With results day looming just 24 hours away from where I am, university is sitting heavily on my mind. Whilst heading off and leaving home is exciting, it is also rather daunting and so expensive! From new clothes, bed sheets, towels, bathroom stuff and homeware to cooking utensils, kitchenware and a tonne of books, it is clearly not going to be easy to budget in, and we can’t ignore all the student loans, bursaries and debt that is constantly on a uni student’s mind.
It is for this reason I decided to see if I could get ready to go to university is the most affordable manner I could. I have been saving for years in order to have money when I get to uni, so why would I have to spend so much of this before I even got there?! So here we go, here is how I have managed to prepare for uni in a (hopefully) affordable manner!
- Your ID – Valid passport and/or driver’s license
- University acceptance letter, course acceptane letter and scholarship/bursary details
- Accommodation contract and check to see if you need to take our insurance for your items or if you are covered
- Vaccination history and prescription details, talk to your GP before you leave
- Bank debit card – see what deals you can get here: best student bank accounts
- Student finance details
Make sure to get a good deal when you set up a student bank account, for example you can get a four year free 16-25 year rail pass just for moving banks to Santander! Don’t put it off or ignore it, it won’t take long and will benenfit you for sure. Also try to keep everything together in one folder, it makes it so much easier to know where all of your paperwork is!
- Mattress – usually provided
- Mattress topper – for comfort
- Duvet – make sure to get one that will keep you warm
- Pillows – One or two depending on your preference
- Duvet covers – Two sets if you don’t like washing!
- Pillow covers
- Cushion – something comforting, and you can put it on your chair
- Blanket – to snuggle up in when it gets cold
I already owned a mattress topper at home, so it was easy for me to take this to upgrade my uni bed! It also acts as a bed for someone to sleep on if you have a friend coming to stay. I also already owned an extra duvet so I took this to uni as well. My duvet covers I had been given as a birthday present the previous year and had decided to keep them unused, specifically for uni. I also packed a spare old set incase I ever washed the others! You can find a mattress topper from IKEA from £40.00, and duvet from as little as £3.00 also in IKEA.
I got two pillows from IKEA, I got a harder and a softer one, costing me £16 for both. I took a cushion from home which will double up as a cushion for my chair.
My blanket I got in TKMaxx for £16.99, It is super soft, afforable and machine washable. It goes with grey colour scheme and my duvet covers so I was easily won over. If you are going to a uni that is in a cold place (ie. up north), a blanket would be a greta idea.
- Chair and desk – provided
- Decorations – make sure to take lots of items that will make it feel homely such as fairylights, photos, quotes, posters, things to hang from door handles
- Coat hook – one to go over your (wardrobe) door
- Door stop – uni doors are usually heavy and it’s handy when you are feeing sociable
- Clothes horse/dryer/radiator attachment – This is handy when you have done a load of washing and you don’t want to pay for a dryer, or if you have wet clothes from the weather or damp towels after a shower
- Washing basket – stops you from getting clean and dirty clothes mixed up
- Storage boxes, hopefully these can fit under your bed or in a wardrobe, handy for packing up for coming home too.
- Rug – to make the room feel a little more exciting!
- Lamp – you don’t want to have the overhead lights on all the time
- Clock – essential!
- Extension cable – You won’t know how many sockets you will have until you arrive!
- Laptray – handy for revising in bed, or carrying food around!
To make the room I will be moving in to in September a little more cosy, the decorations I am taking include my collection of fairy lights from my room, I have printed some of my favourite photos using the FreePrints App and I have also got pegs and drawing pins to hang everything up! My favourite fairylights are off Amazon and are these elephant fairy lights, but I have seven sets, and you can find them fairly cheap in places like Primark, H&M, the Range or even Lidl. As well as this I have also purchased a rug from IKEA for £6.50 which I hope can make the room feel more cosy. Whislt a rug is definitely not essential, it was affordable, pretty and I liked it, it is even machine washable.
The over-the-door hooks I found in Primark for a pack of 3 for £2 and I already had a wooden elephant doorstop at home.
My washing basket I got from TKMaxx, it was a collapsable one that matches my blue and grey colour scheme!
