university students unpack boxes

How to prepare your belongings for first time University

Since A-level results day earlier this month, teens around the country are planning their next stage of life. Embarking to university or any other educational institution to live for the first time is daunting and exciting in equal measure. Aside from the prospect of getting to know new routines, responsibilities and people, students need to be fully equipped for independent life. Then before you know it you’ll be packing up for the holidays. So for many students, some kind of storage will need to play a part. We look at what to take and what to store.

What to take

Starting with a kit list, there are some things that should be part of every packing itinerary. There are some obvious things – clothes and toiletries (a bit like going on an extended holiday). But living away from the family home means identifying some essentials that you may have been taking for granted.


We’re not going to go into detail about how many pairs of pants you need, or remind you to pack your toothbrush! Instead, think about a standard week and what you need to achieve over that space of time.

  • Documentation – These are things like registration documents, accommodation contracts, diving licence, NI number, loan documents, bank cards, and student discount cards. If you can scan documents in to keep online versions, then leave original paperwork at home. In addition, keep a record of telephone numbers or email contacts for what to do if you loose any of your documentation. 
  • Electronics – You’re unlikely to forget devices like your phone, laptop, or games consoles. The things to double check are that you have the right charging cables, adaptors, and a couple of extension leads and additional USB charging ports. Depending on how recently kitted out your accommodation is, you might need to supplement older buildings. Also, think about amplification – have you got used to using speaker systems around your family home that might not be coming with you? In this case you might need to think about buying something for your room.
  • Stationary – You can buy a lot of this once you’ve arrived, and your course details will outline what you should make sure you have. 


  • Appliances – Some of this will depend on whether you’re moving into catered or self-catered accommodation. Your uni documents will give you the detail, but if they’re not included, you might need to bring a toaster, kettle, desk lamp and hair styling kit.
  • Kitchen Kit – This is all the non-electric stuff that you’ll need in a kitchen or kitchenette. A couple of mugs, glasses, plates, bowls, cutlery sets, washing up liquid and sponges, a chopping board, food prep knives, saucepan, frying plan, tin opener, bottle opener, food storage tubs and a water bottle for taking out and about. 
  • Soft furnishings – The main thing is bedding and bed covers. Take two sets because remember you should change bedding at least every fortnight! You might want to also want to take a small laundry sack to help you to keep your room a bit tidier. It’s down to personal preference!

Home Comforts

Living away from home can feel scary and alien, no matter how much fun you’re having! So a few home comforts are really important in creating that feeling of sanctuary in your uni room. 

  • Photos – From friends and family to band and film posters, pictures of things that are important to you will transform what may be a small grey box into your personal space. 
  • Mattress topper – It’s not strictly necessary, but uni mattresses are unlikely to be the most high calibre! With a decent mattress topper, your bed will be that much more comfy and you’ll get better sleep. 
  • Decor – You don’t have to have a designer room. Just some non-functional additions. We’ve mentioned a desk lamp, but how about a softer lamp for bride your bed? Additional cushions, throws or fairy lights will help to give a cosy feel. Just leave the candles at home!
  • Sports kit – Keeping active is fantastic for maintaining mental health in times of change. So don’t forget things like swimming kit, football boots, running trainers etc. 

What to store

Are you moving out of home completely, or can you store unused items in your family home? Uni rooms don’t have a lot of space, so your wardrobe won’t be able to hold a whole year’s worth of clothes. Similarly, do you like the idea of cycling but know that you’re a bit fair weather. Realistically you’re unlikely to actually do this until the spring? You may not want to bring things like printers – there are already printing facilities at uni. This is just a waste of your room space. You may even have larger pieces of furniture or accessories that you think you want to keep in your life long term but don’t need at uni. This is all stuff to store. As a long term strategy, it is helpful to consider self storage near to your uni location. In terms of seasonal items like clothing and sports kit, this means that you can keep things easily accessible without feeling like you’re drowning in your room. 

Packing and unpacking

Even if you try to pack light, you’ll be amazed at how much stuff there is to take with you to uni. Pack smart to optimise the space you use in boxes and cases. You can wrap lamps in bedding, tuck cutlery into shoes. All of this will help to reduce the number of boxes that you have to lug from car to room. It’s useful to use a rucksack or two to pack, since you can then use these during term time. In addition, use boxes and bin liners that break down to store flat on top of a wardrobe or under the bed. You can then use them again when it comes to packing again. Some rooms must be vacated every holiday. In these situations, local self storage can really make life easier. 

Getting Settled

When you first arrive at your accommodation, spend a bit of time getting settled. It’s tempting to get straight out there to explore your surroundings. But making sure that your room is ready for that first night’s sleep will make you feel settled and secure. Once your bed is ready, get out there and meet some people. Let the adventures begin! 

If you think that storage will ease life at uni, you may be surprised at the affordable options available. Explore our solutions here.

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