The essential checklist for moving to college or university!

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university sign

So, you’ve gotten into college or university – well done.

Now for the next stage, moving into halls or private accommodation.

CadaStudent has thought for you and created a list of essential items needed when moving out of your family home.

Download and print out the checklist for university and use it when packing and organising your move.

Taking too many items may be the wrong thing to do. Remember, you must carry and store all these things in your student room, and the available space is likely less than your family home.

The list (in 8 categories) is for essentials, not every item – you will have a local shop where you can buy things on arrival.


girl writing in a calendar

Living away from home for the first time, possibly in a room with a stranger, isn’t something you’ve experienced before. But remember, it’s new for almost everyone else as well.

Here’s how to prepare yourself for college (college’ is used in this article to mean college or university).

Identify and set goals for your academic study and your social life. Yes, you will have one! Consider what activities, sports and clubs you may want to join. Perhaps something brand new that you always wanted to try but didn’t have the opportunity! Check out the college and student websites for information.

Finally, decide how you’ll communicate with friends and family back at home while you’re at school. Remember your friends and family will be just as nervous and excited as you and may need and will love regular contact.

  • Identify and set goals for:
    • academic success
    • social life
  • Find out what social activities are available
    • Check out the college website
    • Check out the student association website
  • Agree on how and when you’ll communicate with:
    • family
    • friends


budget planning

If you’ve had a job while in school, you may have some experience in financial planning. But moving away to university means you’re making daily financial decisions independently.

Living on a budget isn’t impossible, but it’s easier if you’ve done some planning before you head off. Here’s how to prepare while you still have some support at home:

  • Sort out where the money is coming from, e.g. a job, parents, savings, etc.
  • Sort out where the money is going too, e.g. a bank account – student accounts are available
  • Create a budget to ensure the essential college expenses are covered, and you know how much money is leftover
  • Decide the budget on other necessities, like food and social costs, e.g. events, clubs, etc.
  • Practise sticking to your budget in the months leading up to college
  • Use a banking app to keep track of your spending (there are also several budgeting apps available)
  • If you’ve not spent your budget during a month, put that money into a savings account; you may have a sudden large bill, for example, a car repair
  • Look at your bank statements regularly, start daily; once comfortable, move to weekly, and if confident you are on top of things, perhaps move to monthly

If you think you’re getting into issues with money, the university will have a student services department to support you, including financial aid, general student finance and tuition fees.

The Move

You can get your brain in college preparation mode with your mind and wallet set right.

The actual process of leaving your family home, moving into your college or university accommodation campus, gathering all your supplies, meeting new people, attending welcome events, and getting to classes on time can be stressful.

Here are some tips for making move-in feel less like a juggling act and more like an event to remember:

  • If you can, view the university accommodation before moving in
  • Find out if there are local stores near your student accommodation for any last-minute forgotten items, and don’t forget to ask for a student discount!
  • Plan for the weather during moving
  • Get to the accommodation as soon as you can. There could be many people arriving at the same time, especially if you are in dorm accommodation; the parking could get stressful
  • Bring snacks and water to help you through the move
  • Accept help from friends and family to move in and arrange the room
  • Pack light, but know your situation, e.g. are you going to a rural or city-based university?
  • Pack a small bag with all your day one uni essentials (this will help you avoid spending all day unpacking)


student dorm bedroom

Most of the requirements for accommodation should be provided. But check what is and isn’t. You might need:

  • Air mattress (for visitors)
  • Clock (in case of a power cut, best have a battery-powered alarm, and don’t rely on your phone!)
  • Lamps (general lighting and study lamps)
  • Message board (a cork or whiteboard to leave messages and a “To-do’s”)
  • Mirror(s)
  • Storage (under-bed storage systems are a good idea)
  • TV (although many new students use laptops, tablets or even phones these days)
  • Doorstop (always ensure it is not a fire door before using – fire doors must not be held open)


  • Blankets
  • Laundry basket
  • Mattress protector or topper
  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Shower mat


Casual clothes are great for day-to-day stuff, for example, lectures or shopping. Dress or forma

  • Backpack (a necessity for a student)
  • Bad weather gear (this will depend upon where you’re studying)
    • Boots
    • Hat
    • Jacket
    • Gloves
    • Scarf
  • Business clothes (if you’re going to get a job, dress right for the interview)
  • Casual clothes
  • Dress shoes
  • Formal clothes
  • Hangers
  • Jewellery
  • Pyjamas
  • Robe
  • Shirts
  • Shower shoes
  • Socks
  • Sports shoes
  • Sun hat
  • Swimwear
  • Trousers
  • Umbrella
  • Underwear
  • Workout clothes

Bathroom and medicines

student bathroom

Most bathroom items can be easily purchased from a local supermarket or discount store. So, remind yourself that it’s not a big deal if you forget or don’t have enough room to take them. Also remember, it could be shared accommodation with a shared bathroom, so one important thing could be a toilet bag!

