All the best TikTok-approved college move-in tips

Freshmen, listen up!

A dorm room with a bed, desk and fairy lights, shown on a checked pink and white background.
(Image credit: Future / Getty / Beth Mahoney)

You’ve probably dreamed about the day you *finally* leave for college for literal years. But now that it’s here, it can feel like a lot. With a mix of excitement, nerves, and the very real fear of being homesick, the whole idea of leaving can be stressful.

I remember when I moved into my dorm. I found the whole process super overwhelming. There was a lot to think about, from how to manage the unpacking process to how to deal with saying goodbye to my family, and it felt like a LOT. The good news is that there are steps that you can take to mitigate how much stress you have to deal with and how smoothly the process goes. 

To help make navigating the process of moving to college for the first time easier, we’ve rounded up a few tips and tricks that'll help you out.

The best hacks for a smoother college move-in

1. Take pictures of everything before you move in

According to TikToker @alliesandy, one of the best things you can do when moving to college is to take pictures of your dorm (from every angle) before you move in. That way, if any issues with your deposit arise when you move out, you can prove what the dorm looked like before you moved in and whether you are responsible for paying up or not.

2. Bring extra cleaning supplies to wipe everything down

Don’t just stock up on cleaning supplies to see you through the first few weeks — it’s also a good idea to bring some extra cleaning essentials with you so that you’re able to wipe everything down before you move in. The chances are that your dorm room has been cleaned since the last occupant moved out, but just in case. Having the right items will help you stay on top of your dorm cleaning schedule, too.


♬ original sound - Allie | Mindset Mentor

3. Coordinate with your roommate

Both @alliesandy and @collegetipsforbarbz recommend talking to your roommate before move-in day so you can schedule different times to move in. Let’s be honest, dorm rooms are hella tiny, so instead of trying to fit yourselves, all your stuff, and your parents into the space all at once, it makes sense to stagger your arrival times. 

4. Unpack and make your bed right away

As soon as you arrive, make your bed and then unpack. Otherwise, you might find yourself putting the process off, especially once you start getting invited to fun activities or social events. It’s worth spending a few hours on move-in day getting everything situated beforehand. Coming back at midnight with sheets still crumpled up on your bed is the worst.


♬ original sound - collegetipsforbarbz

5. Keep the clothes on your hangers ahead of move in

For ease, don’t take your clothes off your hangers ahead of move-in day. Instead, use a plastic sack or bag to cover them and transport them on the hangers. That way, when you arrive, all you need to do is hook them onto the railing and remove the bags. It also keeps them protected from any nasties in your car or if it starts pouring. Trust me, it’ll save you so much time. 

6. Remove all the packaging of new dorm items before you move in

It’s pointless taking all of your new dorm items to college still in their packaging. It takes up precious unpacking time and leaves you with a giant pile of garbage in a small space. Instead, remove all the boxes, plastic wrap, and containers from your new items before you leave home. Honestly, it’ll make moving in so much quicker.  

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.