How to Have a Successful First Move In Day: A Survivor’s Guide

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Moving in to your first dorm room or apartment is such an exciting adventure that can easily turn into a hot mess, if you don’t prepare for it.. When I was moving in for the first time in 2014, there wasn’t a lot of guides or checklists on the internet to help freshmen prepare for the big day. I created this guide to hopefully fill the void and help future students make move-in day go as smoothly as possible. While move in day can be an extremely stressful day, as long as you prepared for it early in the summer then you’ll have no issues to worry about!

How to Have a Succesful First Move in Day: A Survivor's Guide

Start Early

Nothing’s worst than trying to move your whole life into a small apartment in the hot sun and with a ton of other people doing the exact same thing. Trust me when I tell you that it’s not fun at all, unless you want to meet friends as you sweat your butt off. On the big day, go ahead and start early. Wake up early and hit the road before everyone else does and before the sun starts shining. By starting early, you’ll be able to beat the heat and the traffic that comes along with every college move-in day. Plus the good thing is that if you’re the first roommate in the apartment, you’ll get your first choice of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. When I first moved, I was the last one to move into the apartment and I didn’t get my desired choice of cabinet space. Not that it was totally bad, but I would’ve preferred to have kitchen shelves that were closer to the floor. (aka I’m really short and I hate having to use a step stool to reach everything.)

Move-in as early as you can to avoid the summer heat and the long lines. Click To Tweet

Bring a Cart

Some dorm apartments will have carts for you to use, but they are usually first-come, first serve and there are only a few for a couple hundred of students. I would highly recommend getting to your dorm complex early enough to get a cart or rent a cart from a place like U-Haul or something similar. The first time that I moved into my first apartment, I had a cart and it was so useful carrying my big or awkward pieces to my room. Plus you won’t have to break your back by doing all of the heavy lifting yourself!

There's never enough carts to go around so bring your own or be there 1st. Click To Tweet

Rearrange the existing furniture first

I won’t even lie that the first time that I moved, my family and I totally didn’t move the pre-existing furniture before moving all of my stuff into the room. We ended up having to shove of the items back into the hallway and stepping over the other items to rearrange the furniture to my liking. I love having my bed near a window for sunlight as well as to have a place to put my décor pieces that I wake up too. Also before moving all of your stuff into your new bedroom, you’ll want to complete the inspection checklist and mark any damage that you visibly see. This is the only contract of proof of what the room looked like before you move in so you’ll want to be very thoroughly in completing the paperwork. It’ll save your behind from any hidden charges at the end of the semester.

Rearrange the pre-existing furniture before you start carrying up your stuff. Click To Tweet

Wait to go grocery shopping

The task of grocery shopping truly depends on what dorm style that you have. I had an apartment style dorm so we had a fully functioning kitchen and roomy living room to share with four girls. But that is not the typical case for a freshmen dorm room. The typical dorm room style is sharing a room with two people and having a community bathroom that you share with the whole floor. If you do have this style, then you’ll want to think of quick snacks or things you can easily make in a small space. But if you have the apartment style that I had, then you have the option to truly go grocery shopping. I would wait to do this until after everyone has moved in that way you can split up the fridge evenly and possibly share the bigger items, such as milk or eggs.

Shop for dorm room supplies early

Early bird gets the worm, or at least that’s what the saying goes and it’s totally true for dorm room shopping. If you want to get the best items, then start shopping at the beginning to middle of summer. As the summer comes to an end, you’ll end up getting the last scraps of what the stores have and you don’t want that.

[Related] The Ultimate Guide to Dorm Essentials that Most People Forget 

Early bird gets the worm...the saying is totally true for dorm room shopping. Click To Tweet

Start packing as early as possible

Avoid the stress of move-in day by packing as much stuff as you can before the big day. Packing up all of your stuff and loading it into the car early on will save you a ton of stress and the frenzy of possibly forgetting any important items. When you start packing, make sure to make a checklist that you can cross off as you pack up each item. I would always recommend putting your items into large totes so that they are easy to carry up to your new living situation. It’ll make your life so much easier in the long run!

Double-check any paperwork & any bills before the official move-in day

You don’t want to be the student that shows up on move-in day and can’t move-in because you didn’t complete all of the paperwork or pay any outstanding bills. This doesn’t usually happen, but I would just double check everything before the big day.

Connect with your roommates before the big day

Being able to chat with your future roommates will allow you to meet them and learn as much as you can about them before moving in. You can also discuss any questions that you might have, such as if they will have overnight guests, and coordinate the room décor if you want. Another big question you’ll want to ask if you both want to split the bigger items, such as a large trash can or mini fridge. Talking to your future roommate over the summer will ease your anxiety of living with a new person as well as being able to make your first college friend.

Hit up your future roommates b4 move-in day to avoid the awkward meeting phase. Click To Tweet

Welcome to the end of this guide! Hopefully this guide helped you see the light at the end of tunnel called Move-In Day. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment and share to all of your social media outlets. Sharing is caring and it would truly help me grow my little internet space that I call home.

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Moving into your first place outside of your parent’s home is such a great feeling. It’s finally a place where you can make your own rules, decorate how you like, and eat whatever you want at any time of the night. While you gain freedom, you also gain a different kind of responsibility that I’m sure you are totally ready for!

Do you have any funny move-in day stories or any tips to give  students moving away from home for the first time?