Finally, the last decor items I purchased were this set of photo frames from Amazon. I decided to buy a few frames because they were in the sale and it would also minimise packaging and it meant that if in the first few weeks of uni, someone has a birthday, I have presents readily on hand – I could just frame a photo or quote.
My clock I already owned at home, it is sometimes best not to rely on your phone for an alarm in the morning, incase you can’t find it, turned off the alarms or just forget to charge it! I have a plug in clock which projects the time on the ceiling – reminding me I have to get up…
Whilst not essential, I would definitely recommend a lap tray, if you want to eat in your room not the kitchen or just have lots to carry, it will be super helpful, you can find them in IKEA (and pretty much anywhere) from as little as £2.00, I didn’t have one from home or get the chance to buy one, so I went without.
- Chair – provided
- Diary – essential
- Lined paper
- Blank paper
- Other stationery – ruler/calculator/coloured pens etc
- Laptop + charger + ethernet cable
- Camera (optional)
- Sticky notes/page markers
- Textbooks – check which ones you need
- Scissors and sellotape – you won’t realise but you suddenly need them!
Over my three month A-level summer, I have been on a mission to use up some of my ancient stationery, things such as felt tips and biros that I have owned for years. This would allow me to have new pens that will definitely work when I get to university and I won’t have to take hundreds of mix-and-match collections with me! But if you haven’t done this and you still have loads of semi-used pens at home, try and test them out and pack them up to take with you, there is no point wasting good stationery!
I bought a huge pack of pens (BIC biros) that I find nice to write with as they were SO much cheaper when bought in bulk. This was a great decision and means I won’t have to worry about replacing them anytime soon.
Highlighters, coloured pens, ruler, calculator, pencils and miscallaneous things that you will probably need in your pencil case. Obviously if you are doing more niche courses you may need protractors or other measuirng equipment too, make sure to check the requirements before you get to your first lecture! I bought Stabilo pastel highlighters, BIC coloured biros, found an old ruler and kept my scientific calculator from A-levels.
I got an 18 month diary from TKMaxx which begins at the start of the school year, it was much cheaper than any I have seen online or in stores like WHSmiths and it was pretty. I would recommend having a diary just so you can write down notes quickly, such as books you lecturer tells you to read, essays that or due, or maybe just a coffee date, as it os better sometimes not to rely on technology.
For lined paper, I went to the closing down sale of the office outlet near me, this allowed me to buy good quality lined paper for over half-price to keep me stocked up for a good few months. Have a look online at local deals and online sales as you are bound to find a good price somewhere for notebooks, notepads and other necessities. I also found pink lined paper and yellow too.
I would also recommend buying some sticky notes, as this will mean you can mark books and essays and easily find the page again! Keep an eye out in places like Lidl or Aldi, or just a ‘back to school’ sale where you can find a huge collection of things like this, or just have a rummage through some of your drawers, you might already have some.
I will be living in en-suite accomadation, as there was no option for a shared bathroom where I am going. This means I can leave all my bathroom stuff in there all the time. Make sure you know which you have! If you have a shared bathroom, you will be provided with a sink in your room (in most cases).
- Toothbrush and holder
- Towels (and head towel)
- Hand towel(s) and flannel
- Makeup, makeup remover, makeup brushes and cleaner (not my area of expertise)
- Bathroom mat – for when you get out of the shower
- Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner
- Medicine – Paracetemol, Ibuprofen, prescription meds etc.
- Contact lenses + fluid
- Moisturiser + skin care
- Razor + shaving stuff
- Loo roll!
- Air freshener – essential
- Other misc. stuff – nail varnish, makeup, etc.
My toothbrush holder is a ceramic pot I bought in Italy, it sounds fancy but it really isn’t! You could use a spare glass, or a toothbrush holder is only £3.00 in IKEA.
I bought a pack of 10 bamboo toothbrushes off amazon, they came plastic free and it means I am less likely to run out whilst I am at uni. The rest of my toiletries are from superdrug as these are cruelty free and student budget friendly.
