5 Expenses I Didn’t Expect After Graduating

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Graduating is even harder than it looks.

I am one of the lucky ones who found my first job right out of school. But that secretly meant my living expenses suddenly skyrocketed after I had to buy a used car, move away from home and find and furnish an apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew those purchases would be way more expensive than the usual trip to the grocery store. But there were so many details I didn’t even realize existed. It was a crash course.

Now I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here are the random expenses that hit me after graduation, plus how I survived a rocky first few months so that I remained intact before my first adult paychecks could make an impact.

1. Moving Costs More Than You’d Think (But There’s a Hack for That)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

When I graduated I lived on campus, but I still somehow had a lot to move into my first apartment. The first thing I did was figure out if anyone could help me move. In return for snacks, my friends and family were happy to offer some manual labor. I got lucky!

But when I got a job, it ended up being located out of state. So to save money, I figured out I could rent a truck and tow my car behind it, and only hire movers to do the lifting. Getting your own vehicle and hiring labor separately for either end of your move (Hybrid Moving) costs less than Full Service moving and varies dramatically in price, but the average cost is around $660. It’s an added cost, but plenty of critical time saved, which I needed.

HireAHelper lets you compare the price of movers and customize everything, from how many people help you move to what arrival time window you’ll need. The more options you can compare for a moving process the better, as every move is going to be a little bit different.

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How can someone so young take on that expense? Well, I barely had enough to cover the move, but here’s another thing I learned — many employers offer reimbursement for moving expenses! Make a note to talk with your new employer and ask if they make a similar offer. It was a lifesaver when my company helped me out so that I could put my money toward the next round of expenses!

2. Crossing State Lines Can Mean More Fees

When you move to a new state, you’re going to have to get a new state license and plate for your car. The steps will be different depending on your move, but you can check out the process for your specific state online to know what prices you’re in for.

I had to fill out paperwork and pay fees for the process of:

  • Getting an updated title for my car
  • Printing a new plate
  • Creating a new license

All of it cost about $200! Plus, there was the time it took to go to the DMV, get my new emissions test and talk with my car insurance company about my new address and license information.

Call the DMV where you’ll be moving to ahead of time for clarification because it really is a lot to deal with when you’ve never done it before. It definitely was for me.

3. Even My Used Car Had a Major Price Tag

An approximation of how getting your first used car looks.

When I was in school, I used my parents’ old car to get around to my part-time jobs and the grocery store. But after college, I knew I had to get my own ride. I’d been saving up for a while and figured I could negotiate the price of the car down to what I had in my savings account, but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that.

The only thing I knew about buying a car before I walked into the first dealership was that you have to negotiate your final price, but fees and taxes can’t be worked down. The dealer had to explain things like document fees and dealer fees, plus the sales tax. (Again, every state will be a bit different, though some fees are the same across the board.)

It’s smart to save up some extra cash to cover these fees since they’re non-negotiable. While you’re getting your down payment together, take steps to research what these expenses will be so you can better plan for the total cost of a car.

Lastly, make sure you can handle the monthly payment. While I saved enough for a hefty down payment, I did have to take out a small loan to cover the rest. I automated my car payments through my bank once my regular paychecks started rolling in so I would never risk jeopardizing my credit score with late payments.

4. My First Student Loan Payment Shocked Me

The amount I had to take out in student loans wasn’t nearly as drastic as what some of my friends had to sign for—proud state school grad here—but there are ways those loans can pull you into paying more than you originally borrowed. For starters, I had no idea what capitalizing interest was. Basically, it’s interest that’s triggered by specific events and causes your monthly payment to not even make a dent in your overall debt. The debt increases while your payments stay the same.

I also began to panic when the loan bills came in. I hadn’t even earned my first paycheck with my new job yet, so how was I supposed to pay $350 a month after already paying for moving and buying a car?

That’s when I started to research how to consolidate my loans, and it really saved me. The Department of Education can consolidate multiple federal loans with one fixed interest rate, which streamlines the process and extends your repayment period. Rather than juggling multiple payments, I just had to worry about one.

You may also consider private refinancing if you’ve landed a steady job and worked to build a credit score of at least 690. This can both consolidate your loans and lower your interest rate — but isn’t necessarily always the best choice for recent grads. Do your research! 

(So I Learned a Budgeting Trick)

Sure, I’d managed my own bills in college, but between forthcoming loan payments and the costs of moving and a higher rent, I saw my expenses skyrocket. 

