Physician Home Purchase Bloopers

crispydoc Uncategorized 14 Comments

Frank Sinatra was known for crooning, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.”

Not so with physician finance bloggers. When it comes to buying a home, we have plenty of regrets, and we like to share them.

Something about summer seems to bring out even more wonderful confessions from some terrific voices in the physician finance blogosphere. I’m guessing it’s shellshock from having to pay that first air conditioning bill on your ginormous doctor home.

Earlier this year I wrote a post admitting I wish I’d bought less house, as well as a follow up of my fantasies of how I can downsize in a cash flow positive manner once we hit the empty nest stage in a decade. I’ve spent the last few weeks hopping between different airbnb rentals (link saves you $20, nets me a small referral fee), and I’ve certainly learned that our family of four can function fine in a lot less space than we are accustomed to inhabiting. (Hard knock lesson: opt for separate beds for the kids to minimize fights and maximize sleep, yours and theirs; don’t believe their promises of “slumber party style” sibling affection.)

I thought it could be fun to collect a few posts about docs reflecting on buying their doctor homes – lessons learned, regrets, course corrections, boondoggles, etc.

BC Krygowski, a palliative care doc who is part of a dual income household, agreed with her husband to put their McMansion up for sale and eat the loss in order to toss ballast off their overloaded their financial ship. She sold the home and right-sized as part of a multi-pronged approach to turning their financial life around in an impressively short amount of time.

Loonie Doc, a Canadian critical care specialist who runs the only blog where muppets, viagra jokes and Star Trek references co-exist in perfect harmony, recently shared his dirty little 10,000 square foot secret. Just because they are more polite and their country is cleaner than ours doesn’t mean they can’t blow money like their big pimping brethren and sistren to the south.

Side Hustle Scrubs, a fellow emergency physician (and fellow beach bum) from the northeast, shoots for brutal honesty as he shares “10 Reasons I Regret My Big Dumb House.” Mission accomplished.

Physician On Fire, everyone’s favorite anesthesiologist, took a $200,000 hit when he sold a custom waterfront home after the rural hospital where he worked went bankrupt, but even that considerable financial setback did nothing to stop his path to financial independence. Who knew? Speed really can be the best anesthetic.

EJ over at Dads, Dollars and Debts, has the rare opportunity for a do-over after losing his home in the Tubbs Fire in northern California last October. He considers his options for housing following a fire, and shares his further thoughts on the advantages of smaller living spaces.

The White Coat Investor has his own tale of carnage (his word choice) about losing money on the place he bought during residency that became an unintended rental property. Discount his advice on why residents should not buy a house at your peril.

I hope I correctly pegged you, dear reader, to be the bartender type. Thanks for lending an ear and pouring a drink as we collectively cried on your shoulder. Let me know if we FI types turn out to be decent tippers.

Comments 14

  1. When I moved to this town it was after we burned down our house. We were relieved of all our stuff and it changed our outlook on stuff. I lived in a rental for a couple years till I got to know the market. It was the early 90’s and nothing was moving but things were priced high. I decided I was going to buy a little better than average house on some acreage. I wasn’t sure the job was going to work out and I didn’t want anything I couldn’t sell. The big houses never sold and at some point people were calling me up begging me to make an offer on their digs. I bought a right sized house for a right sized 15 yr mortgage. I didn’t pay it off early but instead stuffed my excess money into the market. The house was a nice tax write off and has doubled in value. Good enough for me.

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      Author

      Right sized home at a 15 yr fixed with everything else plowed into the market sounds like a great plan.
      You embodied common sense back when it wasn’t in fashion – glad to hear it carried you to where you needed to be.

  2. Thanks for the links on other doctors housing mistakes.

    You can add me to the list in terms of buying not 1 but 2 houses during residency.

    My final doctors house I’m happy with, having been here already 13 years and it’s fully paid off so no plans for further moves.

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      Wow…Two houses is living large, my friend! You must have been more Jay-Z than X-ray back in residency.
      Fully paid sounds wonderful, I look forward to the day I can say the same.

  3. Hey Crispy Doc,

    Thanks for convening the first physician housing blunders support group! I am in good company and will diligently work through my twelves steps to recovery 🙂

    1. LD and CD-support group indeed! I have housing blunders a many that I shall blog about in the future. Yes, even right-sizing can have mistakes along the way. Alas…

      CD-glad to see you posting, I was wondering with the fires in Greece if all was well. And yes, spring for the separate bedrooms. I learned the hard way these past few weeks. Sigh.