  • Allergy medicines
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Aspirin
  • Birth control
  • Body/face lotions
  • Bug repellent
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Comb/brush
  • Contacts/solution
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cough drops
  • Decongestant
  • Deodorant
  • Eyeglasses
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Floss
  • Hairstyling equipment
  • Hand mirror
  • Makeup
  • Prescription medicines
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Sterile bandages
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tweezers
  • Vaccinations (discuss with your health professional)
  • Vitamins


student desk

University student halls typically have rooms designed with a desk to allow you to study. However, this may not be the case within privately rented accommodation, and you could consider purchasing a cheap desk and chair.

Other items to be considered could be a printer. Although your university will have printers available, it may be helpful to have one in your room. Post-it notes, stapler and staples, scissors, and course textbooks – which can be bought new or second hand on Amazon or the local/university bookshop.


  • Batteries (rechargeable)
  • Cables (HDMI/Ethernet/USB)
  • Chargers that cover all devices
  • Computer (laptop/tablet/desktop)
  • Headphones (consider Bluetooth – this will avoid cables everywhere)
  • Keyboard and Mouse (ideally wireless – this will avoid cables everywhere)
  • Laptop/monitor stand
  • Laptop/tablet case (or a strong backpack designed for a laptop or tablet)
  • Mobile phone (check service for the area)
  • Monitor (handy if you use a small laptop or tablet as your computer)
  • Power extension (a 4 point with surge protection to protect your electronics is ideal)
  • Printer (and don’t forget the paper; although it’s more than likely your college will provide printing facilities)
  • Speakers (ideally Bluetooth – this will avoid cables everywhere)
  • USB drives/external storage (CadaStudent provides 2Gigabytes of free storage and will soon integrate cloud storage, e.g. GDrive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.)


  • Banking App
  • CadaStudent (sorry, but we had to include ourselves)
  • Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, etc. There are many alternatives, free and paid. Most of the paid ones include a discount for students or may even be free through your college
  • Security software. There are many to choose from, and you probably have your own already. If not, consider products such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, Avast, etc. A search online will provide reviews and suggestions
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN). As you’ll be using public Wi-Fi, this is a must-have. We recommend NordVPN. We’re not affiliated, but they have provided us with an excellent service for several years.


  • Business cards (sounds weird, but as you’re going to meet lots of new faces, they are helpful in the early days)
  • Envelopes (a selection from small letters and cards to large documents)
  • Folders (you’re going to need them)
  • Highlighters (yellow is excellent and doesn’t interfere with printing)
  • Flashcards (for revision)
  • Notebooks (of course, you can also use CadaStudent)
  • Pens and pencils
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sharpener
  • Stamps
  • Stapler
  • Sticky notes


Various items for university

If you’re an international student, i.e. you plan to study abroad, you should consider printing and taking the most important documents, for example, visas, travel, insurance, accommodation agreement, and university acceptance letters.

  • Car insurance
  • Car registration
  • Class schedule
  • College ID
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Driving license
  • Emergency contact list (leave it somewhere prominent – the message board?)
  • Health insurance card
  • ID card
  • Passport

Most kitchen requirements should be provided if you live in halls or even private accommodation. However, if they aren’t or you wish to take your own, we have provided some items to consider.

  • Bowls
  • Can opener
  • Chopping board
  • Coffeemaker
  • Cutlery set
  • Glasses
  • Hot plate
  • Measuring jug
  • Microwave
  • Mugs
  • Oven gloves
  • Peeler
  • Plates
  • Saucepans
  • Scissors
  • Small fridge
  • Tea towel
  • Tupperware
  • Washing up sponge and liquid
  • Water bottle


  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dish soap
  • Dishtowel
  • Mini broom with dustpan
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbish bags
  • Small vacuum
  • Stain Remover
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes

Personal stuff:

  • Bicycle
  • Books (to read for fun – not study!)
  • Journal
  • Luggage (for a weekend and home travel)
  • Musical instruments

Food: Check with roommates about allergies before buying or using!

  • Bottled water
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Coffee/tea
  • Snacks
  • Soup

Safety and security:

  • Bicycle helmet and lock
  • Flashlight
  • Pepper spray
  • Safety whistle

Remember to download and print the university checklist!

So, welcome to university life. Moreover, good luck, enjoy this significant new phase of your student life and get ready for freshers week!

Please mention it in the comments section below if you think we have missed something.

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