So I did some research online and began militantly tracking all of my income and expenses with a Google spreadsheet. I vowed to follow the 50/30/20 budget, which stipulates that half of my earnings pay fixed expenses, 20 percent goes to debts and savings, and 30 percent is reserved for variable expenses like groceries and light spending.

TheBalance.com

It’s tempting to have your paychecks come in and put all your extra cash toward one big thing like a savings account or credit card debt, but metering it out will help you tackle everything at once. Building my savings while decreasing my debt has helped me more in the long run than just choosing one over the other.

Now, my healthy savings account means a minor emergency like a car repair doesn’t trigger any anxiety. After upending my meager college savings to move, a steady and dependable tracking system soothed my nerves and helped me navigate this whole new world.

5. Filling Up a New Apartment Drains Your Wallet

The process of finding my apartment was easy since everything is online now. I could map out how far each apartment complex was from my work and not have to worry about it being too far away. Actually getting settled was a whole different story.

I had to buy all my own furniture, and you can bet that I didn’t have the money to do it all at once! For a little bit, my apartment décor consisted of a mattress on the floor and the most basic kitchen supplies. A good list of basic apartment supplies you’ll need will consist of:

  • Plates and bowls
  • At least two or three of each type of silverware
  • A trashcan
  • Dish soap and a sponge
  • Toilet paper
  • Basic cleaning supplies (e.g., broom, cleaning solution)

Don’t panic if your apartment doesn’t feel like home for a little while. Getting more than the basics will take time, but eventually, your new fancy budget will help you get everything on your list, and your apartment will gradually feel more like a home and less like a living space. 

Plus, if you have a roommate, that makes your quest to fill the space of essentials even easier! Me? I bought myself a couch from a killer Amazon Prime Day deal—and I’ve been treating myself with one apartment item a month since.


Some of the above surprise costs were never mentioned to me because I didn’t know to ask about them.

Give your post-college world about six to eight months to settle down. Now, I’m much more financially secure and living in a home that feels cozy and welcoming. I’m finally ready to put some money into my travel fund and I don’t sweat the occasional sushi dinner. For now, you just have to buckle in and prepare for a crazy ride after that diploma lands in your hand.


Holly Welles is a millennial-focused real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update. For more home tips and financial advice, subscribe to her blog for even more financial advice.

How Moving Helped Me Pay off $107,000 in Student Loans

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Student loan debt is higher than ever, with 44 million Americans owing $1.48 trillion on their student loans. In fact, the average Class of 2017 graduate left school owing $39,400.

Assuming a 4.45% interest rate and a 10-year repayment plan, a balance of that size would require a monthly payment of $407.

That’s a serious burden for new graduates, let alone anyone facing today’s sluggish wage growth and sky-high rent.

So here’s an out-of-the-box idea for conquering your student loans: Move to another state. I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, and it helped me pay off $107,000 in student loans.

Here’s how this decision helped my finances, along with surprising reasons why relocating could help yours, too.

Moving seriously lowered my cost of living

Andy Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero

I attended Bentley University and majored in managerial economics. My degree helped me start my business, Student Loan Hero, but it also left me saddled with $74,000 in student loans.

In total, I had 16 different loans from four different loan servicers, none of which helped me understand my repayment options. I put some of these loans into deferment, only to watch my balance balloon to $107,000.

Between the stress of carrying all this debt and the challenges of starting a business, I realized that living in New York, one of the country’s most expensive cities, might not be the best idea for my finances.

In 2015, I decided to move to Austin. I’d heard the quality of life there was great, and I loved its mix of urban culture with outdoor activities. Having grown up in rural Pennsylvania, I was drawn to a city that still had trees and nature.

Plus, the cost of living in Austin was a lower than in NYC. In New York, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,070, according to Apartment List. But in Austin, the median cost is just $1,120, nearly half that of New York.

Overall, Numbeo found that rent prices in New York are 97.6% higher than in Austin. Even groceries are 47.26% higher in the Big Apple!

Besides enjoying more affordable rent and food, I also saved money by not owning a car my first two years in Austin. I mainly relied on my bike to get around.

Of course, this might not be an option for a lot of Americans, especially for those who don’t live in cities with many options for public transportation.

In my case, though, giving up my car helped me reach my financial goals.

Relocating could help you save on state income taxes

Decreasing my cost of living wasn’t the only reason I saved money by moving to the Lone Star State. My tax bill also decreased significantly, since Texas doesn’t have state income taxes.

It’s one of seven states that don’t have an income tax. The full list includes:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax interest and dividend income, which is money you make from stocks or mutual funds.

