Moving for College: Your Ultimate Weekly Timeline and Checklist

by
Director of Strategic Solutions, TSI

For some students, moving to college can be as simple as packing a suitcase or two of clothing and other essentials, then they’re ready to go. For others, moving to college may involve furnishing an entire off-campus apartment and therefore a lot more work.

Regardless of your circumstances, you can’t just throw some stuff in a bag and hit the road. Moving to college takes planning, and the earlier you get started, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the summer with your friends before the big day instead of making a last-minute dash to the store to pick up that totally essential item you just remembered you needed. 

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country for college, use this college moving timeline and checklist to help you plan your college move and stay on track during the weeks leading up to the big day.

Eight weeks to go

  • Create a moving binder: File away all your important moving paperwork as well as any other documents you might need for when you get to school.
  • Start collecting packing supplies: Get boxes, packing tape, permanent markers, etc. The earlier you start collecting supplies, the better deals you’ll get. You may even find moving supplies for free online. Plus, you can get a head start on your packing and avoid a last-minute rush at the end of the summer.
  • Look for housing: If you plan to live off campus, this is so important to do early.
  • Research your moving options: Should you hire movers, ship your stuff separately, or move everything yourself? If you’re living in a dorm, most of your furniture will be provided and you can probably move yourself. But if you’re going to college in another state, you may want to ship a few boxes before you move. If you’re living off campus, you may need to hire movers or ship boxes and furniture separately.

Related: 10 Things to Do Before Moving Out of State for College

Six weeks to go

  • Check your dorm status: Confirm whether you’ve been approved for on-campus housing, and find out which dorm you’ll be living in.
  • Read the rules: Find out what’s allowed and not allowed in your dorm so you can pack accordingly.
  • Check your floor plan: Get an idea of how much space you’ll have. This will help you figure out how much to pack (or not pack).
  • Decide what will stay home: Overpacking is one of the most common mistakes freshmen report making when they first move to college.
  • Research meal plans: Do you need to purchase a meal plan on top of your regular dorm fees, or is it included?
  • Hire your moving team or rent your vehicle: If you plan to hire movers to help with furniture or are planning to book a truck and move yourself, now is the time to do it. Small-load furniture moves can take up to five to six weeks from booking to delivery.
  • Book accommodations: If you or your parents will need somewhere to stay overnight before, during, or after move-in day, book these accommodations well in advance—hotels book up quickly, and nothing cramps your first-day-of-college style like your parents crashing on your floor. 

* Bonus tip: If you do need movers, get quotes and book your moving day as early as possible, as the summer is one of the busiest moving seasons. Bigger moving companies often won’t take smaller moving projects, so look for companies that specialize in small moves.

Four weeks to go

  • Make arrangements for your keys: When and how are you picking up your keys for your dorm or off-campus housing?
  • Get help: Start asking friends and family for help packing and loading your car or moving van, especially if you have a lot of stuff you’re bringing.
  • Make your travel arrangements: If you’re moving to college across the country or out of state and aren’t planning on driving yourself, now is the time to book your flight, bus, or train tickets as well as any accommodations you haven’t booked yet.
  • Sort out any special needs: Contact your residence manager if you have any special needs so they can make any necessary arrangements to simplify your moving day.
  • Start packing: Collect and box items you know you’ll be bringing with you but won’t need over the next few weeks for life at home.

Related: How to Effectively Pack for College

Three weeks to go

  • Start shopping for college supplies: You’ll need bedding, toiletries, organization materials, and more. If you’re moving long distance, it may be easier to hold off and pick these items up when you arrive, but start making a list anyway.
  • Visit your doctor to refill any prescriptions: You might need these to take with you, and they may be harder to get once you’re at college if you’re moving far from home.
  • Keep packing: Tuck away any new purchases as you make them.

Related: Top 10 Dorm Must-Haves

Two weeks to go

  • Meet your roommate ahead of time, if you can: Some colleges will connect you with your roomie before the semester starts. This is a great opportunity to coordinate who will supply what or who will sleep in which bed or live in which room.
  • Start saying your goodbyes: Make plans with your friends, or better yet, throw a going away party.
  • Finalize your moving plan: Get directions to your dorm, read up on move-in day procedures, and look up parking regulations so you know where to park when you get there.
  • Keep packing: If you’re moving furniture, start disassembling, wrapping, and packing it for safe transport.

One week to go

  • Confirm your moving arrangements: If you hired movers, confirm the details and let them know if there have been any changes. If you rented a truck, confirm the pickup time and that you’re getting the size you asked for.
  • Double-check your student accounts: Make sure everything is in order with your payment plan.
  • Keep packing: Almost there!

The day before

  • Double-check your documents: Make sure you have everything you need in your moving binder and keep it close by on moving day.
  • Pack personal items: Pack any sentimental or valuable items you plan to bring with you separately in your personal vehicle or carry-on baggage (the fewer, the better).
  • Pack last-minute items: Everything should be packed now, but keep your essentials handy.

Related: 6 Tips for College Move-In Day (From a Student Who Just Finished Unpacking)

Move-in ready

Getting an early start on your planning is the easiest way to make sure your college move goes smoothly. A little work up front will save you a lot of work when move-in day comes around, leaving you with more time to relax with your friends before you start a new chapter.

Read the whole checklist here, and check out more moving day advice in our Student Life section.

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