Going to Uni: The Complete Checklist!

It’s almost time for the next step in your academic journey and this is a big one! Moving to a new city, meeting new friends, living away from family, and learning new skills with professionals in your field. The University chapter of your life is sure to be one to remember. 

Amidst all the excitement is usually a level of stress at the thought of packing up your life into boxes and starting again somewhere new. It can be daunting, especially when parents are equally elated and distraught at you leaving their care - perhaps for the first time!

To help out, here’s our ultimate guide to help with shopping and packing for university. We’ve also included survival tips at the end to help keep the peace in what could be your first experience in shared accommodation.

First thing, first! You’ve got into university because of your study skills so let’s keep the focus on developing your knowledge using these study supplies:

Study Supplies

Laptop, Tablet or Hybrid


  • A very handy productivity tool for coursework and revision. Hopefully, your parents or guardians are in a position to buy your own one if you don’t have one already. 
  • Don’t worry if you can’t get your own, the university will have computers available across campus although this can limit your productivity as they are often all taken in the library during normal hours.
  • Taking notes in lectures has changed from the classic whiteboard, pen and paper days. Lecture slides are often available in advance of lectures and annotating them during the lesson is a very efficient way of taking clean and clear notes in a fast-paced lecture.
  • It doesn’t need to be fancy, just capable of holding a decent battery life and running applications for all of your work and revision notes. 
  • A touchscreen with a stylus is a bonus for annotating directly on lecture notes.

Printer / Scanner, Ink & Paper


  • Buying a printer is not essential, but for the price of university printing (10p B&W, 20p Colour A4 page) it may be worth having the freedom to print your own lecture notes allowing you to stay organised at home without having to run via the library before a lecture or a deadline!
  • If you are using a lot of literature, textbooks and written work it is handy to have a scanner to be able to back it up digitally and highlight or annotate areas without damaging books that may be rented from the library. 
  • There are also apps on most phones now that can do this with a phone camera with decent results!



  • This may seem like more of a luxury gadget than a study supply, but they can really improve your productivity during a late-night study session while your housemates are being loud, in a busy library or on a train heading home to see your parents.
  • These days noise cancelling headphones are slightly more affordable, so we recommend investing in a pair that can drown out the audio from outside distractions
  • We recommend a pair of over-ear headphones to better isolate yourself from a busy environment to aid your focus, especially if you are easily distracted.

Useful Software

  • Spotify / Apple Music (£5.99/month for students)
  • Grammarly Premium account (great if you struggle with spelling and typing accurately. It can even suggest alternative phrasing to change the tone).
  • Microsoft Office (Student edition) - these industry-standard productivity tools are usually heavily discounted for students, but Google Workspace is a free online version that is compatible in most cases. 
  • Nebo / Notability - free note-making App for iPad and tablet users where you can import documents and annotate them for lectures.
  • Unidays, Student Beans Apps - Make use of your student status and claim discounts!
  • Cashback Apps - Green Jinn and Shopmium can often give you up to 100% cash back on promotional items when you upload your shopping receipt. 

Most of the time the software needed for these courses is installed on computers in your faculty building but it helps to be able to hone your skills in your free time. They may be available to install on your own device or access remotely if they are compatible.


  • Ring binders for each module.
  • Hole punch
  • Writing pad
  • Black ball-point pens (for exams!)
  • Scientific calculator (if required for your subject)
  • Specialist art & drawing supplies (if required for your subject)

Bedroom Supplies

Don’t get your hopes up too much! The standard size for a university hall’s bedrooms is only around 6.5 square metres. They usually include as standard:

  • A single bed & mattress
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Wardrobe
  • Chest of Drawers
  • Bedside Table
  • Bedroom Bin (check in advance)

Your room will usually be kitted out with some basics, including a bed and mattress, a wardrobe, a desk and a chair. But you need to pack the things that make it feel like home. You should take:

  • Purse, cards, ID, passport, important documents etc.
  • Single-size duvet, duvet cover and sheets (Usually not provided)
  • Mattress protector (Prevents any damage leading to a fine!)
  • Pillows and pillowcases (Usually not provided)
  • Things to spruce up your room, like a rug and some cushions
  • Decorations to make you feel more at home. Things that hang on door handles, photo frames, and fairy lights are some examples
  • Photos, posters, and Blu Tack
  • Clothes, shoes, and coat hangers (they may give you some, but only a few!)
  • A clothing rack for drying and a laundry basket
  • Medicine (paracetamol is a fresher's must)
  • Bedroom bin (double-check, as this might be provided) 
  • Bedroom lamp (double-check, as this might be provided)
  • A houseplant for some greenery!  

