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After being accepted, the next concern for students who will be attending Saint James School of Medicine-St. Vincent is almost always, “Where should I live?”

1. Work Out Your Budget

The first step to finding housing for your stay on St. Vincent is to figure out your monthly housing budget. You will be on St. Vincent for 20 months and you need to account for rent, utility bills, groceries and transportation.

When putting together your budget, take into account your current preferences and habits. Use those to guide you into the ideal place. Don’t go by what your ideal cost of living would be, go by your expected cost of living. Take into account factors like how often you prefer to eat at restaurants and what your monthly spending habits are now.

You may find a giant apartment for a great price, but if you can’t study without your room being roughly the temperature of an iceberg, you may find your electricity bill higher than your rent. At that point, you’ll know you’ve made the wrong housing decision.

2. Roommates

A great way to save money on a place is to connect with one or more roommates.  You can find roommates through the SJSM Student Forum, SJSM Facebook groups, the Buddy Program or right on the island when classes begin.

The new student forum is a great place to find roommates before classes start. It is private and only accepted SJSM students are allowed to register.

Don’t fret if you procrastinate and can’t find a roommate before you head to the island, as orientation is a great place to meet other students before you make a long-term commitment! Most students don’t finalize their living arrangements until classes begin because of our next tip…

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3. Keep the Lease Short

When you’ve found your new place and everything seems perfect, it may seem smart to lock it down for your entire 20 months on St. Vincent. However, you’ll see that most students do not recommend this.  The general consensus is to only contract to stay on a month-to-month basis or for the period of one semester. There are a lot of reasons behind this that make it a smart decision.

First, you’re new to St. Vincent. You may have toured the island and checked out a few places, but the majority of students have never visited St. Vincent prior to their move. It takes more than 48 hours to familiarize yourself with the new environment. You may realize within a month that all of your new friends live in a different area or that you’d rather live in walking distance of your favorite study hangout. Having the flexibility of a short lease allows you to pick up and move quickly and easily between semesters.

4. Keep Calm

Our final tip is the most important. You are starting a new chapter of your life in a new place; it’s going to be hectic at first! Take some time to relax and take in your new surroundings. Don’t put getting settled above your sanity. St. Vincent is beautiful and Basic Science only lasts 20 months. Take time to visit the famous botanical garden, hike to La Soufrière, and “lime” at all the local hangouts. You can even study on the beach! Most medical students do not have that luxury and after Basic Science you will be doing rotations in hospitals far away from the sun, sand and surf. Enjoy your time on St. Vincent!

SJSM-St. Vincent releases a housing list each semester compiled by the campus manager. This list details rental properties close to campus and rates them based on factors like walkability, rent and amenities. The list is distributed to all incoming students shortly before classes begin.

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