Next Adventure in Life

I haven’t been updating the site as often as I once did but hope to change that soon. I just wanted to take this opportunity to explain the next stage in my career.

Over the past 5 years I’ve spent one year in Iowa and 4 years in Wisconsin. Those five years were part of my radiology residency training. I graduated in June and am now one month into an additional year of training. In the medical field, we call that a fellowship. I chose a hospital in Chicago for that training and it has been great training so far.

Financially, at least in the near term, the move to Chicago was not great. Since I’m only likely here for a year (unless I find a job in the area), I decided to splurge a bit on my housing situation.

Throughout college I either lived in the dorms or shared an apartment or house with a bunch of roommates. For part of medical school as well, I had a roommate in Milwaukee to split the cost.

My internship in Des Moines was a great start to my training and also provided the amazing benefit of free fully furnished housing. I was able to transport everything I needed in the back of my Camry. I also didn’t have to drive that much since all but three months were at a hospital right next door. I could even take ER call from my room. I estimated I saved about $10,000 in gas/rent during my intern year, which went directly to investments.

The move to Milwaukee was a little more costly but still I was able to find nice housing for not that much. And, the last two years I’ve been sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with my brother. The cost per month, including indoor parking (very nice for Wisconsin winters) for the last two years was $565.

The shock came when I was looking at a minimum of at least $1300 a month for an extremely small studio a good 25 minute train ride from my hospital. This location was also west of the city and it would take even longer to make it to the “heart of downtown” Chicago.

For the year that I am living in Chicago I wanted to make sure that I was foremost in a safe location and secondly in a walkable neighborhood that was also close to transportation to the hospital.

What I found wasn’t cheap by any means by is in an amazing central location with incredible amenities. Some of those amenities include an excellent indoor cardio and weight lifting area with an indoor gym and an 8th floor outdoor pool, hot tub, fire place, and grills for residents to use.

Here’s a photo looking over the pool at night:
Alta at Night

There is also water available in the 8th floor lobby with literally fruit floating around in it! It still feels really weird to drink that since I’ve never had those amenities before.

To be honest, the gym was what sold it since they have open volleyball twice a week. I love volleyball and have already met some great friends playing there.

While these amenities do not come cheap, Internet access is included with the utilities package and the overall price is comparable to the other high rise apartment buildings in the area.

The total monthly rent cost including utilities package is an insane $1885. Additionally, since I was still moving stuff from Wisconsin, I chose to pay for the minimum indoor parking (which is two months for $500). After that the monthly parking is $235. After accustomed to free outdoor parking and heated indoor parking for $50/month in Milwaukee, that price is outrageous, but again not actually out-of-the-ordinary for Chicago. To top it off, Cook County just voted to raise sales taxes to the highest in the nation at 10.25%. Editorial commentary: That’s what happens when you have democrats running Chicago for such a long time!

Chicago does have a decent public bus and train system so I’ve decided to drop my parking at the end of August and instead use an unlimited train/bus pass for $100/month. The total cost for the remainder of the year would be $1000. If I have my car, just the cost of gas plus parking would run $3200. Plus, if I wanted to drive downtown, I’d have to deal with traffic and pay a ton for a parking spot. It would still be cheaper for me to not have a car here and take Uber as often as I needed it. This would get me directly from point A to B, and I would not need to deal with parking either. Fortunately, my parents in Wisconsin are willing to hold my car for me. (I’d be able to substantially lower or cancel my auto insurance as well and save a bit there.)

Also, Chicago has a great bike sharing program called Divvy Bikes. It used to be $7 per day for unlimited 30 minute rides. (They just increased prices to $9.95/day.) Basically you get a code for a bike, grab the bike and ride it to wherever you need to go, then you just find another Divvy station, which are nearly everywhere, and drop it off. When you need another bike, there’s no additional cost for getting another one within a 24 hour period. They have a yearly membership for $75 for unlimited rides, which drops to $55 for those with a .edu email address at select universities within Chicago. I attend one of those universities so was able to snag an annual Divvy pass for the cheap price of $55. The bikes are definitely not built for the long road rides that I love but are perfectly suited for short jaunts in the city.

All-in-all, Chicago will be an incredible experience. It won’t be cheap and I won’t have as much disposable income to invest for the next year, but this once-in-a-lifetime experience as a single guy in Chicago will likely prove invaluable.

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7 Responses

  1. The high cost of transportation are somewhat surprising to me. But I live in a college town in a smallish city (compared to Chicago). Here, most housing is build around and for the university, and there is an emphasis on walk-able/bike-able paths to the campus from the outskirts. And everyone who works at the university gets free bus transportation on the city busses. A nice perk for those who don’t have cars.

    Faced with the same circumstances/time frame and environment, I’d probably choose the same as you. I’d want to be close, able to access work (and get home) quickly, and able to work-out without stepping outside of my apartment building.

    And that is a sick pool deck!

    Good luck with the fellowship. I have a couple friends in Boston doing fellowships. I’m sure the time will pass quickly. What path do you hope to take afterwards?
    Mr. Modern Millennial recently posted…We Made a Wooden Desk Out of a DoorMy Profile

    • scott says:

      I love driving but only when the roads were wide open and curvy, like they were in Wisconsin. The Chicago traffic is horrible. Fortunately, I’ve been able to mostly take city roads and avoid the expressways. My Divvy pass just came today too. That’s a great and cheap way to get around. Can’t beat unlimited rides for $55 a year! I’m only a 20′ walk to Lake Michigan so it doesn’t take that long to get pretty much anywhere I’d want to go. The runs on the riverwalk and lake front trail have been fun too.

      Congratulations to your friends in Boston as well. It sure feels good to be almost done. I’m going to be starting to look for jobs pretty soon. I’d prefer to stay in the Midwest but am really open to wherever there are good openings.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I bet running around that lake is incredible. What a nice perk! I’m sure you will find a good fit when it comes time to making a decision. Take care,
    Mr. Modern Millennial recently posted…Current Yield versus Estimated 5 Year EPS Growth of Dividend Champions, Contenders, and Challengers – June 2015My Profile

  3. DivGuy says:

    Don’t know much about Chicago, but shared bikes program always make me somehow proud because of the Bixi one in Montreal. Not sure which one came first, but I know that Montreal inspired many other cities. Always feels good to see impacts of a nice idea.


    DivGuy recently posted…Canadian Dividend Telecom Comparison: BCE Vs Rogers Vs Shaw Vs TelusMy Profile

    • scott says:

      Hi DivGuy, Looks like Bixi was first since the new parent company of Bixi is the bike supplier of Divvy Bikes in Chicago and it looks like they supply the majority of US bike share programs. It’s a great service, but I wonder how well it will work with Chicago winters.

  4. Ross says:

    Will be neat to hear how the public transportation works out — does everything run on time? Or are there all sorts of tracking apps to be used now-a-days?

    • scott says:

      Hey Ross! I think they’re pretty on time. The trains run very frequently as well. But, there are apps that give you updates on their location and any scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. Ask me in a couple weeks after I’ve been taking the train more regularly and I’ll probably have a slightly different opinion.

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