Skip to main content

Guide to Living in the US

This is an extensive guide on how to manage finances and expenses while living in the US. On behalf of KEMUNITED, we congratulate everyone who matched this year. Hopefully you guys will continue helping others!

Phone bills, travelling, food and housing are pretty much all that you spend on while you are in USA for electives, and though the following list won’t save you a lot individually but the money saved collectively can help you save a few bucks in your final budget.

In general living with someone is always cheaper than getting a room alone. One way to find roommates is to search different Facebook pages like US electives and other forums. Look for any ads related to this, and usually Pakistani residents/elective students do offer temporary residence at nominal costs.
PPS, KEMCAANA and Iqbalian house are obviously the cheapest options wherever they are, but they have their own set of problems.

AirBNB: Seems to be a bit expensive when you look at the daily rates. But when you book for a month, there is an automatic discount. Further, you should message the landlord and haggle a bit and they usually do accommodate you because even for them getting a tenant for long term (one month) is much better. Also remember to get an invite sent to you before joining the AirBNB website as that gets you a $25 discount on your first booking.
Other options include craiglist, and both of which are difficult to find a room on.
You can search other random options but usually it’s very difficult to get a good deal for one month as most places are looking to give a lease for at least 6 months.

The big 4 phone companies in USA are the following: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. All of these are more famous because of their postpaid services, which includes giving phones on contracts. They all do have some sort of prepaid plans (which are the ones we need temporarily) but they are a bit expensive compared to prepaid specific plans. T-mobile seems to be the most attractive of the above 4 but I would advise not to get it because of its poor coverage and bad internet services. If you are going into a small city, T-mobile is most probably not going to work. So if you are going for one of the top 4, then go for AT&T or Verizon. But I’d suggest going for lesser known companies that deal only in prepaid services like Lycamobile and H2O wireless. Also remember to get a monthly package from the get go and even at the end if you have only 10 days left. Pay-as-go, like we have in Pakistan, is really expensive there with a single text costing almost a $, and you get charged even for receiving calls.
I personally used H2O Wireless, which uses AT&T’s network so it basically works wherever AT&T works. The only advantage is that it’s way cheaper than its parent company. Frequently there are offers in which you can get the initial sim and first month’s package for a 50% discount. Look up for that.
Lyca is used by most of those doing electives in Chicago. It has amazing 1 month, 2 months and 3 months plans so you can be tension free for whatever amount of time you are spending in USA. But do look at its coverage if it covers most of the places you are going to visit in USA.

UBER: Before making your new account using your USA number, do get a promo code which gives you a free first ride. So you can send yourself an invite using your Pakistani account and get 2 free rides.
LYFT: This is the other ride sharing app all over USA. Again get a promo code. Search google for this promo which gives you $50 off i.e. $5 off your first 10 rides each. I don’t know if it’s still available. But there will definitely be other promos.
Southwest Airlines: Gives you free baggage unlike most of the local flights in USA. Also they are pretty cheap.
Apart from southwest, Frontier and Sprint are two companies that have really cheap flights but only if you have no bags with you. So in case you are travelling light for a few days within USA, these two airlines can save you big.

Food & Entertainment
Eating from your hospital’s cafĂ© is the cheapest option when it comes to eating daily and not cooking yourself. But fast food chains have their own applications and you can truly save a lot when you use them regularly. Most importantly use your Pakistani university card or your card from the hospital you are working to get a student discount almost everywhere. They give you a 10% discount at every eatery, cinema or shopping store. You just have to ask for it.
Subway: You get a free sub on registering online with your phone number. And then a further free sub if you are able to invite 3 more people.
McDonald’s: The McDonald’s app has daily offers which include buy one get one free offer. So this is a definite must install app.
Starbucks: Not an essential, but installing its app has its benefits. You get a free coffee, any size, just for downloading the app and then another free coffee on your birthday, so faking the date might not be a bad idea for this one.
Seatgeek app: For sports games and concerts tickets, you can get a $20 discount on your initial purchase so use it instead of directly buying tickets. You can even sell your tickets if you decide not to go at the end.

So the first thing you should do on arriving in USA is open a bank account and deposit all the cash you brought with you. It’s pretty stupid not to bring cash and use a Pakistani credit card because of all the bank charges that you have to pay, effectively increasing the price of each $ by almost Rs. 5 but of course whatever makes you more comfortable. Most people open an account in Bank of America, and so transferring money to each other becomes really easy as there are charges to transfer to other banks except because of one app which I will discuss later. Just get the simplest debit card on offer, and your life will be much easier. Even street vendors in USA have card facilities.
Before opening your account look for promotion offers. Some banks offer an amount for opening an account with a certain amount of initial deposit (around $500-1500), which you will obviously be making. So essentially it is like a lottery for you. But this happens only if you find the promo code online and then give the bank teller the promo code, when you go there with your elective documents and passport etc. I received $50 from PNC Bank and $150 from Huntington Bank because of these promotions just for depositing the money which I had to do anyways. Also look for promotions at Chase Bank and CitiBank. Follow this link for further information: Sometimes you have to make the initial deposit as a direct deposit, which happens when you receive money through the Venmo app (discussed later), this is a technical term which I won’t be able to explain here.
Venmo App: The most essential app while living in USA. It is run by paypal, and is completely safe. Anyone with a bank account in USA or probably anyone with a credit/debit card from anywhere in the world can use it. This app is not available in Pakistan, so iPhone folks you’ll have to make a new USA account. So what this app allows you to do is send money to each other from about $1 to $300/day to a friend of yours who you have added on Facebook, or by their username, and the money is taken from your debit/credit card that you have to enter into the app initially. This happens in a matter of seconds. The one who receives the money can either keep the amount within the app, in order to send it to others later, or just transfer the amount to their bank account that you can easily link by entering bank account number. So basically doing anything together like buying grocery, travelling on Uber or eating out becomes much easier and you can send your share instantly and only one needs to pay.


