How to Budget for a University Move

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Budgeting Your Move to University

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Going to university can cost you a lot of money. Tuition is one thing, but what about the costs of moving into a dorm? When moving in, you need to consider all the expenses. This can be the first budget that a freshman student keeps, so it is important to remember all of the little costs that young adults often overlook.


Rent in dorms can be a discount compared to the local market for apartments. That said, it still can be expensive. It is usually charged as a flat rate added to your tuition. Be sure to find out what it includes, utility-wise. Usually electricity, cable, internet, and heat are part of the school's rent charges.

Renting a fridge

If you didn't bring your own mini-fridge, you can rent one once you are at school. This will make the moving process easier but may cost you more money. Go through the vendor your school recommends to make sure the rented fridge complies with the university's safety standards.

New furniture

A dorm room should have minimal furniture and students shouldn't be afraid to ask for some of their parents' old items. If you really need to buy a new desk or chair, it is going to cost you. Make sure you keep track of the items' dimensions and your available dorm space to avoid instant buyer's remorse when your new table is too big for your dorm.

Meal plan

An additional cost of living in a dorm is buying a meal plan with your school. You pay once a semester for a set number of meals from the local dining hall. Most students buy bigger plans than what they need. Remember to avoid wasting money on restaurants and takeout if you have bought a meal plan. If you rather spend money on varied takeout foods, don't buy a meal plan at all.

Disposable household items

There are a variety of items that you took for granted when you were a kid in your parent's home. These things that you  use and throw out cost money. You need to budget for them on a monthly basis to get an idea of how much you really spend living in your dorm. Some disposable items include:
  • food
  • paper plates
  • napkins
  • tissues
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • soap
  • toothpaste
  • shampoo


Occasionally laundry services are included in your dorm's rent, but sometimes they are coin-operated machines. Keep track of how often you need to wash your clothes and how much you spend on laundry in a typical month.

School supplies

You're at university to go to class, if you haven't forgotten. You need to bring different supplies to each class. You probably brought your own school supplies but invariably there will be something more you need to buy to make classes easier. It could be a printer or a graphing calculator, both of which could cost $100 each. You may just need some new notebooks, which should be a relatively small expense. If you need a new laptop you could be spending over $1,000. Be sure to utilize any university resources that can eliminate the need for these items. Many schools provide printing and computer labs in their student centres.


University textbooks are horribly overpriced, there's no getting around it. You can easily spend over a thousand dollars on textbooks alone in one full semester. Here are some quick tips to reduce this expense:
  • See if you can find online discounts for the correct books needed for each class
  • Remember that previously used books cannot be returned for much money at the end of the semester
  • Most new (to you) books can be returned to bookstores for a portion of what you paid for them, but only if they're in good condition
  • Sometimes returning even the most pristine books will be worthless if the class moves onto a newer edition
  • Ask former students if the books are really necessary for the class


Don't forget the cost of transportation when budging for your move into a dorm. You probably won't have a car, so take some time to find a bus or taxi service that works with your new home. You should also at least chip in to pay for the ride that took you to school on moving day.

Shipping costs

If you shipped any of your items to your school ahead of you, that is going to cost some additional money. Bigger items always cost more, so hopefully you kept your load light.

Paying for moving services

It is unlikely that you'll need to pay for professional movers during your university move since the school usually provides volunteers and your friends and family also can help. You still may want to pay anyone who did help you in food or money. And if you did hire movers, you should have gotten a quote and had a good idea what the price would be before the move.

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on August 26, 2014 - Moving Expert
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