Between lowering my cost of living and eliminating state and municipal income taxes, I saved over $15,000 by relocating to Austin. Thanks to these savings, I was able to make extra payments on my student loans.

“If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.”

As a result, I started to see my student loan balances go down. Not only did I save money on interest, but I also watched my six-figure balance return to a manageable level within a year.

I had been tackling my balance as aggressively as I could since 2013, and moving to Austin helped me pay it off even faster. In August 2016, I made my last payment on my student loans.

How much you save

Since my move helped my finances so much, I was curious about what impact a similar strategy could have for other Americans. To find out, Student Loan Hero conducted a study on the financial impact of relocating to a state with no state income taxes.

Student Loan Calculator

We learned that moving to a state with no income tax would save the average person $1,977 per year. We also found that nearly one out of three people said they would move to an income tax-free state if it meant they’d save money.

Although this number seems fairly high, it’s not all that surprising that debt, taxes, and finances affect where people choose to live.

If you’re interested in how moving could affect your finances, check out the state tax savings calculator in the study. It compares costs between two states and reveals how moving would impact your student loans.

If you’re considering a move, be sure to compare the cost of living between your current and prospective cities. But if you’re focusing on state income taxes, the calculator reveals how much you could save year to year.

For example, let’s say you’re living in Oregon and making $60,000 per year. You only have one exemption, and you owe $25,000 in student loans at a 5.70% interest rate. By moving up to Washington, you could save $4,777 per year on state income taxes.

If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.

Should you move to pay off your student loans faster?

Although I’ve been discussing how much you can save by moving to another state, there are expenses involved in relocating. For one, you have to pay for the move itself. Plus, you must make sure the new destination has job opportunities in your field unless you’re capable of working remotely.

If you’re considering a move, ask yourself these essential questions:

  • Can I find a job in my line of work?
  • Can I work remotely in my current role?
  • How much in moving expenses will I have to cover?
  • What will my new cost of living look like?
  • Is the new state a good fit for me in terms of climate, culture and other factors?

You might also estimate your moving costs with HireAHelper’s moving cost calculator. This tool gives you a quote based on your old and new zip codes so you can prepare for the expenses of your move. The great news is that there are many moving options to considerably lower your moving costs, which you can read about here.

Moving Cost Calculator at Moving101.HireAHelper.com

As long as you’ve done your due diligence, moving could be a smart financial move. With the money you save by choosing an affordable city over an expensive one, you could pay off your student loans ahead of schedule and move closer to a debt-free life.

Saving money, by the way, might not be the only perk in moving. In Austin, I now enjoy 228 days of sunshine, not to mention some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.


Andrew Josuweit Bio: Andrew Josuweit is CEO and Co-Founder of Student Loan Hero. After he graduated with $107,000 in student loan debt, he realized he wanted to help others become debt-free and financially independent.

How to Choose the Right School for Your Kids Before You Move

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There are many factors that go into choosing a new home … the size, the layout, the number of bedrooms and the cost. But if you’re a parent, soon-to-be-parent or a someday-parent, then there’s another thing you really have to factor in: the school.

As a teacher, a soon-to-be mom and a homeowner who just moved to be in the school district of her dreams, this topic has been on my mind a lot lately! When looking for a new home, my husband and I narrowed down the location based on the best public school district in our area. There were plenty of homes we loved that were outside of the exact district lines, but we chose to ignore those open houses so we could concentrate specifically on finding the home AND school of our dreams for our child.

But how do you even go about finding the best school for your child? What information is important to consider? That’s what today’s “lesson plan” is all about!

Consider Private vs. Public

First up, you need to choose between private or public schooling. The primary difference between these two options comes down to funding. Public schools typically receive government funding, whereas private schools charge tuition for each student. Let’s look at how that impacts other critical factors.

The Cost of Schooling

Here’s the 101 on private and public school financials.

Because public schools are financed through federal, state and local taxes, they must follow all the rules set by the government. Unfortunately, sometimes this can lead to some public school systems being underfunded. For us in the Chicagoland area, the location of the district makes a big difference for how well-funded it is. Obviously, better funded public schools are often found where the average housing costs are higher. Therefore, families often pay extra in housing costs to live in the “ideal” neighborhoods in order to be in the best public school districts. When it comes to admission, by law, public schools must accept all children. And a lot of kids are attending public school … about 90% of children in America, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Conversely, private schools generate their own funding through tuition, private grants and fundraising efforts. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the median tuition fee for private schools is close to $12,000 per year. Often times parochial schools charge much less than that (around $3,000 per year), whereas boarding schools often come with a higher price tag (up to $37,000 per year).