Here's more you should read...

USMLE Step 1 Experience by Ayaz Mehmood (Score : 99/266)

USMLE Step 1 Experience by Ayaz Mehmood (Score : 99/266)
Salam everyone, let me start in the name of Allah who’s the greatest benefactor of all mankind. I am going to write a detailed composition regarding preparation for USMLE Step 1. I am a final year student at King Edward Medical University and I took my exam on June 10th. Final year is the year before internship/ house job in Pakistan. I just got my scores: 99/266

Let me introduce some myths surrounding USMLE Step 1 which are especially prevalent within Pakistan; I am not too sure about India because I heard their students typically appear in their final years.

 Myth number 1:Do not appear for USMLE Step 1 within your graduation

 Verdict: Baseless, illogical reasoning

Explanation: This is so prevalent in Pakistan it’s almost pathetic. One of the biggest concerns surrounding our students is that Step 1 is a huge risk to be taken before graduation. Let me put it in another way: Step1 would always remain a risk whenever it is taken, …

Australian Medical Council AMC Part 1 Guide - Experience and Tips

AMC Part 1 by Dr. Asad Khizar Malik (Rank : 77/620) Australian Medical Council  Guide - Experience and Tips
Salam people, let me start in the name of Allah who’s the greatest benefactor of all mankind. Hope everyone is doing great. I'll try to write as much as I can for the people who are due to various reasons more interested in joining Australian Hospitals for post-grad training as compared to the USMLE pathway.

I am a graduate of King Edward Medical University, class of 2004-2010. I did my 6 months house job after graduation in Mayo Hospital, and after that, i gave my AMC Part 1 in November, 2010 from Brisbane. With the grace of Allah, I passed that in first attempt.


First thing in mind that comes with post grad training in Pakistani doctors minds is: Which way to go after graduation? That is a very tough decision that is …

FSc Premedical Guide - How to fly high..

FSc Premedical Guide - How to fly high.. Unsa Athar Your 40% needs to be excellent to get into KEMU or  some other good place.
(Dedicated to my teachers who not only taught me the fsc books but also many priceless lessons of life)
(Unsa Athar)
The tree that never had to fight For sun and sky and air and light, But stood out in the open rain And always got its share and rain, Never became a forest king, But lived and died a scrubby thing… Good timber does not grow with ease, The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
Getting yourself educated in the desi manner i.e. through the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education is one of the top most challenges of today’s society. Matriculation seems difficult at that time, but when you enter FSc, you realize that matric was the easiest job in the world.  Those obese books of intermediate part I and part II are the worst enemies one can ever have.  People say Medical is tougher, but I find one basic difference in both. When you enter a medical college, y…


Anatomy/Histology Gallery
Read the instructions here 1st Year

Histology Slides for Professional Exams
Folder 1- Labelled Folder 2 - Labelled Folder 3 - Labelled
Histology Revision Slides Updated (2011)
by Laiba Khalid
Lower Limb Anatomy Spotting Labelled

Embryology Models Some models are labelled and others mentioned in comments

Anatomy Museum Models (unlabelled) This album covers Upper limb, Lower limb and Thorax regions of anatomy

2nd Year
HISTOLOGY Diagrams Hand-drawn CARDS 2ND YEAR MBBSThese are hand-drawn histology diagrams by Demonstrator Dr. Shaista (Dept of Anatomy, KEMU) and submitted by Anosha.NEUROLOGY/ Neuroantomy SPOTTING  (LABELLED SPECIMEN) 2ND YEAR  Each structure is labelled and a great job done by Anosha. Neuroanatomy / Brain 2nd Year Important topics by LaibaNeuroanatomy Models Labelled  Gross models labelled by Maryam Shahid Abdomen & Pelvis Anatomy Spots Labelled Excellent job by Maryam Shahid
Anatomy Learni…

USMLE Step 2 CK experience by Rizwan Khan (254)


     I recently got done with Step 2 CK exam & I want to elaborate my experience and the mistakes that I made during my prep so that any of my colleagues who are preparing for this exam might benefit from them. I wont go much in detail about how to prepare and where to prepare from since it is already highly debated on the forum and in the previous posts but would focus more on my personal experience and the bad choices which I made during the preparation phase.
SELF-ASSESSMENTS AND QBANKS Uworld 74% Kaplan Qbank 69%
Kaplan diagnostics  = 80% (70 days before exam) Kaplan Simulation Exam 1 = 71% (50 days before exam) Kaplan Simulation Exam 2 = 76%  (40 days before exam) Fred simulation for CK = 84% (39 days before exam) NBME 2 (offline) 21 mistakes (30 days before exam)
NBME 4  =    263 (13 days before exam) UWSA =  259 (2 days before exam)
Real exam = 254