Starting your varsity year will be a tad hectic, completing the admin, the registration, finding your classes and making new friends.  Many of us feel anxious and often a tad fearful of the experience at first, creating a full mixed bag of emotions.  But nesting your dorm room or commune room shouldn’t be confusing, but rather fun and give you a sense of safety, for this is going to be your new home away from home;) Our dorm room checklist will give you a great start.

Your student living space will most probably be far too small, keep small living, smart storage and minimal living in mind.  Start by packing the essentials first, consider some home comforts and have fun dressing your dorm.

I made you a dorm room checklist that you can use to ensure you don’t miss any of the essentials.

Kitchen Essentials:

You may not need doubles of everything, check with your roommate who brings what.

  • Small Microwave
  • 1* Microwaveable Cookware Pack
  • Toaster
  • Small Fridge / Big Fridge
  • 2* Plates
  • 2* Cereal Bowls
  • 4*Cups
  • 4* Glasses
  • 2* Cutlery Set
  • 2* Sharp Cutting Knife
  • 1* Can Opener
  • 1* Potato Peeler
  • 1* Bread board
  • 2* Water Bottles
  • 1 Water Pitcher Fit the fridge
  • 2* Pots + 2* Cheap Pans
  • 1* Spatula | Spaghetti Tongs | Salad Tongs
  • 3* Storage Containers
  • 1* Strainer/Colander
  • 2* Dish Towels
  • Trash Bags + Trash Bin
  • Bulk Food + Storage for it
  • Cleaning Supplies, Rags, Storage box


Bedding Essentials

Check if your accommodation provides a bed and mattress.  If so make sure you get the correct sizes.

  • 2 Sets of Sheets: Mattress Cover, Linen, Pillowcases
  • Duvet + Cover
  • Pillows, take enough, you can use them to make a makeshift couch from your bed.
  • Warm Blanket
  • Knee Blanket, for your study session
  • Soft Throw, this will be super handy for any outdoor events, like the music festivals
  • Sleeping Bag & Air Mattress for an friends



None of these are essential, but they will impact your successes at varsity.  If any money could be spared it would be recommended to buy a well rounded Laptop and a cheap B&W Laser printer.  This will be a time safer, stress safer and sadly safe an assignment or two throughout your varsity lifetime.

Try and share with your roommate and friends;)

  • Ethernet Cables, for when the wireless is out and you need to get to the research.  The longer the better, remember the LAN parties…they will continue;)
  • Laptop. Consider your course requirements when making this purchase.
  • B&W Laser Printer.  A colour printer is handy, but a waste of money actually.
  • Printer Ink + Paper
  • Laptop / Tablet / Study Bag.  Have one bag for all as you don’t want to carry like a mule.
  • Multi Plug (Surge and Overload Protection)
  • Chrome Cast, get it;)
  • WiFi Router if you can afford.


Dorm room Essentials:

Some of these are absolute live safer…

  • First Aid Kit
  • Over the Counter Pain Relief Medication
  • Over the Counter Flu Meds
  • Epipen, you never know…be safe & prepared
  • Anti Bacterial Hand Sanitizer, always use after class and labs.
  • Multi Vitamins
  • Prescriptions + Contact Lenses & Solution
  • Laptop Lock
  • Bicycle Lock
  • Extra Door lock – 2 Sets of keys. One for you and the other for your roommate.
  • Flash Light
  • Umbrella
  • Sunscreen + Sun Hat 😉 Music festivals!


Bathroom Essentials

Recommended with shared bathrooms.

  • Waterproof Shower Bag. Big enough for everything
  • Rope
  • Shower Shoes | Slippers
  • Bath Mats
  • Hair Products + Brushes + Appliance !Essential
  • Personal Toiletries
  • Deodorant & Toothpaste & Toothbrush
  • Manicure Kit + Cotton Balls
  • Tweezers !Essential
  • Extra Toilet Paper
  • Shower Curtain


Laundry Essentials

  • Hangers
  • Delicate Wash Bag
  • Laundry Hamper
  • Washing Soap
  • Sewing Kit, even for the boys.


Dorm Room Comforts

These are mostly extras, but they will make live far more comfortable.

  • Fan for the Summer heat
  • Small Blow Heater for the Winter chills
  • Small TV (Wall Mount)
  • Cable Splitters if you don’t want to share your TV with your roommate every night.
  • Extension Cords, it’s essential
  • Small Portable Speaker, like a Shock.  They are super handy
  • Noise canceling Headphones!  These are in my opinion essential for any long serious study hour sessions.  They are pricey, but worth it. For the noisy Res & Communes.
  • Desk Lamp
  • Rechargeable Batteries + Charger
  • Removable Tap Lights (you can buy them at any of the TV shop – Verimart/Glomail)
  • Small Bookcase, check with your res if there will be space
  • Comfortable Desk Chair, this is essential as sitting long hour will be your new fortè
  • Bed & Desk & Chair… if not provided
  • Sporting Equipment like your tennis racket or soccer ball
  • Entertainment Equipment, don’t forget the X Box/Playstation
  • Establish a Monthly budget
  • Money Cards & Cash & Bank Account
  • Student Card + Copy (Certified)

Remember the CABLES & CHARGERS!!

Dorm Room Storage

A few items will make a huge difference

  • Storage Bins Collapsible
  • Under Bed Storage
  • Storage Hooks
  • Waste Basket For your desk


Closest Essentials

Keep it small ladies;) You will be pitching up in your PJ in a month or two. Keep the clothing casual with the occasional glamorous dress

  • Sweater
  • 2* Gym Sets + Sneakers
  • Bathing Suit + Beach Towel
  • Belts + Gloves + Scarves + Hat + Bags (only few items)
  • Jeans | Dresses | T-Shirts
  • Pajamas + Slippers
  • Shoes | Flip-Flops | Heels | Sneakers (No more than 4 pairs in total)
  • Socks | Underwear
  • Cheap Accessories


Stationery Essentials

  • Flash drive | Mini portable Hard Drive As big as you can afford.
  • Binders | Folders | Notepads… Lots
  • Pens | Highlighters | Pencils
  • Stapler | Eraser | Sharpener | Scissors | Ruler | 3 Hole Punch
  • Bulldog Clips | Paper Clips
  • Post it Notes, these are essentials.  


Food Essentials

You’re not going to have some to run to the shop for a bit.. be prepared

  • Peanut Butter
  • Honey | Syrup
  • Tea | Coffee | Hot Chocolate | Milk | Sugar | Sweetener
  • Cereal
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Some Fruits, Apples, Bananas

Going of to varsity shouldn’t be to daunting, especially if you dress your dorm with all the comforts from home.  Keep your packing list short and sweet, but if it needs to come along, well then it needs to come along;)  

We students always seem to find the space.


Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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