A Fresher’s Guide To Moving Into Student Accommodation

Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert)

Written by Sarah Jones (Student Money Expert) on January 21, 2019

Updated January 14, 2021


If you’re one of the almost half a million new students attending university this year, you’ll no doubt have a lot to think about, from the courses you’ll take to the people you might meet. If you plan on living away from home, getting ready to move into student accommodation is probably high on your list. To help, we’ve put together a short guide on what to do to make sure your move goes smoothly.

Getting ready to move

The more you can do to prepare for your move to university the better because you’ll feel less overwhelmed when you get there:

  • Open a student bank account if you haven’t already. Student accounts offer perks and incentives including interest-free overdrafts.
  • Figure out how much you can afford to spend while you’re at university, creating a budget and sticking to it.
  • Read anything sent through from your university, including welcome emails and social media posts. These will let you know what is going on with regards to your course and across the university as a whole, including what’s happening during fresher’s week.
  • Reach out to other students. If your university sets up specific Facebook groups, for example, join them so you can start up conversations and get to know people before you arrive.

Take advantage of any help and support the university offers, especially if you aren’t sure of something as this will help your transition to university life a much easier one. Don’t suffer in silence thinking everyone else knows what’s going on – they’re likely just as confused as you.

Getting ready to move

As the move day approaches, you’ll need to start packing. The university will usually give you a list of what they’ll be providing and what you’ll need to bring, so use this as a guide to what you need to pack, creating a checklist, so you don’t forget anything and breaking the list down into different sections:

  • Bedroom: You’ll need bedding including pillows, sheets and a duvet and quilt covers. Make sure you take two sets of each so you can swap them over on laundry day. It’s a good idea to take an extra blanket or throw too in case your room is cold.
  • Clothing: The clothes you pack will depend on what you like to wear but don’t forget to take plenty of essentials like underwear and items that are suitable for different seasons, including accessories like umbrellas, hats and gloves.
  • Bathroom: You’ll need bath towels and hand towels. As with the sheets, it’s a good idea to take two sets. You’ll also need toiletries, though these can easily be bought once you arrive too.
  • Personal items: These might include family photos or posters you want to put on your walls as well as any keepsakes that will make you feel less far away from home.
  • Desk area: This area needs to be set up for studying so you’ll want your laptop or computer, a good desk lamp and stationery, including pens, pencils and notepads (all of which you’ll need for your lectures too).
  • Kitchen: This depends on whether you have self-catering accommodation, in which case you may need to take kitchen appliances like kettles and toasters as well as plates, glasses and cutlery. If they university supplies these, you’ll still need things for storing and preparing food – think Tupperware, cling film, and foil – though these can be bought once you arrive, as can the food itself.
  • Laundry: Things like washing powder and fabric conditioner you can buy when you get there, but a strong laundry basket that’s suitable for carrying to and from the laundry room is an essential, as is a small drying rack.
  • Important documents: You’ll need these to open bank accounts or register for the doctor so don’t forget them. Take your passport, driving license, national insurance number, NHS medical card and, for overseas students, details of any health insurance. Take at least four passport photos too for use on student ID cards etc. along with any letters relating to your university offer, accommodation or student loans.

While you might be tempted to pack everything you own ‘just in case’, remember, you’re moving into a small room with limited storage. Pack only what you think you’ll need. You can always buy what you’ve forgotten or get it on your next trip home.

Moving in

It’s a good idea to move into your student accommodation as soon as possible. Not only will this give you a chance to get organised and start feeling at home, but it will also provide you with more opportunities to meet your flatmates and start forming friendships. Remember, your flatmates are probably as nervous as you so be proactive when it comes to forming friendships, going out of your way to introduce yourself even if it’s daunting.

Once you’ve unpacked, start exploring. Find the laundry room, your friend’s flats live in, and the student bar. Register at the medical centre. Work out how you’ll get around, including to lectures, and where in the local area you can go shopping or out to eat.

Much of this will be explained during fresher’s week so try to attend any scheduled events, asking any questions you have.

The first days in student accommodation

Once you’ve moved in, visit the supermarket and stock up on food. This way, you won’t be relying on takeaways once your courses start because you’re too busy to shop and there’s nothing in the cupboard. Also, talk to your flatmates and agree on a set of house rules. These don’t have to be overly complicated but could include whether you’ll share common food items such as bread and milk and how you’ll keep shared areas clean and tidy.

Once rules are set, it’s important to keep to them as not doing so can lead to issues with flatmates, meaning your time in student accommodation isn’t as much fun as it could otherwise be.

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