The ultimate student moving checklist

If you’ve got the grades you needed, this is an exciting time. University awaits! But take a moment to think about what you’ll need to take with you. Our student moving checklist can help.

Parents helping their child to pack before moving to university


Uni packing list: Be box smart and secure

Whatever you do, don’t leave packing to the last minute. When you’re at home everything is at hand because your family have spent years accumulating all the necessaries and luxuries. 

Fail to plan and you either spend a bomb or end up living on rice and beans, nicking loo roll out of the student union toilets. 

So, first up get some packing boxes, proper ones that you can buy online. You could buy a few to start, but you probably need more than half a dozen. Boxes are handy as they give you a sense of proportion. 

If you can’t fit all you need in them, and they take up more space than your bedroom, you’ve packed too much. After all you likely only have one room to call your own.


Uni checklist: What to take or leave

Most new university students haven’t spent more than a week or two away from home. 

So it might seem impossible to know what to take with you for a whole year and what can be picked up later on. 

You don’t want to be splashing out on goods at your local supermarket when they’re languishing at home.

There are much better things to spend your money on at campus than cosmetics or socks, right?

With this in mind, here’s a comprehensive guide to what you need to consider taking to university.

Step 1: Documents to take to university

This list of uni essentials is right up there with your toothpaste and mobile phone. 

Scan these documents and keep them somewhere safe on your laptop, in the cloud or in a locked safe (in some cases – check with your student union or university admin office about this). 

  • Accommodation contract, information, and terms
  • Driver's licence, passport or some other officially-recognised form of identification.
  • Your bank account details and bank card
  • Bank debit card
  • Car insurance and documents 
  • Student loan documents or any other funding document – if they’re in print think about keeping them at home 
  • Student discount cards 
  • National Insurance card – record the number on your phone or computer. Keep the card at home.

Step 2: Electrical items and entertainment

You’ll probably want to bring some electrical items with you to university, for instance:

  • Games and video games console
  • Headsets
  • Cable adapters
  • Charging cables
  • Camera
  • Hair dryer and hairstyling tools
  • Speakers and amplifiers
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Extension leads
  • Laptop/computer and charger
  • External hard drive

Step 3: Packing clothes for university

Clothing is a no-brainer as you’ll almost certainly know what you want to take with you when moving to uni. The following is a short list of the essentials, including a few extras that you might have forgotten about:

  • Seasonal clothing (sunglasses, gloves, scarves, hats)
  • Comfortable shoes and clothes for lectures
  • Clothes hangers
  • Dressing gown
  • At least one interview outfit
  • At least one swimming costume or pair of trunks and beach towel
  • Slippers 
  • Raincoat, umbrella, wellies
  • Workout gear

Step 4: Toiletry essentials for university

It goes without saying that you’ll probably want to look and smell nice. But you’d be surprised how many people go away without their toothpaste or shower gel. 

Don’t be one of them – especially when you’re in for the full academic year. Don't forget the following:

  • Medication
  • Towel, blow dryer, hair straighteners, hair-styling products
  • Shaver, razor, shaving cream
  • Aftershave, perfume
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Cotton buds
  • Soap, shampoo
  • Shower stuff
  • Lotion

Step 5: Kitchen supplies 

You’ve got to eat. While you just need hands to munch on a burger or a kebab, utensils and cutlery come in handy for breakfast cereals and proper meals. 

For this and other reasons, start gathering the necessary kitchen supplies so that you can cook and store food.

With this in mind, consider the following supplies:

  • A pot and pan
  • Plates (small and large)
  • Bowls
  • Cups or mugs, glasses and a flask
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Soap, detergent and scrub brush 
  • Fork, knife, spoon
  • Tupperware containers
  • Can and bottle opener
  • Dishcloths

Step 6: Home comforts 

Despite the fact that many university rooms come fitted out, you still need some stuff to make the room usable – mainly for studying. 

This is especially the case if you opt to move into a private rental flat or house away from campus.

The following are some of the essentials you won't want to go to university without (plus a few ideas to make your lodgings feel more like home):

  • Alarm clock 
  • Laundry basket 
  • Bed sheets
  • Pillows and duvets, plus pillow cases
  • Mattress protector 
  • Doorstop
  • Photos of friends and family 
  • Clothes (for all weathers), and hangers
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Iron, ironing board, clothes horse (check whether your place has these first, if possible)
  • Lamp
  • Mirror

Step 7: Must have non-essentials

The items below aren’t exactly essentials, but you’ll probably  want to have them in your new room, to give it that touch of home.

  • Plants for decoration
  • Cushions or throws for a cosy touch
  • A full-length or wall mirror
  • Bulletin board
  • Pictures or posters
  • A lamp shade

Step 8: Self storage units for university students

Depending on how long you’ll be gone for your studies, you might want to think about the costs of safely storing and moving your items.

If you’re worried about lugging all your stuff home over the holidays, finding a self-storage unit nearby could be the answer.

Research the costs up front because they can vary by quite a degree. Check out the place before handing over any cash too. 

Ask the university or your student union for recommendations. The last thing you want is to deal with someone who uses or steals your stuff. Or the place isn’t secure enough to keep out thieves or the rain.

Also, if you’ve got friends in a similar situation, ask if they’d be willing to share the storage unit and split the cost.

One more thing, make sure you find out whether the self-storage provider offers insurance for your goods. 

