Tips on Moving to a New Home as a Student

Moving is a tough thing as a university student. As a person who has moved four times during my time at UVic, I have struggled to keep my belongings practical and moveable. I am also someone who goes home during the summer, so it can be difficult to find space for my belongings.

I will soon be graduating, and thinking about what I am going to do with all my belongings when I move back home is daunting. Being from California, I do not have the ability to bring many of my things with me. However, having moved around Victoria I have found several things that have made my life easier in terms of being moveable and keeping my belongings to a manageable amount.

When making purchases for your new home, the key is to find a balance between practicality and movability. Staying smart about the purchases you make will make life easier in the long run when you decide to find a new place to live.

Remember, it’s all temporary

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When you begin to furnish your new apartment or home, keep in mind that you will likely not be staying there for much longer than a few years. Having a ton of furniture and decorative items in your home will either make moving more stressful or contribute to a large amount of waste.

I still have flashbacks to when I moved out of my residence in my first year and seeing all the perfectly usable new furniture and unnecessary items being thrown out. Only buy things you know you can hang on to for a few years or be able to give it away to someone else who might need it.

Reuse your boxes/storage bins

When you first move in to your new home, you will likely have a lot of storage boxes left over. Be sure to keep this somewhere so that it will be easier for you when you need to move out. It will also reduce your waste by reusing rather than getting new boxes every time you move out.

Tip: If you are looking for cardboard boxes, go to your local supermarket and ask the employees if they have any extra boxes they can give you. I have done this several times and I have always been able to come away with a few.

Look for practicality 

When making purchases, make sure to think of how much you will be using the item and how many purposes it can be used for.

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For example, if you’re buying a desk, look for one that includes several drawers which can be used to store papers or other materials. Tall beds can also be a great way to expand your storage space. Being practical will reduce the amount of things you have to move when you decide to leave your home while also making your living space less cumbersome.

Be minimalist

Having a minimalist living environment will make it easier for you to move your items as you won’t have to worry about damaging expensive furniture. Decluttering all your unnecessary belongings has been proven to reduce stress and will be more sustainable. Everyone has walked into a messy house with belongings and furniture spewed all across the house. This way of living creates a hostile living environment for you and your roommates.

Avoid buying furniture

If you move into a furnished house, there is absolutely no need to buy furniture. Even if the furniture is dated, remember that you are a student and this is only a temporary living arrangement. If something is broken, remember that your landlord will likely repair or replace it for you as they also know that more students will want to rent from them in the future.

If you are in an unfurnished house, buy only necessary, cheap, and practical furniture. When I moved into an unfurnished home last year, I only bought a bed from IKEA, a bookshelf from Wal-Mart (great for storage), and a desk with small shelves on the side. Make use of the space already given to you such as walk-in closets, shelves behind bathroom mirrors, etc.

Keep your boxes for the next time you move

For any kitchen or home appliances, work with your roommates to supply or split the cost of any essentials you may need. It is likely that your roommates will have items that they have inherited from previous homes that will lessen the overall cost of your furnishings.

Be sustainable – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Remember that even if you are not using some items, you may want to use them in the future when you find a new place to live. Small appliances such at kettles or mini fridges that you likely bought in first year may serve you in the future. It you have the space, try to keep these things for your future living arrangements.

Make sure to research how to get rid of large electronic items safely and sustainably. Many items are not allowed to be thrown away at the landfill and may have to be thrown away at a specific location.

If you utilize a lot of bottles and cans, hang on to them for as long as you can and then make a trip to the bottle depot. This will allow for all of these items to be recycled sustainably and get you some extra cash in the process.

Avoid the “free stuff”

This is probably a controversial one. It’s true that the first week of school has some very appealing free things that are given out by clubs and on-campus organizations. I have definitely been one to grab as much as I can.

However, most of the things that are given out only contribute to more waste and clutter that will make it more difficult for you to move your things when you move out. These small items are likely cheap and easily breakable material that won’t be able to last long anyways. Try to find “free” things that can be won through contests and look for useable items or prizes. Gift cards and free food giveaways are a much better way to get some “free” stuff that will be useful and sustainable.

Utilize the space given to you as best you can rather than buying furniture. Hanging shelves are a great purchase to make.

Donate through Value Village or sell

Avoid throwing away your clothes unless they are absolutely unusable. Make a trip once a year to Value Village to give away your things. You can buy new clothes while you’re there!

Also consider Craigslist, Kijiji, or Buy and Sell Facebook groups to give away furniture and working electronics.

Throw away old notes and assignments

Just like erasing all your browser tabs after your last exams, give yourself the satisfaction of getting rid of your old notes and assignments. You might think you’ll look at it again, but likely you won’t. Remember to reuse as many notebooks as you can and sell all your old textbooks to Subtext or through Facebook to reduce clutter.

Before you do, keep in mind the classes you will be taking the next semester in the rare chance you may want to save some of your notes.


Remember to look for as many secondhand items as you can and talk to other friends and family who can help store your items when you are away. Moving can be stressful but with these tips, you can make it easier on yourself and be more environmentally-friendly in the process. Your wallet will also be thankful!

Do you have any great strategies for moving or reducing waste? Comment below!

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