My towels and bathroom mats were from home, as my mum said to ruin an old set not a new set – which makes sense. This means when I return home at christmas there shall be soft new towels waiting! If you don’t fancy this, Primark sell afforable towels so pop in and you might even get a matching set.
I am staying in self-catered hall from September (2019) which means I shall be cooking for myself, whilst I love cooking and I know how to cook I have made sure I have recipe books to take with me, as well as a recipe folder so I can write down any marvellous kitchen creations! I have this folder which has dividers and I find super helpful. The books I am taking are ‘Feed me Vegan’ by Lucy Watson, ‘The Wellness Rebel’ by Pixie Turner and… and I have made sure that the ingredients in these are student-budget friendly. If you do not know how to cook, make sure to check out a few easy recipes before you go! Also, make sure to check whether you are in catered or self-catered halls as this will make a big difference! I have also put some of my favourite recipes from home in to my recipe folder, this is a Kirties Allsop folder, with ready inserted dividerd (I renamed some) and plastic wallets!
I got cooking utensils from various places, some I was gifted for Christmas/birthday, but mostly I collected items gradually through the year. Do not be daunted by this list, as you will, most likely, be able to purchase all the items in the same place:
- Recipe books – you can’t live on pasta for a year
- Saucepan(s) with a lid
- Wok and/or Frying pan – non-stick is better
- Chopping board – make sure to have more than one as you will need to keep raw meat separte if you aren’t vegetarian!
- Sharp knife(s)
- Wooden spoon
- Cooking utensils (i.e. slotted spoon, whisk, spatula)
- Mixing bowl – one
- Weighing scales – optional
- Measuring jug
- Colander – to drain pasta and/or vegetables
- Vegetable peeler (for your five a day!)
- Cheese grater – optional
- Baking tray(s)
- Washing up brush/sponge
- Washing up liquid
- Plates/bowls – get a set, you’ll need more than one of each
- Cutlery – try finding a distinctive set so that you always know which are yours
- Tuppawear – to store/freeze meals when you cook more than one portion
- Clingfilm/beeswax wraps to keep food fresh in the fridge
- Jars – To store dry ingredients in such as rice/pasta/noodles etc.
- Shopping bags – you don’t want to be paying 5p a bag for the whole year!
- Bottle opener
- Binbags – you can’t rely on someone else providing them
- Tea towel – more than one, they will get ruined
- Kitchen roll – for the accidental spillages
- Oven gloves – you will need to be able to get the pizza out the oven somehow
- Cafetiere – optional – for the coffee lovers!
- Thermal cup – so you can take hot drinks to your lectures and around campus, to save money and the environment!
- Water bottle – to take to lectures with you and just generally handy
- Toastie machine/smoothie machine/rice cooker/steamer etc. (anything you’ll find handy)
I found two saucepans in a local charity shop for £1.00 each, I decided there was no point buying brand new pans when these were so cheap! Once I had cleaned them and washed them, they were as good as new anyway. I also had a wok with a lid from home which my parents no longer wanted.
I had a mini saucepan at home already, and on old wok that my parents gave to me; I would highly recommend a non-stick wok/frying pan as it will be so much easier to wash. IKEA have a good sauce pan set here and a frying pan here and a wok here . Mixing bowls will be handy if someone wants a homemade cake, or if you need to mix something like pancake mixture or, anything really! I found some in Aldi, but you can find them cheaply anywhere.
I decided not to take kitchen scales and hope the recipes I use are also in cups so I don’t need the weight of anything! My jug, I took an one from home which is probably older than me!
For cooking utensils I got the 5 piece set from IKEA (here) for just £3.00
The colander I got was in TKMaxx, but again you can find a cheap one from IKEA or other places easily too. Wilkinsons sell one for £3.00.
I found baking trays for £1.00 each in Asda and also purchased a roll of baking paper.
For washing up, I decided to get this brush, which you fill with washing up liquid, which makes cleaning your things much easier! I bought washing up liquid from for which was cruelty free and a very good price.
Plates and cutlery, I decided to get the mathcing set of crockery from IKEA, selecting a mixture of plates, bowls and mugs, this cost a total of around £15.00.