Because these institutions are in demand, private schools can be selective when it comes to admission. This means that the admission process often involves interviews, essays and testing for each student.

The Best Location

But how does choosing public or private affect where you’re going to live?

If you choose the private school route, you’ll have a bit more leeway into where you choose to settle down. But of course, you will want to consider your child’s commute to school every day. Often times private schools do not offer transportation, or if they do, it’s with extra fees, so making sure your child will have a safe and efficient way to get to and from their private school is definitely something to consider.

Public schools are a little more complex. Namely, there are specific district lines that you must live within in order to send your child there. In fact, all districts require proof of residency before you can enroll your kids in a public school. When you’re searching for a new home, often the listing on sites like Zillow and Redfin will include the nearby schools and give a “School Rating.” But if you’re buying a home, it’s always best to call the district to verify, especially because district lines can suddenly change and the real estate site’s information may not accurately reflect this updated information just yet.

Check out a School’s Report Card

Just like kids, schools get report cards too! But it’s up to you to do your homework online to gather all of this crucial info. Both GreatSchools.org and The National Center for Education Statistics offer data for each school district, including information on test scores, education programs, graduation rates, and teacher quality.

When it comes to teachers, there is a difference in certification between public and private schools. Teachers in public schools are usually state certified, whereas teachers in private schools may not be required to have certification. They often have subject-matter expertise or an undergraduate degree in the subject they teach, but actually don’t always have to meet the standards that the state outlines for a teaching license.

Also, don’t forget to review the curriculum at the schools you’re considering!

This isn’t always the same between private and public schools. Public schools follow state guidelines, a curriculum that must meet specific standards and common state assessments, while private schools have the freedom to design their own curriculum and don’t always mandate standardized tests.

To get real reviews from other parents about their school satisfaction, you can check out GreatSchools.org. Here, parents write detailed reviews about their school’s curriculum, class sizes and thoughts on the teachers. This real talk may be insightful as you narrow down your top choices.

Consider Your Child’s Personality

But those “report cards” don’t always give the full picture. Because every child is different, be sure to think about the unique qualities and characteristics of your child when choosing a school. The right combination is not always super obvious.

With that in mind, when finalizing your top school contenders don’t forget to review:

  • Class sizes
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Special education needs
  • Accelerated programs
  • Extracurricular activities

Make sure you’re giving your child what they need from their education! Consider questions like these: Is your child introverted? Does she like a particular sport? Does he need special attention or accommodations? Answer these crucial questions about your child while thinking about the list above.

Private schools may have programs for gifted students and can specialize programs to offer extra curriculum surrounding the arts or technology. However, most private schools are not able to fully accommodate students with learning disabilities. Because public schools have a responsibility to teach all students, they often have programs set up and funded just for children with individualized academic or developmental needs.

Extra Credit: Ask the Neighbors

If you’re really interested in a neighborhood and school, speak to parents in that area. This is a great way to gauge the area and see if the parents there are satisfied. If you find glowing reviews from real parents, chances are you can trust that they are doing a stellar job!


When it comes to deciding between private or public school (and choosing a school district), it’s important to remember that it’s a very personal choice for you and your family. There is no right or wrong answer. Do your homework, but at the end of the day know that only you can make the best decision for your family.

As for me, even though my baby isn’t here yet, I’m happy to know that when school time eventually gets here we already have our ideal home and school district all planned out for his future. That’s because we did our homework before we started searching for a new home!

Everyone in Town Moving at Once?! Welcome to Allston Christmas

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It was chaos in Boston once again this past Sept 1st. No, not because of the Patriots, or the Red Sox, or any sort of civil demonstration. Instead, this was just the latest edition of an annual event.

“Bedlam descends upon the Boston area every Sept. 1,” the Boston Globe explains. “Moving vehicles clog the streets, parking is a nightmare, and sidewalks are buried in trash and household items. The cause of this annual headache is known as Allston Christmas, a moving day made popular by identical contracts where an estimated two-thirds of the city’s 165,000-plus apartment leases turn over.”

What? Over 100,000 moves happening on one day? In one town?? Why would any city put their people through such a crazed ordeal?

The reason, ironically, is a matter of practicality. The city’s huge college student population is a major component of the citizenry, and it is only natural that they’d all be moving back to school at the same time.

What’s the logic?