Some non-essential items that will definitely come in handy for work (and play!) include:

  • Small plug-in or portable Bluetooth speaker
  • A monitor as a second screen for your laptop
  • A TV for the living room or common space

Bathroom Supplies

Check whether your accommodation is en-suite or shared. If it’s shared, you might end up wanting to split the cost of things like toilet rolls later down the line. To start off with, take:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Face wash & facecloth
  • Hand soap
  • Toilet cleaner, bleach, toilet brush
  • Towels and hand towels
  • Toilet rolls
  • Hair dryer (if applicable)
  • Manual or electric razor
  • Flip flops, sliders or crocs! (walking between the bedroom and bathroom)

Kitchen Supplies

Most halls provide a toaster and a kettle (in addition to your oven), but check what you get before you go. Many won’t provide things like microwaves, and you might want to club in together with your flatmates for this once you’re a bit more settled.

 The essentials you'll need are:

  • 2 mugs and 2 glasses
  • 1 small & 1 large saucepan (with lid) and 1 non-stick frying pan
  • A chopping board
  • A large baking tray
  • 2 sets of cutlery 
  • Large kitchen knife & a small paring knife
  • 2 plates & 2 bowls
  • 1L measuring jug
  • Digital scales
  • 2 tea towels
  • Bin bags, sandwich bags, foil, and cling film
  • Utensils you need. A wooden spoon or silicon spatula, slotted spatula, can opener, bottle opener, scissors and a peeler. Silicon tongs are also really handy!
  • 3 different-sized Tupperware containers to save money bringing leftovers to class for lunch!
  • Cupboard essentials, like teabags, baked beans, and pasta, to get you through the first few days.

When you first arrive and get unpacked, head out for a walk to visit the local shops for some essentials like bread and milk. It’s the perfect way to see the local area and get your bearings.

Some non-essentials that might level up your cooking game, if your family have them spare, could be:

  • A student-friendly cookbook! 
  • Toastie maker / George Forman-style grill
  • Rice cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Smoothie maker or blender
  • Air Fryer
  • Microwave

Be careful, these items could make you the most popular person in the building! 

Shared Space Etiquette

For many of you, university will be the first time you’ve lived with others away from family for more than a couple of weeks. That’s ok! It may be an adjustment, but you will figure out your house dynamic over time and you could become friends for life. 

Remember each student has come from different house rules and standards of behaviour, but some end up abusing their first taste of independence and neglecting others which can lead to an uncomfortable atmosphere if not kept in check.  

Don’t be that person who people curse under their breath! Be considerate and communicate calmly and honestly if you have a gripe with someone. Here are some specific tips for areas that can often become flashpoints in daily houseshare living:

General Cleaning

Contributing to cleaning can keep the peace or cause unnecessary friction in a shared space if you are not pulling your weight. 

As a general rule, put things back where you took them from and if you cause a mess or spill something, it's your responsibility to clean it up straight away. Pick up some slack when you have time if there are some clean plates that need put away or bins taken out for example. Remember and calmly communicate with your housemates about any issues you may have - it’s the healthiest way to live together.

Clean space is not only more hygienic but translates to a better mood and living environment. Not to mention, universities may do weekly checks to see if you are upholding a certain standard of cleanliness demanded in the housing contract. If you all chip in the job becomes very easy. 

Try setting up a cleaning rota where each housemate has a task to clean one section of the shared areas per week on a rotating basis. Putting a £1 coin in a jar every week is also a good way to fund shared necessities like toilet rolls, washing up liquid, disinfectant and sponges. You may use it for essential food items too. 


Shared bathrooms are the most intimate rooms you have to share. Absolute privacy should be respected by everyone, for everyone. 

One of the most common contentions in the bathroom is using other people's products. Now, not many people will complain, or even notice, if you need some toothpaste to get you through the morning until you buy some - but others have expensive, specialist products that you should not use without specifically asking, even if they are left out in the open. You should be prepared to be told “No!”. 

Never (ever!) go digging someone else’s bathroom, bedroom or cupboard for something without asking first. 

Im sure you are aware by now, it’s also good manners to clean up after yourself in the bathroom. That means after shaving, washing, brushing your teeth, and most of all, visiting the toilet. A light-hearted sign on the back of the door bathroom cubicle door reminds housemates about cleaning up.

It only takes a minute – so get into the habit of doing it. Pretty soon you will be doing it automatically without thinking. No one wants to clean up someone else’s mess, so you end up starting a vicious cycle of not cleaning because the previous person didn’t either…you can tell that doesn’t end well. 


Showers can be limited in house-sharing environments. Hopefully, it’s not just one shower between 5 people, but on a busy morning, it can feel like you are the last person in the world to get your turn! 

