home goods. If you don’t know anyone with a car, use the WUSM car share while you’re getting settled. If you’re in the market for new furniture, IKEA is just down the street. For used, the “Free and For Sale at WashU” Facebook group (accessible through your @wustl email) is always an awesome bet. Craigslist is smaller here than in most cities, but diligence can yield furniture gold. Finally, the two Goodwill stores within walking distance of campus should help fill your cheap furniture/bizarre ’90s decor needs.
– Ellen R., M1
Finding a Roommate
It’s hard to go wrong because medical students in general are functional, considerate, interesting people. All of the qualities that brought you to medical school in the first place conveniently make you an ideal roommate (plus you passed the Certiphi background check). Consequently, many people in our class found roommates at Second Look after only knowing each other for a weekend. I was maybe more extreme: I skyped one of my now roommates and Facebook-stalked the second before signing a lease right there. And they truly turned out to be the best! Around the time of Second Look weekend, the admitted student Facebook group will pin a roommate search spreadsheet, and you can add a Craigslist-style post. Finding an apartment is even less of an obstacle; some people waited until mid-August and still had their pick. Once you do find your roommate, a funny and wonderful thing happens where you start to imagine your life here. So while it’s a big decision, it’s an easy process.
– Helena H., M1
Finding Housing off Campus
The streets of Central West End (and beyond) are packed with apartments, condos and houses to rent as an alternative to the on-campus housing in Olin Residence Hall, and they don’t all have to break the bank. Though a new city may seem daunting to navigate at first, you have resources! In addition to the information in the Housing section of this Dis-O Guide (which describes great housing options such as Del Coronado, The Residences and Parc Frontenac, among others), there are also privately-owned complexes nearby that are rented out by leasing companies in the area. These are often slightly cheaper than the high-rise complexes. Helix Realty is one company that owns several buildings and has listings online: http://www.helixrltystl.com. Craigslist is also a reliable source to see what might be available in the area from local landlords, and the WashU apartment search website may also be a good starting point for a search: https://ars.wustl.edu. Contacting students who live here is also always an option — we are friendly and love to share information/give advice about coming to WUSM! Basically, if you’re willing to put in the little bit of initiative to call a leasing company or search Craigslist, you will find yourself accumulating many off-campus housing options to choose from — many of which may end up being low-cost, off-the-radar gems.
– Jackie K., M1
Buying a house or a condo is not the most common choice for most incoming first years, but in St. Louis, it’s definitely feasible. My family and I didn’t relish the idea of “throwing money away” on rent every month for the next four years, so we looked into buying a condo. St. Louis’ real estate market is doing very well right now, and if you dig a little bit you can definitely find a place that’s affordable and in a good location. My condo is a seven-minute walk to school, plus I have my own patio with grape vines! One of the advantages of owning rather than renting is that you don’t have to go through a middleman for anything. If I have a home-related issue that I want resolved, it will happen on my time, not on some landlord’s. The biggest advantage, however, is that in four years (if I end up leaving) I could potentially make money off of my living situation after selling the condo. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re financially and emotionally ready, St. Louis is full of great properties to buy.
– Nitya S., M1
Living with other M1s
Your roommate(s) are an important component of your new medical school life! When it came time for me to choose one, I chose to live with two other M1s. The majority of students also make the same choice (living with other M1s, that is. Not necessarily having two roommates). This has many perks: Your roommates are on the same basic schedule as you (your exam crunch time is also their exam crunch time), and they can empathize when you complain about how all the histology slides look the exact same. We walk to class together, eat dinner together and have study sessions in the living room. I can’t think of very many negatives — especially when I live with such great people!
– Margery G., M1
Living with Non-Medical Students
Living with a non-medical student who is not your spouse or significant other is definitely not the norm, but I recommend it highly. It’s a nice way to maintain a social life outside of your class (if that is something you are interested in), and can be a good way to vary the type of people you to whom you are exposed. That being said, it is important that you make sure the person you are living with will respect your needs as a medical student, and will be able to give you whatever quiet time you need to study. Overall, I’m happy with my decision and would recommend people consider it as an option.
– Christine H., M1
After spending the last four years living with a roommate — fighting over who gets the bathroom, bargaining over whose turn it is to take out the trash, and having to constantly monitor my Netflix volume — I decided I wanted a change. Living alone was one of the best decisions I’ve made in medical school. I sing as loud as I want, cook the smelliest Indian foods and spread my notes all over my living space without having to worry about another person dealing with my nonsense. After spending all day with my classmates, it’s nice to go home to a quiet, serene place that I can call my own. Better yet, if I ever feel like being social, I can call people over whenever I want, or even throw a party without worrying about disturbing someone else’s study time. Living alone is great, and I highly recommend it.
– Nitya S., M1
Living Far from School
Most WUSM students tend to live very close to school. But some of us have chosen to live further out in the county (or even in Illinois!) for family or cost-of-living reasons and have found it pretty manageable. The St. Louis MetroLink has been a huge part of that manageability for me. There is a train stop a mere half-block from where we have class, and WUSM students ride for free. So even though I have a car and occasionally drive to school, I more often park and ride. I save gas money and parking fees, and my blood pressure surely benefits from not having to battle rush-hour traffic every morning and afternoon, pleading with the universe for no accidents blocking the interstate. Plus I can study while I ride (if only I did that more often). The one major downside is that it is a fair bit more effort to pop in for social gatherings or evening selectives. Not bad on the whole, though.
– Weston M., M1