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The Complete Guide to a College Move

Updated Oct 11, 2022

Updated Oct 11, 2022

Home > Moving > The Complete Guide to a College Move

For many of us, moving to a college dorm is our first big, solo move and the first time we move out of our childhood home. Some of us may have help from family and friends, while others may need to move alone. 

Regardless of which category you’re in, you must consider every angle when preparing for your college move to make the process go smoothly. In this article, we’ll share our complete guide to a college move so that you can prepare for your first year away. 

Print Your College’s Move-In Day Restrictions

Before planning any part of your college move, print out a copy of your college’s move-in day restrictions. Keep a copy of this on hand throughout every packing stage to ensure you don’t pack forbidden items, such as a small grill or knives. 

Highlight sections of your college’s move-in guide that detail where and how you can unload your belongings. For example, you may not be able to use a large trailer or U-Haul if there isn’t space for you to park them. You may also have a designated move-in time which you’ll need to adhere to and schedule for. 

After identifying the need to know items from your college move-in day restrictions, create a plan and college packing list for your move-in day. Make sure you include easily forgotten items, like a first aid kit, cleaning supplies, bathrobe, extension cords, toolkit, school supplies, toiletries, hangers, and a laundry basket. Give yourself extra time to leave so you don’t have to rush at the last minute. Account for an increase in traffic as you’ll be sharing the road with many other college kids moving into your dorm. 

Moving Options

After going over the details of move-in day and noting times and restrictions, you’ll want to consider how you’ll get your belongings from point a to point b. 

DIY Your Move

Moving yourself to college out of state is a possibility. If you have a car, you may be able to fit your belongings in your car and drive to your college. However, this likely won’t be sufficient if you have furniture you’re bringing unless you make multiple trips or rent a trailer. 

Alternatively, you may be able to travel by plane. However, you’ll need to ship many of your belongings and ditch any airline-restricted items. 

Ask Family and Friends for Help

Ask your family and friends for help moving to your new apartment or dorm room if possible. Your friends and family may even have a large vehicle that they’re willing to use to help you transfer your belongings. 

If you have a long-distance drive ahead of you, a second driver can be invaluable in saving you time and allowing you to drive farther and safely in a shorter amount of time. 

Rent a Moving Container

Many people forget about moving containers or moving pods, but they’re beneficial during a long cross-country move. 

When renting a moving container, you can pack your items into the large pod. Then, the company will pick it up and drop it off in your new city. The pod can also be a great storage container if you need additional storage in your new home. 

Before considering this option, double-check with the university or apartment complex that this is allowed. Some complexes or dorms may have regulations against using moving containers. 

Rent a U-Haul or Moving Truck

Another great do-it-yourself option is renting a U-Haul or moving truck. This will provide you with more space for transferring your belongings. 

However, you’ll need to budget for the daily fees for renting the truck, gas, and mileage fees. Some moving truck rentals may also have a mileage limit for how far you can drive the truck, so double-check that you’ll fall within that limit before renting a truck. 

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to do the heavy lifting and driving with this option, but it can save you money compared to renting a moving container or hiring a moving service. 

Hire a Professional Moving Company

Hiring moving professionals will likely be the most expensive option. However, you won’t need to drive your belongings, the move will go faster and more efficiently, and your belongings will be in safe hands if you hire a reputable company. 

Look for professional moving companies that specialize in moving to dorm rooms. Many student moving companies offer flat rates for picking up your belongings, storing them, and shipping them to your college. Some may even deliver the boxes right to your dorm room, saving you time, energy, and physical labor. 

If you’re making a huge cross-country move, you may save money hiring movers rather than making a move yourself. So, before you write off this option, gather a few quotes from moving companies specializing in college moves and compare this to the costs of moving your belongings yourself. 

Ship Your Belongings 

Another great way to move your belongings to college is by shipping them ahead of time. You won’t have to worry about packing, driving, or unpacking your belongings from a vehicle if you choose this option. 

If you opt to ship your belongings, be thorough with your research and consider the different ways to ship your belongings, including train, parcel carrier, or bus. We recommend only shipping your essentials this way and purchasing bulkier, less necessary items when you’re settled into your new home. 

Storage Options

If you’re moving back home for the summer between semesters, you won’t want to lug all your belongings back home with you. This can be expensive, tiresome, and unrealistic, so look to storage options instead

You may be able to rent a storage unit with a few college friends in the same situation or ask a local friend or family member with space if they can store some things for you over the summer. 

Declutter Your Belongings

As with any move, you’ll want to declutter your belongings thoroughly. Consider consolidating your belongings if you’re moving to college with a friend. If your roommate has a toaster already, it’s impractical for you to bring one too. So, check with your roommates about what they are bringing and what you can declutter or store rather than pack. 

If you want to hold onto these items, ask friends or family members if they would be willing to store a couple of boxes of your belongings that you don’t need now, but want in the future. 

Closing Thoughts

Moving to college is an exciting experience that many of us look forward to as the next chapter in our lives. Make your college experience smooth by creating a plan for your move-in day and decluttering items you don’t need or aren’t allowed to have. 

College is about experiences, not stuff, so make the most of your college experience by creating friendships and having fun living up the college life. Reduce your stress and chances of overwhelming your dorm or new place by decluttering and putting things into storage.

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