College Checklist for Kids Moving Off Campus

So you're moving off-campus? Use this college checklist to make sure you have everything you need for off-campus living.

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You’ve successfully navigated your first years of college, found your tribe, and now you’re moving off campus. Congratulations! This is next-level adulting, and with it comes the need for a few more things to pack up and take back to school. With our college checklist in hand, you’ll be ready to go in no time.

Make a Plan

Start by creating a list of everything you need for your new housing arrangement. Use the one below as a jumping-off point for a more detailed electronic list to share with your roommates on a site like Google Drive. You’ll avoid duplicate purchases and help spread the expense of shared items.

Think about what makes sense to bring with you on move-in day and what’s best to purchase when you’re back at school. Big items such as furniture, for example, can be delivered directly to your place so you don’t have to rent a moving truck.

A Starter List for Off-Campus Living

Academic Supplies

At this point you’re a pro at college and you know what you need for successful studies. However, your new living quarters may not come equipped with a desk and chair like you had in your dorm.

Consider your studying habits. Do you like to study in your room? Purchase a standard desk or adjustable-height desk, a desk lamp and a comfortable chair. Surely you’ll need a bookcase or file cabinet to store papers, books and other school supplies. Also consider a satellite study spot like a beanbag chair and/or a lap desk that can be used to comfortably study in bed.

If you’re more of a library student, you might not need all of these items. But a desk and a chair at least might be a good idea.

Bathroom Items

If you had an in-room bathroom at the dorm, you should be pretty well set in this area. But if this is your first year having your own bathroom, you’ll need a few essentials besides towels.  Pick up a bathmat, soap dish or liquid soap dispenser, shower curtain and rings, shower organizer, toilet brush and a trash can. Don’t forget supplies like toilet paper and bathroom cleaners.

Bedding and Sleeping Items

If your new living space provides a bed, confirm the size. If it’s different from last year’s dorm bed, remember to purchase new bedding. If you need to buy a bed, consider buying a mattress that’s the same size as the bedding you already own to avoid this added expense.

Cleaning Supplies

Stock up on whole-home cleaning basics, such as a good multipurpose cleaner and plenty of microfiber rags. You’ll need a few floor-cleaning items such as a broom, dustpan, vacuum cleaner and a mop and bucket, too.

Clothing/Clothing Storage

If your living space isn’t furnished, make plans for clothing storage. You could use a dresser, stacking drawer units and/or additional closet organizers. An iron and ironing board will keep you looking pulled together and professional — especially important if you’ll be interviewing for internships or full-time jobs in the spring.

Electronics

You’re probably well set in this area from your first year in college. But if you’re rooming with different friends, be sure to coordinate on who will bring shared electronics like a TV, gaming system and/or speakers.

If you agree to split the cost of an expensive electronic, be sure to discuss who will keep it when you move out. If you’ll be living with roommates you don’t know well, it may be worth putting these agreements in writing.

Furniture and Decorations

If you haven’t chosen a specific place to live, don’t overlook the value and convenience of a furnished apartment, especially if your college is far from your hometown. Picking out furniture is exciting, but moving can get expensive and it’s a lot of work.

If you opt for an unfurnished apartment or house, besides the bedroom and studying furniture already mentioned, make a plan with your roommates for outfitting the shared living spaces. You’ll definitely want a couch and/or some comfortable chairs or a futon, which provides an extra place to sleep if friends come to visit. You’ll also want a coffee table and/or end tables, and a TV stand.

For the kitchen consider a dining table set, or bar stools if your kitchen has a bar-height counter. Finally, coordinate with roommates on decorations and window coverings to help ensure you have a well-furnished space that feels pulled together.

Furniture isn’t just expensive, it’s also hard to transport and can be difficult to get rid of. Again, discuss cost and responsibilities with your roommates prior to making purchases.

Kitchen

Aside from furniture, outfitting your kitchen will be one of the biggest expenses that comes with moving off campus. A well-stocked kitchen can save you money in the long run when you eat at home instead of getting carryout or eating at restaurants. Here’s what you’ll need:

Cooking Items:

  • Basic pots and pans, like a non-stick frying pan, a small pot and a large pot, all with lids.
  • Basic cooking utensils such as a non-stick spatula, spoon, slotted spoon and whisk.
  • A footed colander for straining pasta and rinsing fruits and veggies.
  • Food-prep items including a cutting board, knives and a veggie peeler.
  • A mixing bowl set, which can double as a way to serve snacks.
  • Baking pans such as a covered casserole dish that is oven and microwave safe, a pizza pan and cutter and a sheet pan will all come in handy, whether you love to bake or not.
  • Openers of the can and bottle variety.
  • Measuring tools such as a glass measuring cup (which can double as a vessel for heating water for tea or hot chocolate) and/or a measuring cup and a measuring spoon set.
  • A salt and pepper set, as well as a spice rack if you’re really into cooking. You can also make a DIY spice rack.
  • Consider buying a simple, introductory cookbook that fits your eating preferences, or snap some photos of favorite family recipes and create a digital cookbook on your phone.

Appliances:

  • A microwave, coffee maker or toaster/toaster oven are all must-haves.
  • Consider getting an Instant Pot, which includes up to eleven appliances in one, from pressure cooking to slow cooking and a whole bunch in between.
  • A blender is a terrific option for making smoothies (or frozen margaritas if you’re over 21).
  • A hand mixer if you love to bake.
  • Consider an air fryer or an indoor grill, which are great options for cooking items quickly and healthily.

Eating & Drinking:

  • A set of dishes, including plates, bowls and coffee mugs, glasses or plastic cups, plus travel mugs or water bottles for trips to campus.
  • A set or two of silverware, but consider waiting to purchase a caddy or in-drawer organizer until you’ve moved in. Drawer storage space may be in high demand in your kitchen, and a countertop solution might work better.
  • A filtered-water pitcher or sink filter will save money over buying bottles of water on repeat.

Food Storage:

Kitchen Linens and Cleaning Items:

  • Linens including pot holders and kitchen towels.
  • Dish-washing necessities, such as dishwasher detergent, liquid dish soap, a dish brush, a dish drainer and a pot scrubber
  • Rubbish containers, including a kitchen trash can and a recycling bin.
  • Two final kitchen basics: paper towels and garbage bags.

Additional maintenance items to stock include light bulbs, a tool kit, batteries, a fire extinguisher and perhaps a welcome mat. After all, with all of these amenities, you’re definitely going to want to have your friends over to hang out in your new off-campus home.

Aby Garvey
Aby Garvey is an organizing expert who believes organizing can be creative and fun—the more you love an organizing solution, the more likely you are to use it. She offers a variety of online classes that can help you get organized at her website simplify101.com.