Renting vs. Buying: How to Decide as a New Attending Physician

By: Varun Verma, MD

Published: Jun 6, 2023

📂 Physician Perspectives

Written for:

✅ Residents and Fellows

✅ Early Career Physicians

✅ Mid Career Physicians

✅ Established Professionals

Congratulations on becoming a new attending physician! Making the decision to rent or buy a home is a significant one. Follow these steps to navigate the choice effectively:

1. Assess Your Financial Landscape

  • Financial Indicators

    • Renting: If you prefer lower upfront costs and no mortgage payments, renting is a good option.

    • Buying (Regular Mortgage): If you are comfortable with a down payment and ongoing mortgage payments and expenses, buying with a regular mortgage is worth considering.

    • Buying (Physician Mortgage): If you want to avoid a down payment, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and still have ongoing mortgage payments and expenses, a physician mortgage may suit you.

  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Homeownership won't affect your debt-to-income ratio in the case of renting, but your eligibility for a mortgage may be impacted in the case of buying. Specialized physician mortgage programs may offer more flexibility based on your ratio.

  • Additional Considerations: If managing your cash flow and investing opportunities are essential to you, consider the impact of renting or buying on your financial situation. Project potential tax implications based on your rental or homeownership status. Assess the possibility of rental income if you plan to invest in a property. Consider the opportunity to build equity over time with homeownership. Explore potential tax benefits associated with owning a home. Evaluate the long-term appreciation potential of the property. Consider the opportunity to build equity over time with a physician mortgage. Examine the potential advantages offered by specialized physician mortgage programs. Assess the opportunity for investment with less initial capital outlay.

2. Define Your Long-Term Aspirations

  • Long-Term Aspirations

    • Renting: If you prioritize flexibility to easily relocate based on changing circumstances, then renting might be the suitable choice.

    • Buying (Regular Mortgage): If stability and a sense of ownership are important to you, buying a home with a regular mortgage could be a better fit.

    • Buying (Physician Mortgage): A physician mortgage may offer potential benefits that align with your job stability and mobility requirements.

  • Additional Considerations: Consider your future plans for family and the potential need for a larger living space. Assess your ability to accommodate personal preferences and make modifications in a rental or purchased property.

3. Evaluate the Local Real Estate Landscape

  • Local Real Estate Landscape

    • Renting: Renting provides stability or potential appreciation in property values.

    • Buying (Regular Mortgage & Physician Mortgage): Buying with either mortgage type offers stable or potential appreciation in property values.

  • Additional Considerations: Assess the availability of desirable rental properties or homes for sale in the area. Evaluate future development and infrastructure plans in the vicinity. Consider the local rental demand and potential rental income.

4. Weigh the Pros and Cons

  • Pros

    • Renting: Flexibility, affordability, and control over living space.

    • Buying (Regular Mortgage): Stability, sense of ownership, and control over modifications.

    • Buying (Physician Mortgage): Stability, sense of ownership, and potential financial advantages.

  • Additional Considerations: Consider your monthly cash flow and its impact on your rental or homeownership decision. Evaluate the long-term appreciation potential of the property you rent or purchase. Assess any potential tax advantages or deductions associated with renting or homeownership. Consider the opportunity for property appreciation and long-term wealth building with homeownership.

5. Seek Professional Advice

  • If you still have uncertainties or require personalized guidance, consult with financial advisors and real estate professionals who specialize in working with physicians. They can provide tailored insights based on your unique circumstances.

6. Learn from Other Physicians' Experiences

  • It can be helpful to hear from other physicians who have made similar decisions. If you choose to rent, many physicians who have gone down this path express satisfaction with the flexibility it provides, especially during early career stages when job opportunities may change frequently. Physicians who have purchased homes with regular mortgages often appreciate the stability, sense of ownership, and long-term wealth-building potential. However, some mention the financial responsibilities and potential constraints when it comes to relocation. Physicians who have opted for physician mortgages highlight the benefits of avoiding a down payment and private mortgage insurance (PMI) while still enjoying the stability and financial advantages of homeownership.

7. Make an Informed Personal Decision

  • Remember, the decision to rent or buy a home is personal and unique to you. Weigh the factors discussed, align them with your financial goals, lifestyle preferences, and specific circumstances. Take the time to thoroughly research and reflect on what matters most to you.

This guide is designed to assist you in making a well-informed decision about renting or buying a home as a new attending physician.

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