  • starting early never fails regardless what u do! thanks for the tips!

    • Makaela

      Totally! Being prepared and starting early is the key to life honestly. Your welcome and thank you for reading

  • Pam

    I never had the chance to dorm, but love these suggestions for when you’re moving out! DEFINITELY don’t buy food before you’re settled in- it just ends up being more to carry around and you’re right- you won’t really know what you have space for. I can see how connecting with roomates ahead of time can be helpful, too.

    • Makaela

      I could’ve skipped the dorm room living but I do love having my own apartment to come home too. Yes I totally agree with you! Any extra weight when moving is a bad idea haha

  • Oh my gosh I have had my fair share of moving experiences, and it’s NEVER easy! I’ve moved to college, to different apartments, back home, to Hawaii, to China, DC, and to Canada! Moving is my least favourite thing, but experiencing new things and starting fresh is a favourite of mine!

    • Makaela

      Oh my gosh! That is a lot of moving to do but I bet it was so much fun seeing new places with different people. I used to move a lot when my dad was in the Army but not as much now.

  • Blair villanueva

    I remember when I move-in to my condo and it was so exhausting. It is better to plan ahead and schedule the move-in for less hassle.

    • Makaela

      Yes I totally agree! I recently moved as well and I totally follow most of the rules outlined in this post.

  • Great list! My daughter just asked me what was my favorite point in life, besides having my kids, and I told her college. I lived at school and had so much fun. Enjoy yourself!

    • Makaela

      Thank you! I can definitely say it’s a lot of fun being in college because having to move and taking tests!

  • I don’t think I’m moving anytime soon but I’m bookmarking this post. Because knowing me, I’d probably do groceries right away and leave the packing until last minute!

    • Makaela

      Thank you! I’m glad that it has helped you in a small way! I always want to procrastinate when it comes to moving

  • Meeting your roommates before moving in is a good idea. I like how you say wait to go grocery shopping but it makes a lot of sense to hold off.

    • Makaela

      If you can then it such a good way to get to know one another without it being super awkward. And I’m so glad that you agreed 😊

  • the sophia diaries

    I 100% agree with all these tips!!! I definitely think making sure the room is placed properly before you put things in is important! It’ll also be less heavy to move things after 😉

    • Makaela

      Thank you! Someone else totally understands the importance of rearranging beforehand lol

  • These are definitely tips that everyone should go by. After moving a couple times I finally learned from my mistakes. I find that keeping a separate box of ‘survival essentials’ allows you more time to unpack and rest too!

    • Makaela

      Me too! I have so many stories of my moving challenges and experiences. Ohhhhh that’s a good tip to keep in mind! That way you can your time unpacking

  • Great tips! It is always a good idea do thing early!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Makaela

      Thank you for reading and I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

  • My first ever move in day is in less than a month and I’m excited but nervous SOMETHING will happen.

    • Makaela

      No it won’t! As long you prepare it’ll be just fine!

  • Ugh! I moved 10 times in my 20s! I so could’ve used this post back then!

    • Makaela

      Totally! I’ve moved around a lot when I was a kid so I feel you there. You live and learn for sure

  • Awesome tips! I prefer to do it the easy way too, I really some time to plan things out before I execute! I love that you have a system and you are very organized!

    Pammy –

    • Makaela

      Yes I do! I need a plan before the action or else I’m all over the place. Thank you so much! Hopefully I can help other people be just as organized

  • love this post and it is a great time for me to read it 🙂

    • Makaela

      Thank you! I’m glad that this post helped you

  • My first move-in, we got there super early and snagged one of the few carts and kept a close eye on it all day. Damn, that was a sweaty day though. Bring a lot of water!

    • Makaela

      That’s pretty awesome that worked out for you so well! Definitely staying hydrated during move in is super important.

  • Le

    Planning ahead is a must ! I just purchased everything once I arrived at school since I went across country. My school actually sent us emails with our room mates info so we were communicating on Myspace and Facebook months before meeting so it was great.

    • Makaela

      Totally! Thank you for agreeing with me. That’s really smart about talking to each other a lot before moving and waiting to get supplies since it was closer to move in. Less to lug around campus for sure!

  • This is really good advice!

    • Makaela

      Thanks! Glad that you think so!

  • My friend wasn’t able to talk to her roommate until the first day and it was a disaster! She ended up having to switch rooms.

    • Makaela

      Yea I find that it’s a lot easier when you talk to your roommate beforehand!

  • I remember moving day to be such a cluster when I was in college. I was thankful for all the people that were out there to help me. I took so many trips to my car! I didn’t talk to my roommate until move-in day and it ended up working out. We roomed together for two years. I definitely lucked out.

    • Makaela

      That’s awesome that it ended up working with your roommate and you! It could’ve been a disaster and yes moving is so chaotic! I always try to get people to help me move so less trips overall.

  • Agreed with all of these! Especially moving in as early as possible. There were SO many people around in the afternoon on my move-in day, but I was already packed and lounging in my bed which made me feel so much better and made the day less stressful.

    Kayla |

    • Makaela

      Totally! I’m glad you agree on the points that I made (:

  • These seem like great tips! I commute to school so I’ve never had to worry about move-in day but I’m sure some college kids will find this SO helpful!

    • Makaela

      That’s awesome! I lived too far away from school to commute to make that work. But these tips were so useful when I move!