I have taken old tuppawear from home, but if you don’t have any, Lidl, IKEA, wilko and so many more places will be able to give you a set of different sizes. I also took Beeswax wraps and glass jars from home. As well as this I took some Bags for Life and a collection of tote bags for my shoppings trips when I get to uni.
I found a set of teatowels in Primark which were bright enough that I will recognise they are mine when I begin to share a kitchen with lots of others.
If this is too much to think about, why not look at the ready made sets, for example this one on Amazon has it all together already!
I will also be taking a lemon juicer (from Italy) but this is not a necessity, a sharp knife, measuring spoons and my favourite toastie machine, which I have had for ages and absolutely love!
I think it is a good idea to buy some basic food items before you go to uni, this means you won’t have to worry about the first few days having to go shopping. Make sure to find you local supermarket as soon as you can after your arrival, and if it is waitrose, maybe find another! On the day you move in and you are short of space, buy the food you need in a supermarket once you get there to save on space!
Here is an example of some cupboard staples that will help you survive:
- Pasta – go for extra fibre and get brown pasta if you like
- Rice – you can’t live on pasta every day…
- Grains – incase you get board of rice and pasta
- Noodles – rice or egg or any other variety to keep mixing up your meals
- Tinned tomatoes – put this in anything
- Pesto – makes a great addition to pasta source
- Tinned sweetcorn/beans/taco beans/chickpeas – great to chuck in a curry/any meal
- Curry sauces – sometimes you can’t cook a curry from scratch…
- Mango chutney – to go with the curry
- Tomato puree – A base of so many dinners
- Dried spices – I like cinnamon, garam masala, oregano, cumin, corriander and paprika
- Garlic powder – easier than chopping up a garlic
- Alpro UHT yoghurts – when you need pudding but have nothing else
- Custard – when you need pudding
- Tinned fruit – if you ever run out of fresh fruit
- Cereal – a quick and easy breakfast
- Oats – good for porridge and/or baking
- Part-bake rolls – not essential but handy if you don’t have any bread fresh (or frozen)
- Ketchup/salad cream/mayo
- Salt and pepper – you might as well season your food if you are going to be cooking!
- Soy sauce – not essential but it key to a good stir-fry!
- Jam/nut-butter/marmite – whatever you like on bread/toast
- Cereal bars/nuts/dried fruit – for when you get peckish in seminars or at 3am…
- Chocolate – this will constantly need replacing, so you might as well go to uni with a stash!
- Hot chocolate/tea bags/coffee – sometimes a warm drink is a necessity, and it is cheaper to make your own
Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to wash and clean your own things at uni, if you don’t not many people will come near you… Make sure you have these basic things which will mean your room and clothes and bathroom and kitchen area will be hygenic!
- Bleach – for the toilet
- Bathroom floor wipes – you’ll be surprised how dirty it gets
- Window/glass/surface cleaner – when you smear your mirrors or windows, or anything for that matter!
- Washing tablets
- Fabric softner – if you want soft bedding and towels
- Hand wash liquid – handy if you want to wash one or two items instead of paying for a washing means
- Antibac spray – just nice to know the kitchen surface is slightly more hygenic
Bathroom floor wipes may sound weird and not essential, but they are quick and easy to use and can make the bathroom smell nice rather than, well, bathroom-y. I found a pack of apple scented ones in for.
Here are a few extras which I couldn’t fit in to the above categories, doesn’t mean they are any less important!
- Clothes – remember to pack winter clothes as it may be summer holidays, but the first term will end at Christmas!
- Portable speaker – handy for your midnight raves with your flatmates
- Headphones – handy for travel or drowning out other people, or listening to the lecture you missed…
- USB memory stick – to transfer files between devices and acting as a backup
- Batteries – for the fairy lights, and any other devices such as a clock, that might need them!
- Hair-straighteners/Hair dryer etc.
- Storage methods – I took something that hangs in my wardrobe to provide me with more shelves, some collapsable boxes whihc act as dividers in my clothes draw and a metal basket to sit on my desk to keep it tidy. (All from IKEA)
Thank you so much for reading this (extremely) long list, I hope it can be of good use to you! Enjoy uni, and I hope everything is on this list for you!