What to Know When Moving Into a College Dorm Room

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We received an e-mail from a college student who had just been accepted at her preferred school. While she was excited about the opportunity, she was a little scared about moving to college, primarily because she didn't know any other students and she was moving far from her home. After much debating, she decided to try living in a dorm, at least for her first year.

If you're in this position and are just about to move to a new city, in a new state or even a new country, then you may also want to consider living on campus for the first few terms. This will give you time to get to know the city or town, find friends who may make suitable roommates and to know exactly how much school, and living on your own, costs.

What Does the Residence Provide?

After you've been accepted into the residence, you need to find out what the dorm will provide. Will your room have the bare necessities: a bed, desk, wardrobe/closet, dresser, curtains? Make sure you get a list of all the items provided, including whether linens, pillows, and hangers are included. If not, you'll need to add this to your "must bring" list.

What Can I Bring With Me?

After you've determined what the residence will provide, and you want to bring more furniture, it's a good idea to ask if this is allowed. If you are permitted to bring additional pieces, you'll need to find out if the extra stuff will fit in the space. Most residence rooms are small, especially if you're sharing the space with a roommate. Also, most schools won't allow you to remove existing furniture from the rooms, so your things must fit the space without overcrowding.

Can I Bring Electronics and Appliances?

You'll need to check with the administrative staff at the residence to find out if you can bring a TV, hotplate or small fridge. Some residences have a limited amount of electrical output per room which will determine the type and amount of electronics and appliances allowed. In addition, items such as hotplates or microwaves may be considered a potential fire hazard and not be allowed. Ask for a list of items that are allowed and a list of items not permitted so that you're not stuck on moving day trying to find a home for that beloved television or hotplate.

If a residence does allow larger items, there may still be a restriction on the number of electronics or appliances allowed per room. For instance, if your new roommate is also bringing a small fridge, the residence may not allow you to bring one as well. Again, check before you move it.

What Kind of Facilities Will the Residence Have?

Every residence is different. You can expect that all will have laundry facilities (ask how laundry fees are charged--by card or coins), a communal kitchen--although not all will provide dishes--or little eating area. Again ask specifically what is included in your residence fee, what's not, and where locally you can get things done. For instance, is there a bank on campus? Are the bathrooms communal? What about groceries? Does your fee include food at the cafeteria? Can you cook your own meals at the residence? Are pots and pans, dish soap and cleaning products provided?

Do I Need to Worry About Insurance?

Like any apartment, the property owners are not responsible for damage or loss of your things, whether through a natural disaster or through theft. Make sure you obtain home insurance, particularly if you have any valuables, such as a computer or television. If you're unsure of where to obtain insurance, find out if you can be insured under your parents' home plan, and if not, talk to the residence administration staff - they should be able to direct you to a good, local agent.

What Other Questions Should I Ask My College Before I Move?

  • Can I ship some of my stuff to my dorm before I move?
  • How do I get to the residence and where do I park?
  • Will there be people there to help me?
  • Do I need to label all my stuff?
  • How much time do I have to move in?
  • What other activities will happen on moving day?