Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Lauren McKinnie. Lauren is a contributing writer and media associate for Allied Van Lines. She regularly produces content for a variety of travel and moving blogs. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.
College is an exciting time in the life of any young person. Aside from the fact that you will be experiencing newfound freedom, you will also begin learning life skills and independence that can set you up for success for many years to come.
While preparing to set off for life on your own, it is important that you plan properly, especially if you will be attending college far from home. If you’re moving across the country for college, these ten tips will prove essential.
1. Decide whether to live in a dorm or an apartment.
As you debate housing options, you may consider living in the dorms or in an apartment, as both are popular with students. Although apartments are typically cheaper, there are a few important things to keep in mind before making a decision on housing:
- Your school may require you to live on campus.
- Apartments may not be furnished, but dorms always are.
- You may have to commute to campus if you live in an apartment.
- Utilities may not be included in rent, but all utilities are included in the dorms.
- You’ll have to cook your own meals if you live in an apartment or pay extra to get on the meal plan.
If you would like a little more privacy or space than you’d get in a dorm room, though, an apartment may be the better option.
2. Pack accordingly.
It is important to pack all the essentials when moving across the country for college because you won’t have many opportunities to pick up any items you’ve forgotten at home. To ensure you have room for everything you need—especially if you’re moving to an unfurnished apartment—it's a good idea to use a moving truck. Additionally, hiring a moving company can make moving day much easier and less stressful. If you’re moving into the dorms, you may be able to drive everything to campus yourself; you won’t need any furniture or anything that wouldn’t fit in the back of an SUV.
3. Pack smart.
There are many valuable tips to help you pack smart and utilize the space you have while traveling to college. For instance, keeping your clothes on their hangers and lying them out flat during the move saves time as all you will have to do to “unpack” is hang them up in your closet. You can save space by packing your bedding inside of pillowcases. You might also consider buying a few rolls of plastic wrap; it can be useful for making sure shampoo and beauty products don’t spill or leak during the trip and it can also be used to keep your jewelry from getting tangled while in transit.
4. Don’t forget the essentials.
Some items are easy to forget about and leave behind during the moving process. Spending money to replace what you already have is never ideal, plus, college budgets can be tight. To prevent unnecessary expenses, here are a few items that are often overlooked while packing:
- Rain boots
- Desk lamps
- USB cords
5. Consider your wardrobe.
Make sure to consider the climate of your new location when preparing to move. The weather could be much different than what you're used to, so you may need to buy warmer or cooler articles of clothing. Pack the right type of clothes for your new city so that you aren’t stuck with only t-shirts and shorts on a cold day or long pants in the middle of a heat wave. If your new city is known for unusual weather, pack a variety of clothing items so that you will be prepared for sudden changes in temperature. Layers are your friend.
6. Follow these travel tips.
The ride on moving day can be long and stressful, especially if you're moving all the way across the country. A few travel tips to keep in mind to help the trip go smoother include:
- Check the forecast for moving day so you know what driving conditions will be like.
- Use a GPS or a map to ensure you get to your destination without getting lost.
- Plan rest stops (and overnight stops) ahead of time to save money.
- Bring snacks and plenty of water!
7. Unpack slowly.
Unpacking can be stressful. You'll need to find a place for all of your belongings, and you’ll likely already be tired from the trip. A good rule of thumb is to unpack what you need first, and then unpack one room at a time to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed. If you’re moving into a dorm room, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting all of your unpacking done in a day, but if you’re headed for an apartment, give yourself time to get organized.
8. Get to know the campus.
Print out a campus map and figure out where each of your classes is located. Understanding the layout of campus will make you more comfortable on your first day and will help you save time in the morning since you’ll be less likely to get lost. Map out when you need to leave your apartment or dorm to get to class on time, take note of your closest food options, and generally take time to familiarize yourself with important locations: the library, the campus health clinic, the gym, etc.
9. Use caution when finding roommates.
If you’re going to live off campus, living with a roommate can help keep costs manageable. However, if you choose a roommate you don’t know much about, it could cause problems later on. If you are planning on sharing an apartment (and your landlord doesn’t require credit checks for all tenants), asking your potential roommate to get a credit check is never a bad idea. You can (and should) also check out potential roommates on social media to get an idea of their personalities. When you have more information at your disposal, you can make better decisions.
10. Know your breaks.
Use your school’s academic calendar to look up when long weekends, spring break, and holiday breaks are ahead of time. This will allow you plenty of time to plan trips back home to visit friends and family. You might be able to buy cheaper plane tickets home than you would if you made a last-minute decision or save even more money by arranging rides with friends. Travel isn’t cheap; planning ahead can save you hundreds!
College is an investment that pays back. It is estimated that a degree adds around a million dollars to a person's lifetime salary earnings. Although moving across the country to obtain such a degree is scary, it can prove well worth it. As you prepare for the big day, these ten tips will help ensure the move goes smoothly and that you are adequately prepared to start college on a positive note.