If it’s not included, shop around for the appropriate type of home insurance cover. Don’t just opt for the provider’s policy, as it may be lacking or too expensive.

Step 9: Get your car serviced before moving to university

If you choose to bring your car to university, make sure you have it examined by a mechanic beforehand.

This is particularly important if you have to drive a long distance to your new place.

Also, ensure you’ve checked the parking regulations of your university area to avoid a dreaded parking fine.

In lots of cities, there are specific parking zones that either require you to pay and display or purchase a residential parking permit. 

Some of these don’t cost anything depending on the area.

If you require a permit, the council often asks for proof of residence, and a copy of your vehicle documents. So make sure to take these to university with you.

Don’t forget to tell your insurer about your change of address during term time as this could affect your policy and premium. 

Make sure you get the right student car insurance cover, too.

Step 10: Stationery to take to uni

You should be able to buy the stationery you need when you get there. But sorting yourself out in advance gives you one less thing to worry about when you arrive.

As well as pens and pencils, a ruler and a pencil case, consider taking:

  • Highlighters
  • Staples and a stapler
  • A couple of writing pads
  • Some box folders and ring-binders
  • A calculator
  • Some Post-It notes.

Step 11: What you should not take to university?

This is always a tricky one. What you shouldn’t take with you to university depends on a number of factors, but for convenience’s sake let’s break it down into five sections: 


Some things are just not safe to have when you’re effectively living in one room – a room which may be a tad cluttered at the best of times. So, for obvious reasons, leave the following at home:

  • Candles
  • Ashtrays (chances are you won’t be allowed to smoke in your room)


Before going wild online, check to see whether your accommodation comes with the following big-ticket items. If they don’t, wait until you move in and broach the subject of splitting the cost of any that you need and aren’t provided:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • TV
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Kettle


Halls of residence are purpose built, and usually secure. However, a private rental might not be. Don’t even think about putting valuables outside your room. Get a lock fitted to your door when you move in but make sure to ask the landlord’s permission first.

Fit a garden latch on the inside, so you’re safe at night and can slide it open if you need to get out. But don’t opt for a padlock on the outside. Someone might lock you in for a prank.


The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 requires all private landlords to ensure their properties are fitted out with smoke and CO detectors. 

If your private rental doesn’t have both on each floor of the property take it up with the landlord and keep the university informed. If your landlord is reluctant to buy one, get one yourselves. You might be able to regain the cost at the end of the tenancy, but your safety should be your first priority.


You and your roommates

It’s also important to try to co-exist with your roommates as best you can. They’ll have their own quirks, habits and preferences. So, if you want to avoid an argument take this advice:

  • Don’t take pets – bringing a pooch or even a tortoise along might give you a best buddy to share time with, but your place might be small. Halls of residence usually prohibit pets, as may private rentals, plus your housemates might object, especially if they have allergies.
  • Don’t play loud music – keep the speakers at home. Your walls could be paper thin and not everyone will share your taste in music, especially if they’re  trying to get their head round tricky coursework.
  • Food – don’t cook with other people’s food, unless you’ve asked first. 
  • Leave as you find – if you’re all sharing the same toilet, bathroom, kitchen or living space, tidy up when you’re done. Arguments between tenants are the last thing you want while at university.

Tips for transporting your belongings

  • Save space by packing smaller items into larger things – wrap up your cutlery and put it in your spare shoes, for example.
  • Make sure that fragile items are properly protected – use your clothes to separate things such as breakable crockery.
  • If you’re using public transport, lock your cases as you would when travelling to an airport.
  • Remember that you’re likely to accumulate more belongings and course books while you’re away at university, So if you’re full up on the way there, you’re going to struggle to get everything packed when when the semester ends!

Do I need student contents insurance?

It’s a stressing fact, but student accommodation is at a high-risk of burglary.

You might own highly-prized items, such as laptops, tablets, iPads and other gadgets, and jewellery.

Most students believe their stuff is covered by their parents' home insurance even while they’re away at university. In some cases this doesn’t happen, so always check the policy wording.

You might not think of it, but when you go to university you may also be leaving home for good. Consequently, you might need to apply for a separate contents insurance policy for your new place.

When it comes to tenants’ insurance, most people think of protecting themselves against theft or damage to their personal property. But it’s the liability for harm to others, or their belongings, that can be a financial burden if it happens.

Some insurance policies incorporate liability insurance for damage that tenants or their guests cause to the property.

Student contents insurance could provide you with peace of mind and let you get on with enjoying your time at university.

You might also want to look into specialist bicycle insurance, too – particularly if it's your main method of transport.


Tips for keeping your valuables safe

In many ways, keeping your valuables safe at university or college involves the same precautions as when you have them at home. But given the nature of university accommodation and halls of residence, it’s even more important to be careful.

Keep your doors and windows locked whenever you’re out of your room – even if you’re popping out for just a few minutes. 

If you take your valuables outside your room, don’t leave them unattended. This applies especially to your laptop. One tip is to carry it around in a bag larger than a laptop case so it doesn’t catch the eyes of would-be thieves so easily.

It’s worth considering investing in a small safe for your room if you have jewellery or a passport you want to keep secure.

Make a list of any valuables, including makes and serial numbers. Keep copies of important documents such as your insurance policy. And make a note of any numbers you need to call should you need to cancel bank cards or credit cards.