BDCWire.com

The logic goes that with everyone’s leases ending and beginning on the same day, there are no renters stuck having to wait a few weeks between apartments and no pressure for others to break leases early in order to get into their next place. It’s a highly-visible (and, arguably, insane) solution to the unavoidable college student situation.

Sept. 1st is also when families with school children need to get moved in, claims the Globe (apparently unaware the majority of families moving to and from the rest of the country seem to prefer June). But the tradition, dating back decades, “was almost certainly dictated by the market demand of the area’s many college students,” we are told.

“It makes it difficult to manage,” adds realtor Edward Zuker. “But that’s what the market is.”

Damn college students.

New York City once had a moving day like Boston

Moving Day, 1907. Chicago Historical Society

But unlike their counterparts in New England, New Yorkers had common sense and the guts to stand up to a bunch of college kids and were able to do away with the idea.

Actually, moving day in New York seems to have originated with a custom in the Netherlands where, the Encyclopedia of Chicago tells us, servants would change employers at one of two annual hiring fairs. These took place in early May and November, and, for reasons not given, Dutch immigrants settled on May 1st as the day to continue tradition – which may or may not have had any practical value in the New World, but no one seems to have put up a stink about it.

That is, until 1922, when new rent laws went into effect, protecting renters from being kicked out of their places every year. We also see in this New York Times article from May 2 of that year that there was some competition among landlords who were lowering rents along the fashionable Concourse in the Bronx down from $23 to $22 or even $20 a room. Meanwhile, side street rooms were going for $13 to $15.

Ah, the good old days.

In Chicago too we see that May 1st was, as early as the 1840s, the day to move. Giving credence to the idea that some traditions simply should be done away with, the Encyclopedia of Chicago describes moving day as “a very unpopular event, with families facing greedy landlords, exorbitant rates charged by movers (known as expressmen), and the risk of breakage and loss of furniture and belongings.”

We’re not sure much has changed.

Montreal moving day. Toronto Sun

North of the border in Quebec, Canada, we see the moving day tradition is alive and well. The history here goes back even further, to the middle of the 18th Century when the French colonial government of this “New France” forbade the semi-feudal landlords of the time to evict their tenants before the winter snows had melted. By 1866 this had evolved into a requisite

of the Civil Code that urban leases begin on May 1st and end on April 30th.

This was fine with everyone for about a hundred years until it was decided that May 1st as a moving day was much too inconvenient for families with children in school. (Damn students again.) Thus in 1973, the Quebec government moved Moving day to July 1st – which, incidentally, is also Canada Day.

Now it may sound silly to make all those people move when they would rather be out celebrating Canada’s birthday. But this Toronto Sun article suggests that those French-speaking Quebecers, particularly those in Montreal, aren’t much interested in Canada Day.

We won’t get into that conversation.

We will say that, for all craziness of the summer season, we sure are glad that the millions who move do it over the course of a few months instead of all on one day.

Now if we could just convince a bunch of colleges and universities to start their school year in the middle of the slow season…


Header image by Boston Magazine

DIY Tricks to Make Sure You Have the Best Dorm Room

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We recently shared a list of the essentials (and not so essential items) to bring with you to college. Today, we’re taking things up a notch with dorm room ideas that really personalize your room and make it one-of-a-kind.  When every dorm room looks almost identical, it may seem impossible to really put your personal touch on this space. But these DIY room decor ideas will make your dorm the best one in your hall!

Make a Bulletin Board Out of an Old Shutter

Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Shutter Bulletin Board

Why buy a generic magnet or bulletin board from a big box store when you can create a unique piece instead? We found an old shutter from Habitat for Humanity Restore and spray painted half of it white, then the other half teal. Then we bought some clothes pins to tack up cute photographs and notes.

Hang this on your dorm room wall or simply lean it on top of a dresser for a one-of-a-kind picture board that is bound to stand out to anyone who walks by your door.

Cover the Ugly Beige Walls With a Tapestry
Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Cover those Dorm Walls

So many dorm room walls are a yucky beigey-yellow color. Not the most flattering color in the world, and it’s certainly not something you can change (no painting allowed!). We suggest covering those lackluster walls with a giant wall tapestry. You can find some great ones online (we love this one!) and you can use command hooks to hang it from the ceiling. The best part is a large chunk of your wall will be covered and you won’t have to stare at anything boring all year-long.

Use Washi Tape to Jazz up Your Door

Washi Tape is the stuff of legend. The fact that it leaves minimal residue means it’s perfect for designs, lettering or anything else creative you can put your mind to. Geometric shapes like the one pictured are always attention grabbers, but sideways lettering or origami shapes look great too. For best results, grab a few different colors from the store.

