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Buying a property as a junior doctor

5 min
Young female wearing scrubs sitting at desk with laptop in a hospital building

The prospect of buying your first home is exciting, and something you may be thinking about. In this week’s blog, Zarnigar Khan talks us through her experience of finding a mortgage and property as a junior doctor.

Stepping onto the property ladder as a doctor

To those of you preparing to embark on the journey of buying a home – congratulations!

Stepping onto the property ladder is a huge milestone, and getting there comes with its highs and lows. I don’t think I was prepared for how stressful and frustrating the process can be.

For most young people (doctors included), this will be a brand-new experience, and I found that the process of buying a property required a new level of financial maturity that I had to prepare myself for.

For me, there were a few key questions I asked myself at the start of my search, including:

  • What sort of property am I looking for?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • Can I afford it?

Furthermore, getting onto the property ladder as a doctor comes with its own unique challenges that other people may not face. As a doctor who has been through this process, I’m here to share some of the insights I’ve gained along the way.

What sort of property am I looking for?

This was a crucial question for me, as it helped me narrow down my search.

It helps to think about your current living situation and which aspects you like or dislike, as well as what you want to get out of the next stage of life.

My partner and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen and no garden. We were struggling for space and realised that we wanted somewhere bigger. This naturally meant that we narrowed down our search to a reasonably sized house with a garden.

Where do I want to live?

There are always going to be factors that pull you towards certain locations – for example, being close to family, the countryside or the hustle-and-bustle of a major city.

However, there are other important considerations to bear in mind as a doctor, including which specialty you want to do, the quality of the training in the region and the competitiveness of job applications.

As we rotate often, it’s also important to think about commuting distances to different hospitals within a deanery.

Can I afford it?

When it came to affordability, I started by thinking about the amount of deposit I had, how big a mortgage I wanted to take out and how much I thought I could afford in monthly repayments.

Another crucial consideration was fees. This includes legal costs, surveyors and stamp duty – all of which can add thousands of pounds onto the purchase price. It’s important to take this into account when defining a budget.

Making a decision

I began asking myself these questions in April of this year when my partner was preferencing training programmes.

Communication was key, and we both discussed what was important to us – work-life balance, shorter commutes, job security, living in a vibrant city and ensuring that neither of our careers were compromised.

Based on this conversation, my partner chose to apply to a small, well-regarded deanery in a major city to reduce commuting distances in comparison to where we both currently train.

Getting your finances in order

We were then able to start getting our finances in order. I’d managed to save quite a bit towards a deposit since beginning work and through part-time jobs during medical school, and my partner had his own savings and assets that we put towards the purchase.

We then decided to get some financial advice so that we could create realistic budget. We chose to speak to a Specialist Financial Adviser from Wesleyan Financial Services. The process of getting this free, no-obligation advice was really easy. I enquired online, we met on Teams and then we went through my finances.

Collating my payslips and P60 beforehand made the process quicker, which was good. I cleared any overdrafts in the run-up too, as I suspected this would be important when establishing affordability. I was also pleased to find out that student loans don’t affect affordability.

After an in-depth discussion, the mortgage adviser was able to determine my affordability and provided me with a mortgage in principle – a document that shows estate agents I was essentially “good for the money.”

Viewing properties

Finally, we were able to start viewing properties. As we were planning to move to a different city to where we live, it was difficult – but not impossible – to coordinate our rotas to get the time off.

When we did visit, we booked in several houses a day to make the best use of our time. We also explored the various areas we were interested in to decide if they were up to scratch. This meant that when a new property came onto the market, we were able to decide from afar whether it was worth the time to visit.

This process was emotionally draining and time-consuming. I’d recommend giving yourself six months at the very least, from beginning to end. We’re probably about two-thirds of the way through the process at present, and it’s true that there have been several low points.

However, for every low point, there have been many, many highs – and we’ve now had an offer accepted on a property that we love even more than ones we’ve viewed previously.

Making the move

We’re now moving into a well-maintained Victorian house in a leafy part of town a couple of miles outside of the city centre.

One of the drawbacks is that we’ll be working in different deaneries for the next six months, and I also have the uncertainty of having to apply for training in a new deanery where we’ve bought a house.

Of course, there are inter-deanery transfers if we ended up in different deaneries, but these aren’t always guaranteed. As you can see, this was a difficult compromise that I had to make – although in hindsight, marrying a surgeon was never going to be easy!

Final thoughts

Whatever you choose, wherever you decide to train and whatever your budget, there are plenty of options out there. By going into the process with an open mind, getting yourself as prepared as possible and staying flexible, you’ll be sure to find the right place for you.

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, and want to know more about applying for a mortgage, why not check out this handy guide on the Wesleyan website?

Wesleyan Financial Services is a broker and will be paid a fee on completion of the loan.

Your mortgage is secured on your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

About the author
Zarnig Khan profile
Zarnigar Khan

Foundation Doctor

Zarnigar is an Academic Year 2 Foundation Doctor currently working in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Prior to studying medicine at the University of Sheffield, she studied Biomedical Sciences at King’s College London and gained her masters in Global Health and Development at University College London. Alongside her clinical work, she sits on the steering committee for the Changing Face of Medicine and the Members Advisory Board for Wesleyan.

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