WHAT to TAKE to university

WHAT to TAKE to university

what-to-take-to-university-dog in a box
Sorry, you’ll have to leave the dog at home.

Wondering what to bring to university? Read on for a helpful breakdown and checklist.

Moving away to university is exciting. You have a new place to live, new people to meet, and a new chapter of your life beginning. And you finally get out from under your parent’s roof.

Once you have confirmed your place and your initial excitement dies down, you will probably start thinking about the more practical aspects of moving away from home. And one of the first things you will have to work out is what to take to university.

It can be hard to know exactly what you are going to need when you first move away to uni. You need to consider things like how much space there is in your accommodation, what you are willing to share with others, and what you want to keep safely locked in your room. Do you really need to bring seven pairs of trainers with you? How embarrassing will it be to show up with that cuddly toy you are somehow still fond of? And of course, how are you going to get it all there?

All valid questions.

Most people bring way more than they need and end up wishing they had left a bunch of stuff at home. My advice is to bring the bare necessities with you at first, then go home and grab any missing items later once you’ve figured out you can’t live without them.

Here’s a what to take to university checklist for a basic “student starter kit” that will cover most people’s typical needs. Use it as a starting point to figure out what you should bring with you, but feel free to deviate if you know of a better alternative for you.

What to take to university checklist


  • You will want pillows, a duvet, and two sets of covers so you can wash and alternate them.
  • Collapsible laundry basket. This will stop your floor disappearing under a pile of dirty clothes.
  • Clothes horse. This is optional as one may be supplied with your accommodation or your flatmates may bring ones that they are happy to share. In the unlikely event that nobody in your flat brings one, you and your new living companions can chip in and buy a couple for everybody to use.
  • Clothes hangers. Your accommodation should come with a wardrobe, but the wardrobe won’t necessarily include hangers.

Kitchen stuff

Less is more with kitchen stuff. You don’t need a family set of cutlery and crockery just for yourself – there probably won’t be enough cupboard space for it all and the more you bring, the more you will have to wash up. As washing up is officially the second worst way to spend your time after ironing, let’s aim to keep it to a minimum.

Pots and pans (1 of each)

  • Frying pan or wok (a wok is more versatile)
  • Saucepans (one large and one small or medium)
  • Veg steamer that fits on one of your saucepans
  • Baking tray

Cooking utensils (1 of each)

  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula (silicone ones are best as they don’t scratch your pans and are easy to clean)
  • Basic all-purpose chef’s knife (it is worth getting a blade cover to prevent the cutting edge from going blunt by banging against other items in the kitchen drawer)
  • Paring knife. Sometimes a chef’s knife is too big for the task at hand and you need something smaller.
  • Chopping board (stick to wood or plastic only – other materials can blunt your knives)
  • Measuring jug (useful for all sorts of stuff)
  • Silicone brush

Crockery and cutlery (2 of each)

  • Small plate
  • Large plate
  • Bowl
  • Cup / mug
  • Drinking glasses
  • Knife, fork, spoon, teaspoon

Other kitchen items

  • Bottle opener & corkscrew (a “waiter’s friend” which includes both is the best option)
  • Can opener
  • Tupperware (various sizes)
  • Scissors
  • Cling film & aluminium foil
  • Oven gloves
  • Tea towels
  • Washing up liquid, brush, pan scourer, dishcloth or sponge
  • Spray bottle of kitchen cleaner / disinfectant


I know you’re going to ignore this one, but try not to bring your entire wardrobe with you. You don’t need more than a couple of week’s worth of clothes if you rotate your wardrobe according to the season. If you are starting in September, leave the summer stuff at home; you won’t need it for a few months. Likewise, you can take your winter clothes home at Easter.

Other useful items

  • Extension leads. There’s never enough plug sockets and they’re never where you want them to be, so bring a couple of these bad boys with you.
  • Lighting in student accommodation can be pretty basic, or just in the wrong place. A simple lamp can work wonders either as a study/reading light, a bedside lamp or, you know,  just for ambience.
  • Bluetooth speaker. These are cheap, take up little space, and are great for music, podcasts, parties, or drowning out a noisy flatmate or the party next door.
  • Toiletries including some basic first aid items such as painkillers and plasters, plus any medication you need.
  • Towels. A hand towel and a bath towel should suffice. Bonus points if you bring two of each so you can wash and alternate them.
  • Personal ID e.g. your passport or driving license. (Essential for enrolment and often necessary to gain entry to social events involving alcohol.)
  • Tea / coffee / hot chocolate / squash. Whatever your poison is, bring it with you.
  • Two or three days’ worth of meals and snacks. Just bring enough to get you through the first couple of days without having to find the supermarket. Don’t bring so much that you take up all the cupboard space and annoy your new flatmates. Some cooking oil will be useful to have.
  • Stuff to personalise your room so it feels like home. Don’t go crazy here. A couple of posters and personal knick-knacks should be enough to start with.

Study materials

There’s no need to bring a full stationery set and a shelf full of folders with you. A couple of notebooks and pens will do. A laptop is highly advisable and a worthwhile investment if you don’t already have one. Look for something small and easy to carry with long battery life. You don’t need the latest Macbook Pro, no matter how much you want it.

Most universities allow students to download free copies of Microsoft Office with their student account. Even if you don’t get access to this software, Google’s app suite is a good free alternative that should suit most people’s needs, so don’t fork out extra for the software apps retailers love to upsell. You don’t need them.

That should be all you need to get you up and running when you first arrive at university without overloading the car or forcing you to make an emergency shopping trip on the day you arrive.

Feel free to bring items that aren’t on this list if you know for sure you will need them. Just remember that anything you leave in a communal area rather than your room will probably get used by your flatmates, so think carefully about what you want to bring and where you will keep it.

You are highly likely to overshoot and bring too much with you. If you are in doubt about something, leave it at home. You can always bring it later if you really need it, but try living without it first. It’s amazing how a change of environment can make things we thought we couldn’t live without suddenly seem unimportant.

Good luck in your new home.