You might have to ask your RA first before you start, or if you’re like us, ask for forgiveness instead – door designs are so cool and memorable once you see them that it’s hard to say no!

Marker Up a Personal Doormat for the HallwayDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - DIY Personalized Doormat

This is a project we love for homes, apartments and yes.. .even dorm rooms! Take a plain doormat and carefully add a personalized message using a sharpie marker. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing: Write “Dorm Sweet Dorm”, write your room number or even write the initials for you and your roomie. Get creative with this simple DIY project and you’ll be proud to put this doormat in the hallway for all of your guests to marvel over!
Here’s the full tutorial for this one.

Play Scrabble on Your Mini FridgeDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Scrabble on the Mini Fridge

This DIY room decor project is one of our favorite dorm room ideas because it’s so budget-friendly. Simply take some small ceramic tiles (you can find them at a Habitat for Humanity Restore or your local home improvement store) and turn them into Scrabble tiles. Use a ceramic paint pen to write the letters and numbers directly onto the tile, and then glue a magnet on the back. Create a bunch of these for your mini fridge and you’ll have fun all semester playing large games of Scrabble right in your dorm room. Here’s the full tutorial for this easy DIY project.

Fake It Til You Make It with a Succulent PlanterDorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor - Succulent Planter

We truly believe every room looks better with a little greenery in it. But we get it… there’s probably no way you can keep any real plants alive and thriving in your tiny dorm room. Instead, use the ultimate “plant-hack”: faux succulent planter! Pick up some fake succulents (which look pretty real these days), a clear vase and some pebbles so you can create this succulent planter in minutes! Check out the full, simple tutorial for this one.
Dorm Room Ideas: DIY Room Decor
It’s the personal touches that make a space extra special. Stand out at college this year with some of these DIY projects and crafty dorm room ideas!

How to Move Your Stuff to College (Without Bothering Mom and Dad)

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In the college classic “Animal House”, Donald “Boon” Schoenstein famously exclaims to his fraternity brothers “We can do anything we want! We’re college students!”

Which makes me think Boon had plenty of help moving to college in Faber and into the Delta house. (Okay, maybe this dates me a little.)

Either way, whether this is your first time or your fourth time (or seventh, if you’re like Bluto), transporting all your stuff from your room at home to your dorm at college can be as challenging as any of your finals. (Moving to college without mom and dad can be tougher than your entire exam schedule.)

We can help you figure out how to get your stuff down to campus if you don’t have the luxury of hiring Mom & Dad’s Moving Company. Here’s your multi-scenario cheat sheet. 

You Have a Car

Awesome start! Nothing better than a road trip to kick off the new semester! But if you can’t fit everything into the back, what are you going to do?

Moving to College U-Haul Trailer

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Got a mountain of boxes and bags? A mountain bike? A bunch of furniture and the all-important mini-fridge to transport? If so, think about renting a trailer to hook onto your car. U-Haul rents them one-way, based on availability. Check out our complete U-Haul pricing and review guide and streamline the decision-making process.

Wait, you don’t have a hitch installed on your car? U-Haul does that too, for a price. Just input your exact car model and they’ll give you an estimate right on their site.

But maybe you’re feeling crafty (and want to save some money)? Imagine how proud your parents will be if you installed it yourself! Here’s a popular step-by-step guide, with some pictures to boot.

DIY Corner: Color Code your Boxes

Allow me to introduce you to an old friend of mine: Washi Tape.

…But Maybe You Don’t Want to Pull a Trailer

Totally understandable. It takes some getting used to (plus, that aforementioned trailer hitch). In place of that, maybe consider shipping your stuff via ABF. They’ll put your stuff on a trailer with a bunch of other people’s stuff, which while risking damaging your (hopefully not too expensive) stuff, might still be advantageous since you only pay for the space your own stuff takes up. Another, more agile option is to order a ReloCube from U-Pack. These containers are 6’ x 7’ x 8’ and are dropped off for you to load up, then taken away and delivered to your new place on campus. (Packrat also offers containers, albeit in medium and large sizes.) Just take note…

Moving to college - ABF Trailer

Image by http://johncassiemillburn.blogspot.com/

Campus move-in day is living chaos. (Perhaps you’ve survived one or two of them.) Check with your college administration to see if there would be any logistical problems or policy issues with having a container placed outside your dorm – or anywhere on campus. Or anywhere even close. Be clear, and get any approval in writing before you try to sneak a 40-foot trailer with a forklift hanging off the tail end past campus security.

