Dorm Life Packing List: Your College Buddy

Heading off to college this year? It’s about time! Let iMoving help you with a one stop shop for your packing needs. Read on and sip a cold one while we simplify your life.

Dorm Life Packing List: Your College Buddy

Moving to university is an exciting time in life to be proud of. Leaving your parents home where everything is simple and always lying around the house can be daunting, but we are here with your basic bitch list so even the mascara won’t be left behind.

Optimizing Your Dorm Space and Living Comfortably

When thinking about the dorm life, know that your space will be quite small and in most cases, shared with at least one more roommate. The key here is minimalism to make your new study atmosphere and home feel cozy and inviting.

Functionality, cost, space and quality should all be considered when you decide whether or not that random item you think you need should be thrown into the carton.

Living in a small, confined space shared with a total stranger can be difficult even for the best of us. Try to bond with your new roommate ahead of time and understand who is planning to bring which shared items.

You don’t need two Nespresso machines, kettles, or two sets of pots and pans. Save time, money and space by discussing ahead of time.

Having a college packing list ahead of time is bound to save you extra beer money, saving on small items you can bring from your family’s home.

You have enough on your mind moving to a new city and atmosphere with new classmates and a totally different schedule. Let us help you with the basics.

How To Build a Personalized Packing List

  • Think about the items you use in your daily life from each room of your current residence, from sheets, pillows, to bathroom essentials such as make-up, hair supplies, soap and shampoo, to kitchen utensils. We recommend really thinking through your day and writing down each item you grab and may be able to pack and take with you instead of having to repurchase it on campus.
  • Think electronics. What chargers are necessary for all your devices for fun and for learning
  • Give thought to the items in your current home that bring you relaxation. Maybe it's the pumpkin scented candle from your grandma, the gummy bears from your favorite store, or a special pillow you have had for years. Whatever these items are, ensure they aren’t left behind.
  • Consider minimizing your life and leaving the excess at home. Dorms are TINY. Don’t get lost in a whirlwind of clothing you never wear or books you’ve already read. Size down and your lifestyle will size up.

Bathroom Essentials

Bringing as many of the basics as you can from home will save you hundreds of dollars down the road. Remember that dorms come empty so think about the small items at home that bring you comfort such as hooks and storage basics and ensure to throw them in the box as well.

Bathrooms in dorms are sometimes shared with an entire floor or building. Know your layout ahead of time and plan storage solutions like a shower caddy and towel robes that can be worn from dorm to shower.

Never ever walk barefoot in a public shower unless fungus is what you’re going for. Buy extra shower flip flops that dry quickly to avoid this gross floor.

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Razor
  • Liquid Soap for body
  • Liquid soap for hand washing
  • Hair brush
  • Tooth brush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Bath Mat
  • Towel Set
  • Slippers for after shower comfort
  • Toilet Brush
  • Toilet Paper
  • Make-up
  • Hair Dryer
  • Hamper
  • First aid kit

Bedroom Comforts

The most important space of your entire college life will always be your bed. Whether you are after an all nighter studying the night away, or a giant ranger the frat next store likes to throw, your bedroom will be home for the next few years.

  • Sheets (Pro-tip bring at least 3 sets as you never know they crazy things that happen in college dorms)
  • Comforter
  • Pillows
  • Mattress Topper (if you’re spoiled and don’t want a basic mattress)
  • Full Body Mirror
  • Hangers
  • Laundry Basket
  • Decor that brings you positive vibrations
  • Speaker system
  • Bedside Rug
  • Artwork for the walls
  • Curtains and a nightstand will come in handy, (but make sure to measure first)
  • Storage solutions
  • Throw blanket
  • Plants that you won’t end up killing

Furniture Pieces

Usually not much furniture is needed to be brought from outside as dorms tend to provide the basics. Double check with your university before bringing too many items.

A few key pieces that can end up really saving you valuable space is a small desk with lots of storage drawers, a seat that also doubles as storage, and a shoe holder that fits small and goes up against a wall in a wasted corner space. 

Space Saver Tip: Buy under the bed storage bags that can be air compressed to save room when the winter clothes are not in need. Your dorm closet is bound to be extremely small and every ounce of space is critical.

Kitchen Wonders

The kitchen is a holy place for most people. While most of us won’t admit that we lived on mac and cheese for four years of college life, there are others that really enjoyed cooking for friends in college.

Depending on who you are and the space in your kitchen (if your dorm even has one) will depend on if the following list is relevant for you. We recommend getting in touch with your future dorm-mate if possible to avoid bringing duplicate items for shared spaces.

Pro tip: If you dorm or frat offers a shared kitchen, bring a storage rack that can be easily carried of all your grains (in non-spill containers) and spices so that you can go back and forth between rooms simply when cooking.

Extra Tip- Go for microwave friendly, easy wash, and freezer safe materials. 

  • Chopping board
  • Good quality knives
  • Silverware set
  • Plates and bowls
  • Microwave
  • Toaster oven
  • Coffee maker (this may be by far the most important item in any dorm room for productive study habits)
  • Containers to save leftovers for tomorrow’s meals
  • Mixer, spatula and other basic tools (don’t go too wild)
  • Strainer (let's be honest you are likely to live on pasta)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Pots and pans (again don’t go too wild here)

Parents Tip: Bring along basic food items such as all the grains (pasta, rice, quinoa) and sauces to have a nice base to start off with.


We are sure you are a pro at electronics, but just so that you don’t forget anything, we have created this checklist to help.

The most annoying thing that can happen is bringing all your gadgets and then realizing you've forgotten the chargers at home, so double check you have everything packed up.

  • Laptop and charger
  • Phone and two chargers (one for home and one in your school bag)
  • Kindle (save on buying those hefty textbooks and download them here instead)
  • Earphones
  • Speaker system

Miscellaneous Items

  • College parties can get loud and wild, don’t forget the earplugs!
  • Eye mask for those long nights where your roommate needs to pull an all nighter studying, but you have an early class.
  • Digital alarm clock can help you spend less screen time on your phone especially in the morning hours.
  • Cordless vacuum is likely to be a handy tool as I can count on one hand the number of times my roommate and I actually washed the floors. At least give the appearance of clean living with your Dyson up on the wall.
  • Fluffy area rug is bound to make your space feel more cozy and inviting. Think that you will have many long nights cooped up in your dorm. The warmer it feels with soft objects, the more productive you are likely to be here. 
  • Reusable water bottle and coffee tumbler will come in handy on a daily basis and make you live a more sustainable lifestyle. Nothing eats away at your food budget like having a coffee out everyday. Try to avoid this and bring your fresh brewed joe from home.
  • Pepper Spray might seem a bit overkill, but think that you are in a new area in a new city and having this in the bottom of your purse for going out is going to give you a better sense of security. 
  • Tapestry Wall hanging could be a nice touch since most dorms don’t allow you to actually paint the walls. Make sure you agree with your roommate on colors.
  • Foldable chairs will come in handy whether you are hosting a pregame or a study crew. There will be many fun nights that you will be able to host thanks to these chairs.

Final Thoughts

There’s no worse feeling than feeling unprepared for college life together with all the other new changes happening in your life. The more you plan ahead now, the simpler your first days of classes and club initiations will be. iMoving is happy to help you with your full dorm life checklist.

Rachel Kaplan

Rachel has spent the last few years writing for moving companies while actually moving across the globe. After many years of moving between many states in the US, she moved abroad to try the remote work life. She’s a pro at moving all her things with her dog and hundreds of plants. Thankfully she’s a minimalist so moves aren’t too much of an issue.

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