Naturally, between 7 am and 8 am on weekdays is prime time for showering before class. If you manage to get in during this time, be mindful that others could be waiting to hear you leave and don’t take longer than 10 minutes during this "rush hour".

On Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s also a mad rush to freshen up before a social event. To avoid stress, schedule your showers outside these times, and you should be fine. Otherwise, expect a knock on the door if you’ve been too long!

Toilet Paper 

No longer will you benefit from visits of the “toilet paper fairy”. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t just fall from the heavens to appear in the bathroom…the COVID pandemic made that clear!

It makes sense to share the responsibility of buying a large multipack on rotation from the supermarket or buying some sustainable TP from a delivery service that drops it off regularly. Try to sort this out on day one.

Nobody wants to be the person caught out when the last roll is finished, so I’d recommend stashing a few hidden away in storage for when emergency strikes! That’s your indication to make the pilgrimage to the shops.


Hot Water

Each house delivers hot water in it’s own way. Combi boilers and electric showers never usually run out - but if you have a limited hot water tank you must be careful to not get greedy with your bathing time.

That means that if you are lucky enough to have a bath, they are probably best enjoyed very infrequently to avoid affecting others. If you run one in the evening, there should be enough time to replenish the hot water by shower time the next day. 


The kitchen is one of the most contentious areas as it’s the most used. It’s important to decide early on how far you are willing to go to share equipment, cooking duties and food items. 

Everyone will have their eating preferences so it is rare to share many meals in your first year - but it’s smart to share essentials like butter, milk and bread to save space and prevent waste. If you tend to be a late-night fridge raider, try to be fair in replacing food you used that isn’t completely yours the very next day. 

If you can’t wash up as you go or before you eat, be mindful that someone may want to start cooking and so at the very least arrange dirty pots and pans by the sink in a neat pile, leaving plenty of space for others to start their meal. 

When you get to know your housemates better, you could end up sharing cooking responsibilities. It’s a good way of socialising and saving energy, so it’s worth at least suggesting to try once per week, perhaps for a Sunday roast! 



Depending on what you bring, you may be more or less precious of your own equipment in a shared kitchen. What’s important is to be mindful of everyone's preferences and always default to asking before taking. Most people will be happy to share what they have.

Putting money together to share some cutlery, pots, pans or a microwave is a good solution to keeping the peace but usually, there will still be times you might use someone's spatula if you can’t find your own. Remember to wash it up straight away and put it back where you left it - that’s far less annoying than finding it covered in sauce when you need it most. 

Depending on space, you could be inundated with several of the same items. Put some away in storage if you all have the essentials and share them with your housemates. It’s far easier to keep up with the washing up if you have less utensils. Sub-consciously you know you need to wash something straight away if it’s the only one available. This saves a lot of arguments and washing up liquid!


Fridge Space

You will be provided with a fridge, which usually becomes a warzone after the first few weeks of term. If you manage to move around the cans of beer enough to fit some food inside, it can help to come up with some ground rules for sharing the shelves.

Firstly, if there are some equally sized shelves that match the number of residents - it’s an easy solution to take a shelf each. It becomes more complicated when this is mismatched but lay down the ground rules from day one. 

It’s so easy to get carried away on the shopping trip, especially if you’ve made the pilgrimage to Asda on the bus and want to make it worth the journey. Do your bit by not buying too many fridge items at once, encroaching on another person's shelf is a serious offence! 

Consider getting a balance of frozen and fresh ingredients to use your share of the freezer space too. Tinned items keep for ages and so are a great solution to keep various ingredients in your cupboard.



Clean crockery will almost certainly become a rare sight once the term gets into full swing. Consequently, there will be a steep rise in people eating pasta straight from the pan - then it’s not long after you devolve into using twigs as chopsticks because there are no clean forks! 

Some keep their crockery to themselves for this reason, but in general when there is a shared supply - make sure you wash up as soon as you are done with cutlery and plates. It can be done so quickly if you don’t give the food a chance to dry out - so learn this habit quickly and it will stay with you forever! Trust me!

As for pots and pans, try to keep the kitchen space free for other people to use and as you found it. Don’t use someone else items unless you have asked, especially if you plan to leave them dirty until you’ve finished watching that Netflix episode.

Good Luck!

That’s it! You are now well-equipped to take the first few weeks of university living in your stride, and then your new digs will begin to feel like home and you may never want to leave! 

Remember you are not alone in adjusting to all aspects of university life - embrace the new experience and share in its perks and pains with your new peers. These will be the best years of your lives!

Author's profile picture

Russell Kilgour

16th August

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