So You Don’t Have a Car

Unless you are planning on backpacking to college, you’ll be going through shipping options.

If you only have a few extra boxes to send, the good old US Postal Service is your cheapest bet. UPS is another option if you’re moving to college with only a small handful of items, and their online calculator allows you to estimate your shipping-by-air costs. (Oddly, for ground service, you’ll have to locate a nearby location and talk to someone directly).

If shipping stuff to college via the post office or UPS works for your pile of dorm-destined stuff, go that route first. If not, you still have ABF and U-Pack to fall back on. Again, check with your campus authorities and administrators before ordering up that trailer and forklift.

Moving to college with a rental truck

We see you there in the back with your hand in the air. And yes, you are correct. Renting a truck might be the best way to go if you are moving to college on your own. U-Haul is the first name that lots of people think of, but check out Budget and Penske too because the cheapest price is always different depending on where you live and the date you need it on.

You Want to Avoid Shipping Costs and Trailers Altogether

In this case, your strategy is more limited and depends on your situation. If you still have to buy stuff for college, don’t. Not yet. Avoid buying stuff when you’re still at home because you’ll only have to haul it all to college. Instead, order online and have it delivered straight to your dorm. When all is said and done, you might end up saving a few bucks on that mini-fridge.

Another consideration: although limited to the area you live in and the size of the vehicle, peruse some carpooling sites like Zimride and The College CarpoolMoving to college ride share

There’s also the possibility of people selling random stuff off the backs of trucks when you get there, on or around campus. (Sound weird? It happens every year on campuses everywhere.) If there are such people, you might really score. If not, you’ll have to go without the mini-fridge for a while. Your call.

On the other hand, you could end up with two mini-fridges if you and your roommate aren’t on the same page. Touch base with your roommate before the summer is out so you don’t both end up lugging two microwave ovens, TVs and mini-fridges all the way to campus.

Finally, whenever and however you pack up, think seasonal. Leave those extra blankets and sweaters and your snowboard behind. You can pick them up the next time you’re home after you head back for Thanksgiving or winter break.

Moving to College In Any Scenario

Plan ahead. Pack your boxes. Reserve that truck. And remember to check with the powers-that-be regarding move-in day policies and procedures: the parking situation, restricted move-in hours, having stuff delivered (early?) and, yes, driving a forklift across the quad.

One final note before class is dismissed: Even if mom and dad end up helping you move into your college pad, that doesn’t mean all your stuff will suddenly, magically fit into the family trucks. So when they start scratching their heads, staring at your mountain of stuff and wondering what to do, tell them everything we just told you.

They’ll be proud of their well-educated kid.

What You Should Bring, Could Bring and DON’T Bring When Moving Into a Dorm

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‘Tis the season for college dorm room shopping! If you’ve been to any of the big box stores lately, we’re confident you have seen all the colorful storage things just screaming “take me to college!”.

Some college students are eager to start prepping for their new “home away from home”, while others aren’t too interested in putting in much extra time. Whichever you are, we aren’t judging. We’re just here to make sure everyone is prepared for the excitement!

With that in mind, here’s an in depth synopsis about what you should bring, what you could bring, and what you don’t bring to college come fall. Be independent and avoid having mom and dad come visit (with the essentials you forgot) less than a week after moving into your new digs.

What You Should Bring

Towel, Toiletries and Laundry Detergent

Whether your dorm is equipped with private bathrooms or community bathrooms, this is the number one must: multiple towels, toiletries and shower shoes. Most college students opt for a shower caddy, which is a handy way to corral all of their shower essentials when traveling to and from the shower. Be sure to choose a shower caddy that can drain any water from the shower, because you don’t want it to become moldy from sitting water.

Unfortunately, college life also comes with learning to do your own laundry, and usually, the laundry facilities aren’t anything to get excited about. Stock up on plenty of laundry detergent, softener and dryer sheets to keep your clothing looking its best (and your parents at bay) all semester long.

A Microwave and Mini Fridge with Snacks

Tried and true for a reason: make sure you pack a microwave with some snacks! Healthy or unhealthy, we’re definitely not judging, just reminding you that having your own stash of food is important. You don’t want to find yourself starving and the cafeteria is closed, nor do you want to pay cafeteria prices. You probably don’t want to buy food in bulk because you won’t have a ton of places to store it, but having some snacks stashed away to hold you over until the cafe opens is essential.