      And is it ok to say I love reading your blogs because I’m always wondering what GASEM’s comments are gonna be? 😉

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        BC,

        Kind of you to think of me with the fires in Athens – thankfully we are fine. I try to blog about travels after I return (to avoid inviting internet savvy Estonian criminal networks to rob my home), the upshot being we were no longer in Greece by the time I blogged about it.

        I was considering renaming the blog, “Gasem’s Greatest Hits, Volume I” except that he’s so ubiquitous, it’s hard to claim him solely as an attribute of this blog. On days when I’m feeling sluggish, I motivate in part because I’d hate to miss out on what he’ll add to the conversation.

        Leads to a bigger thought I had in Mexico last summer – I was visiting Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s home in Coyoacan, and it made me think that all of the wild thinkers of creators of great national intellectual and artistic treasures are often eschewed because of their outsider status during their life or at the beginning of their unconventional careers. In their old age or posthumously, everyone races to claim them as products emblematic of the nation’s best and brightest. Ironic that outsider status confers the freedom to think or create outside of conventional boundaries, which leads to original thinking, which is only after the fact recognized as such, followed by a race to expand the Venn diagram of cultural heritage to include the outsiders as part of what has made one’s culture great all along.

        Look forward to reading about your blunders in the future, if only to recognize how I’ve made them myself and feel less alone in my dopiness,

        CD

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      Our first step was to admit we were in thrall to a power greater than ourselves: hubris.

      The only good thing: when you start in the gutter, you can only go up from there! Happy to have you in the club.

  4. Hey CD!

    I did not have a house blunder but my husband….

    He bought a house before we got married and that was a massive mistake. I guess I could include that as mine since I had to get him out of the mess AFTER we married. And to think I recall clearly “he’s a doctor, he can handle it”. I was clearly not thinking straight.

    It was a nightmare, he lost a ton of money on it and he almost didn’t do his residency so that he could support the payments on it. I made him sell it for a loss and this allowed him freedom to go back to re-train. We have not looked back since.

    Now you understand why I pay cash for homes and cars….

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      Dr. MB,

      You illustrate one of my favorite bedside teaching points in the emergency department, namely that men, left to our own devices, would not survive. Cases in point:

      “It’s only heartburn,” as the 50-soemthing smoker is wheeled off to the cath lab. Thanks to his wife he got stented instead of buried.

      “It’s probably a cold.” Septic forty year old with pneumococcal pneumonia, blossoms bilateral infiltrates with hydration after a couple of liters following hypotensive presentation. Girlfriend encouraged him to get checked out.

      “My doc gave me some stool softeners for constipation.” Ninety year old with volvulus, went directly to the OR after grand-daughter brought him in for failure to improve.

      Hard to know if he was wearing his doctor hat or his man hat in the case of the home he bought. He’s lucky you were there to rescue him from himself.

  5. Wisdom comes from experience.
    Experience comes from screwing up.

    I regret my big dumb house, but I’m grateful to have learned this lesson sooner rather than later.

    It’s nice to know that when it comes to housing mistakes I’m in great company. Thanks for including me!

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      I’m thinking of using your comments for a newbie doctor fortune cookie gift pack – relishing the concise, sage reflections.

      Couldn’t agree more, the sooner you err, the more rapidly you recover.

      Thanks for stopping by, Side Hustle Scrubs!

  6. Loved this. I am pedi, aka low income physician on a functional but small house. Sometimes wondering if we should upgrade in the future but definitely happy on the current place with a comfortable mortgage payment.

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      Mildred,

      Thanks for the kind words. Only in medicine could we coin a term like “low-income physician” that the rest of the world would regard as an oxymoron 😉

      While the decision to upgrade is ultimately yours, realize that staying put means the extra mortgage payment and additional maintenance costs can instead go to: boosting retirement savings; purchasing a rental property; cutting back on your clinical time to extend your runway and avoid burnout; and avoiding the complexity that comes with needing to fill more space with more stuff (Side Hustle Scrubs has a related post touching on this).

      Not to say you should never move, just carefully consider the trade-off before figuring out what’s right for you.

      The longer you postpone, the longer you extend those benefits.

      Enjoy your good fortune, low-income though you may be!

      Fondly,

      CD

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