Things to take to uni

student money saving tips - things to take to uniGetting ready to go to university for the first time can be a daunting prospect.  Knowing what you need to take is tricky, and if you’re on a budget you really don’t want to be shelling out for items that you’ll never use.

Here are a few guidelines for things to consider when you’re preparing to leave, and a quick checklist of essential things to take to uni, bearing in mind you should ONLY take stuff you’re likely to need when you get there.  I’m really looking at students at the beginning of their first year, but the rules and checklists hold true throughout your time at uni.  If you’re moving into rented accommodation off-campus, though, you’ll need to find out how many of the items listed below are provided in your house/flat, as you may not need to take everything.

The first point to remember is that you should NOT buy pristine new sets of pots and pans, and plates and cutlery etc.  Many items are likely to be used/misused/broken by your flatmates, and will probably last about a month!  Similarly with bedding and towels – save the Egyptian cotton colour-coordinated stuff for your first real home.  Student halls don’t warrant it.  Buy the cheapest easy care polycotton sheets, and cheap bath towels from the supermarket.

Here’s a suggested list of basic items that you should invest in.


Kitchen stuff

  • 1 saucepan with lid (not too small, ovenproof if possible – this saves buying a casserole dish),
  • 1 frying pan,
  • 1 wooden spoon,
  • 1 seive or colander (both if you must),
  • I big spoon or ladle for serving
  • 1 baking tray/roasting tin
  • 2 large plates, 2 bowls, 4 mugs, 4 glasses (tumblers)
  • 2 sets of knives, forks, spoons, teaspoons.
  • 2 chopping knives
  • 1 tin opener
  • 1 jug (a pyrex measuring jug serves multiple purposes)
  • 2 tea towels (you never know – they might get used!)
  • Bottle of washing up liquid
  • Pack J-Cloths or similar
  • Cling film

Especially in the first year, space in the kitchen will be limited, so don’t go overboard with the kitchen equipment.  You will probably end up sharing anyway.


Bedroom stuff:

  • Alarm clock, always useful as a backup if you use your phone as an alarm, in case of phone problems
  • Two sets of bedding – duvet cover, sheet, pillowcase.
  • 1 duvet, 1 pillow
  • 2 bath towels
  • Box of washing powder, and instructions on how to use a washing machine!
  • Clothes (beware tiny wardrobes and limited drawer space – take as little as you think you’ll need)
  • Shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Clothes hangers – often forgotten, but most places don’t provide these


Other things:

PC or laptop – Computers are often provided in the library at many universities, but many students find that having their own computer invaluable.  Make sure you know how to BACK IT UP.

Laundry basket – you can get great pop-up or foldaway laundry baskets that zip or fold flat when not in use and you can use them to take your washing to the launderette (or home to mum at the end of term!)

Mobile phone and charger – this goes without saying.  It’s the only way you’ll get to stay in touch with friends and family while you’re away

TV licence – needed if you are in a student house with a TV, or will be taking your own TV.  IT IS NEEDED if you intend to watch live TV on your computer – however if you only watch catchup services then you don’t need one.

Insurance – check your house insurance – you may need to take out separate student insurance – make sure it covers your laptop and other electronic equipment, even if you’re taking it out of your room (e.g. to lectures or the library)

ID (e.g. driving licence) and a copy of the Student Finance tuition fees loan letter – these are likely to be needed when you register

Medical card – then you can register with a local doctor (there’ll probably be one on campus – the university will advise)

Arrange on-line banking with your bank.  Make sure your parents have the account details in case they need to put money into your account to bail you out in an emergency!

NUS or ISIC card – make sure you arrange to get hold of one of these when you get to uni.  With an NUS card you’ll get discounts on lots of stuff from loads of retailers, including Amazon, Topshop/Topman and ASOS, as well as discounts on railcards, driving lessons, eating out and cinema tickets.  Check out the NUS extra website for details.  The ISIC is an international student identity card and is recognised around the world – get details from the ISIC website.

You are likely to be doing lots of walking – you’ll need some comfortable WATERPROOF shoes and a good coat.  This sounds boringly sensible, but you’ll appreciate them when you’re walking to lectures the other side of campus in the snow!


Things NOT to do:

DON’T invest up-front in things you might not need.  Don’t buy a bike until you know that you’ll be making use of it, and if you do, don’t arrive with a shiny new ‘please steal me’ affair – low key and low budget will deter thieves.

Don’t register for health clubs, gyms etc before you go – wait until you get there, see the lie of the land and what kind of facilities you’ll really need before forking out. You may find you end up joining clubs or societies that mean you don’t need a gym membership as well.

Don’t buy every textbook on the reading list brand new.  Checkout what you can get used from Amazon or other suppliers.  You might find that you don’t need every book on the list at all – wait until you start the course to find out which are essential and which you won’t use or can borrow from the library occasionally.


Things that might be useful

So – I hope some of the ideas in this article will be helpful when you’re getting ready to go to uni for the first time, and I’ve given you some good student money saving ideas. Do let us know if you have any other essential items you think should be added to this list of things to take to uni.

Here are a couple of items that might be useful for you.  Take a look at this great book from Amazon by recent ex-student Lucy Tobin. It covers everything you need to know about uni life and how to survive it, from getting through freshers week, coping with exams, organising accommodation, eating well but cheaply, and many more things. Also, the foldaway laundry basket is good value, sturdy and space-saving – one of the best budget options I’ve found.

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