Packing for college is very difficult because you know you will both need a lot of items for a whole year away, and you will also be bringing all of these home at the end of the school year. Below I have listed some tips to help make it easier for you to move, not only the first time but for the rest of your college career. I have moved 9 times during my college years, so I have essentially mastered the basics and a few other more innovative approaches.
- Pack intelligently by looking into the items you know you will need and making a list of them. Only pack what you need and nothing more. Stuffed animals and mementos will not serve you well in your residence hall. Leave those things on display at home and think of function over decor when trying to outfit your room. Consider whether or not you would actually use this item for the next four years of school before you put it in the box. Also, keep in mind that you are sharing this space, possibly with a stranger, and try to keep their feelings in mind.
- Split the costs with your roommate so that you can save money and space on items like coffee makers and mini-fridges. I recommend splitting up cost by choosing who will buy which item since you might part ways at the end of the year. If you share costs and buy items together, deciding who gets it in the end can be tough, or cause tension. It is equally important to be sure that your roommate is comfortable with the items you’re bringing. Small things like coffee makers shouldn’t require a conversation, but larger items like futons or TVs could take up a lot of space.
- Don’t buy anything until you know for sure what you will need and what is allowed. A lot of residence halls have restrictions about microwaves and mini-fridges, so check on that before making big purchases. You should also consider this when you are making long-term commitments because you might not actually use your expensive coffee maker, french press, or the high tech printer you thought you needed. Wasting money is just as bad as wasting space in your shared dorm room.
- Leave your valuables at home because there is just not a place for them in college. Most people do not wear much expensive jewelry, so unless you will wear it really frequently (like class rings and watches) then I suggest leaving it at home. Theft is less of a concern than just simply losing your stuff when you move so often. Items like video game systems, TVs, or other electronics might take up too much space. You may not have the time to play your games enough to justify bringing expensive consoles with you, or you might even find that you are playing too much and need to take time away to focus on school.
- Everything should be able to double as storage or else you should return it and get a refund now. If you bring any type of furniture into your dorm room, it should double as a storage space and you should use it as such. Anything that is not storage will be clunky and hard to move back and forth. Remember: you will be moving this back and forth from home for four years. If you cannot pack inside of the larger items, then storage will be a nightmare.
- Try on everything before packing because you will only wear what fits in the first place. If it doesn’t fit you should probably purge your closet of the item anyway. I suggest packing for the whole year and taking home what you don’t need at the semester breaks. Take a sampling of fall and winter clothes, but keep a few summer outfits in your closet in case something wild happens, like a last minute trip to a warmer climate. If you live somewhere with a wildly different climate from your college destination, then you should keep a couple outfits suited for home for when you’re making the trip back there.
- Don’t buy a storage unit at the end of the year because it will cause you to overpack and also spend money you could easily use for something better. Use as many items from your current bedroom/home as possible to avoid having too much stuff. Anything else you purchase should be necessary and not very large. Futons can be fun, but they are also unnecessary and hard to store or repurpose at home. I have several friends who go in together every year to buy a storage unit, but you really shouldn’t need one unless you’re moving pretty far from home. By keeping it simple, you will save yourself a lot of trouble over the next four years.
- Pack using your dorm room storage to efficiently move in. I used tons of those stackable storage containers and I would just put some packing tape on them and load them into my car at the end of the year. Doing this freed up a lot of time, energy, and space. Pack using any type of storage you plan to bring to school. But, don’t pack shoes in anything that should stay pristine and never pack inside of your mini-fridge or other appliances. It will cause harm to expensive items to be lugged around and they should be well cared for if you want them to last. It is also a good idea to pack an overnight bag with essentials so that you won’t be so stressed on move in day searching for what you need.
Moving away from home can be rough, but it is also a great experience. You will love being out on your own in this unique space once you get settled in. I loved my residence hall, even if it was a little humid and smelled like old pizza. By buying things I intended to use for all four years I was able to save a lot of money and space by trying to cut down on how much I was moving in and out. Remember that it is only temporary, so pack efficiently and savor the time you spend there. It will fly by faster than you know!