There's so much to think about when moving to university, so we've put together this guide to help with all the practical considerations - what to take with you, what leave behind and how to make the move
'Write a list of what you need a couple of weeks before and keep a track of items you use in that time. You may well find your list alters,' advises Ruki Heritage, director of student services at the University of Bedfordshire. 'Don't just be functional, you may wish to include something that reminds you of home.'
Put theses items on your list:
- bed linen, including sheets, duvet, blankets, pillows and pillowcases
- clothes for all seasons, plus smart wear
- coat hangers
- extension lead
- socket adaptor (for international students)
- personal items such as toiletries
- kitchen items and some food to keep you going for the first week
- stationery, including pens, pencils, notepads and highlighters
- PC/laptop and any cables and chargers
- USB stick
- mobile phone and charger
- washing detergent and cleaning items
- games and sports equipment
- a list of important numbers, in case you lose your mobile phone.
It's also important to bring the necessary documentation. 'This differs per university and their registration procedures, but bring your university acceptance letter, accommodation paperwork if moving in to halls, student finance documents and some valid ID like a passport or driving licence,’ says Ruki. You'll also need a letter or document with your address on, as this might be needed to register with a local GP.
Don't panic if you've forgotten certain items. Most things can be bought from nearby shops, or collected from home at a later date.
Home comforts and room practicalities
Most students spend the first year of their studies in some form of student accommodation. As you'll be spending time in your room resting and studying, you should make this space somewhere you feel at ease. Decorate with photos of family and friends, posters, or your favourite bedding and cushions.
Other practical suggestions for your room include:
- a desk fan
- a desk lamp
- a torch
- music speakers
- drawing pins for putting up photos or posters.
'Be aware that your room may be smaller than your bedroom at home, so take a look on the university's website and work out how much space you'll have,’ says Ruki. 'You'll likely have a desk, bed and chair, so don't clutter your room by packing items you don't need.'
Your room may be the place to get some respite from the hustle and bustle of university life, but it's also good to invite friends round and get to know those you're staying with - especially during freshers' week. You may want to have a couple of spare mugs and some biscuits at the ready.
Most halls are kitted out with all the kitchen equipment you need so check what items are there when you arrive and share the cost of any extra items with your flatmates, instead of having six toasters.
Check the rules of your accommodation as some halls ban items such as rice cookers or deep fat fryers. Make sure that electrical items have been PAT tested, or that you can prove they're less than two years old.
Some universities may also give you the opportunity to pre-order bedding and kitchen packs. These bundles can be in your room on arrival.
Space in your room and kitchen is likely to be at a premium, so weigh up each item and consider its value. In general, you'll need:
- knives and a chopping board
- saucepans and a frying pan
- baking tray
- plates and bowls (microwavable ones are a good idea)
- glasses and mugs
- corkscrew and bottle opener
- tin opener
- vegetable peeler
- measuring jug
- cling film
- tin foil
- tea towels
- dish cloth
- student recipe book.
If taking your own kitchen equipment, make sure all your items are marked in case there are any disputes over ownership.
You'll need to bring your own stationery, including:
- pens, pencils and highlighters
- lever arch files
- A4 file paper
- hole punch
- diary/personal organiser
- different sized notebooks
- Post-it notes.
Having your own laptop will make your work and study much easier, as shared library resources are often oversubscribed. This is an investment that will keep your learning mobile, meaning you can work wherever you go. It can also remove the need to take a TV, as you can use it to watch your favourite shows online. However, if you bring a TV, you'll need a TV licence.
'Different universities have different rules around electrical equipment but you should be fine with standard items like a docking station, games console and beauty items such as hair dryers, but other items like electric blankets, electric scooters and heaters may be deemed a fire risk and aren't allowed,' explains Ruki.
To ensure your connection to the internet is more reliable, consider buying an Ethernet cable. This connects your laptop to a modem or router to provide a solid internet link.
A portable hard drive is also great for backing up your work - and they don't take up much room in your bag.
Make sure you pack all the chargers you need (a spare one for your phone will come in handy when you misplace the original) and remember to bring a few memory sticks.
What you won't need
A trip to IKEA won't be necessary, as most essential furniture will be provided in halls.
Aim to travel as light as possible. With most smartphones bursting with apps and organisational tools, items such as a diary or calculator may not be needed. You can also get away without:
- kitchen equipment such as a fridge, freezer and kettle
- a printer - if you need one it's likely you'll be able to use those in your university department or library
- a car - as parking spaces may be limited, and this is a cost you can usually do without
- large suitcases - these are hard to keep and boxes work better for storing your stuff
- your old study books - reading lists will be handed out at the start of term
- pets - most student accommodation forbid pets (even goldfish) of any kind, so you'll need to leave them at home.
Remember to treat these 'what to take' lists as a general guide, and use them to check off the things most relevant and applicable to you.
Transporting your belongings
When packing your belongings, make sure they're separated out into manageable chunks. Although there may be trolleys and lifts to make moving in easier, these may be busy and you may need to carry your possessions upstairs. It's also wise to bring a couple of helpers.
Parents, other family members and friends are usually the people who will help you to move. However, there are student baggage shipping services available that, for a fee, will deliver your belongings to your student accommodation in time for your arrival. The price for this removal service may be based on the number of boxes you'll be taking. Student Storage Box, for example, charge £29.47 per box - based on three standard 37cm x 55cm x 38cm boxes (of up to 30kg).
'Check to see if you need to book an arrival slot at your university and arrive on time for it,' explains Ruki. 'Also check how many people can help you move in. Some universities put a limit on the number of people you can bring with you in light of the pandemic.'
Keeping your valuables safe
When you first move to university you'll be focusing on all the positive aspects of the change, such as making new friends, exploring new places and gaining new experiences. However, you need to be mindful about the safety of your belongings, especially if you're living in shared accommodation.
Security tips include:
- avoid leaving your room unlocked, even for a short time
- don't allow people you don't know into your room, and don't leave them unaccompanied
- never leave windows open when you're out
- if your room faces a public area, keep your curtains closed when out
- don't leave expensive items on view - put them away in a draw or cupboard
- keep your access cards safe, don't lend them to anyone else and don't keep your address with them
- take out necessary insurance for your possessions - for this, you can use a price comparison site such as Comparethemarket.com.
Your university accommodation may include the cost of basic insurance for your belongings. However, if this is the case and you have some hi-tech or expensive equipment you'll need to check the level of cover provided.
Other steps you can take to keep your things safe include:
- keeping copies of contents insurance documents and warranties in a metal security file box
- ensuring you know who to contact if something goes wrong - for instance, student support and residential services are there to help with university-based issues. Your accommodation wardens will be able to offer guidance on matters relating to your residence, such as any problems you might have with your flatmates, or be available to provide pastoral care should you feel homesick
- storing a list of contact numbers separate to your phone - for example, family, friends, your bank or card provider, mobile phone network, and your university's student support service - so if you lose the electronic list, you can still get in touch.
Find out more
- Take a look at our top 10 things to do before starting university.
- Discover ways to save money as a student.