Speaking of snacks, most dorms also allow you to bring your own microwave and mini fridge. You can always cut down on the costs of these items by arranging with your roommate to each bring one of the two, that way you only have to invest in one, not both.

Plenty of Power Strips and Extension Cords

Laptop, printer, phone charger, microwave, mini fridge, blow dryer, iron, string lights, coffee maker…. all these things hog outlets. Dorms only have a few outlets though, and you’ll likely be sharing them with your roomie on top of it. What can we say, the struggle is real! Along with all of these everyday essentials, be sure to pack at least one power strip and possible extension cord so you never get caught with a dead cell phone or no coffee! That could be bad.

A Secure Box for Very Important Papers

Focusing on the basic must-have stuff makes it easy to forget about this essential. Make sure you bring your driver’s license, insurance card, social security number (or card as long as you can keep it safe), emergency contact and medical info, paperwork for refillable prescriptions, and any other documents you may need while you’re away. We hope you never have to use some of these, but having them with you just in case is necessary.

What You Could Bring

Carpet Squares or a Cool Rug

Some dorm rooms come with commercial grade carpets, but most of these carpets have seen high traffic for several years (at least!). Packing an additional rug or carpet squares to add to your dorm will not only make your room look a lot cuter, but it will make the whole space feel a lot more warm and cozy. Consider a cool rug because this tiny upgrade will make such a difference… and may even keep your room a bit warmer in the winter if it experiences any kind of drafts like our dorms rooms did.

A Bunch of Cleaning Supplies

No matter your lifestyle, living in these cramped quarters all day every day means that your dorm room is bound to get a little messy! And since mom or dad isn’t tagging along to clean up after you, it’s important to pack some cleaning supplies so you can keep the place clean… especially during flu season.

Here’s a list of some basic items you should consider buying a few or all of, especially if you have a closet space:

  • Vaccum
  • Disinfectant
  • Duster
  • Swiffer mop
  • Windex
  • Bleach wipes
  • Dish soap

A Printer

Before going out and splurging on a new printer or lugging your large printer into your dorm room, be sure you actually need this piece.

Although having a personal printer is a huge perk when it comes time to last second papers, most schools offer a free printing lab that can do the same job. Plus printers are large and take up some valuable space in your room. Not to mention they can be costly with ink refills and necessary repairs, so be sure it’s a definite must (or a fancy luxury) before you add it to your shopping list!

What You Don’t Bring

Twin Bed Sheets

Although it may appear as though you will have a twin bed in your dorm room, most dorms actually have XL twins instead of the traditional twin sized bed. So packing twin-sized bedding will be a big mistake since you’ll find out pretty quickly that these new sheets won’t fit on your new bed! We speak from experience. If you want to double check, try social media to get some inside intel.

An Office Chair

Almost every dorm these days provides their own chairs. Coupled with how much space these things take up in a car, you absolutely do not want to make the mistake of doubling up. And if you’re really attached to your chair at home? Considering how big dorm rooms are, now’s the perfect time to start learning to love other seats!

Your Pet

Do we even have to say this? Apparently, we do. We know, we know… it’s hard to leave home, and even harder to leave home when you’re leaving your beloved pet at home. But unfortunately, dorm rooms do not allow pets of any kind. So sadly you can’t sneak in your pooch, kitty or even turtle into the halls of your new home.

Any Luggage at All

We urge you to skip the bulky luggage. Unless you need it for frequent flights back home, luggage is an item that will take up so much valuable space in your tiny new digs. Instead, try packing everything you have in oversized duffle bags (or even trash bags) that can be broken down and stored under your bed or somewhere else less invasive. The duffle bag will still allow you to pack up and travel, yet won’t waste valuable space like large luggage would.

Communicate and Consolidate! Whatever Your Roommate Is Bringing

It’s important to touch base with your roommate before the move-in day so you can coordinate what you are both bringing so you don’t double up! Space is very limited and sometimes so are funds, so splitting these items up will not only ensure your room isn’t overflowing with doubles of everything, but will also help cut down on costs for both of you.

The countdown to college is officially on. Hopefully, now you are fully prepared for what you should bring, could bring, and should NEVER bring to move-in day!

6 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Moving Into a Dorm

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Moving to college is a big deal. Take it from me, emotions are running pretty high, you may be nervous, you might have traveled pretty far and you have a lot on your mind.  Mistakes happen. Fortunately, there are several ways to make moving into college a whole lot easier. It won’t take away from all of the emotions of leaving home, but you can at least transition with simplicity, so you’re just prepared to enjoy your new life.

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