Living in a dorm has chances to be with other people, share experiences and split expenses. There’s also the potential for lack of respect and other problems. Planning for your transition to dorm life is important, with keeping your space as tidy as possible combined with the challenge of small spaces to begin with.
1. Try to set up loose “house rules” before there’s a problem. Examples might be everyone cleans dishes off as they’re dirtied which eliminates one person being stuck with a sink of dirty dishes every night . Another might be shoes off at the door, reducing the amount tracked in and amount of cleaning needed. What do you want vs what is needed? If agreements can be made before there is a problem it takes the pressure off for a discussion rather than a venting or blame session.
2. How will food costs be split is another discussion topic. While it’s easy to say all buy their own food it’s silly to try to fit two or three gallons of milk in a dorm refrigerator! Things like seasonings and common food make sense to split costs on, keeping ‘specialty’ foods separate. Still others might plan and split all meals.
3. If cooking is allowed in the dorm or there is a dorm kitchen often it is small so you will need to maximize efficiency. Slow cookers and sandwich makers are small appliances that can provide easy or quick meals that are hot and much less expensive than eating out. Microwaves are handy but with all of these it’s pointless for each person to bring one.
4. Probably one of the biggest considerations is clothes storage and with space a factor often traditional dressers are tough to fit in a small dorm. One solution is getting 6-8 milk crate type storage ‘boxes’ and stacking 3-4 high – this allows storage in several compartments without taking up a great deal of floor space. Another idea for those who don’t want to LOOK at the open ends is drape a fabric over it or use plastic storage tubs with lids – perhaps one for underclothes, one for casual pants and jeans and one for shirts. These are easily stacked, and a fourth tub can be for dirty clothes making it easy to take to the laundry and return with clean folded clothes. Remember to allow extra for summer vs winter clothing, rain clothes and so forth.
5. Keeping books clean and in good shape increases value if you sell them back or extends their life if you keep for future reference. Blocks and boards have been a long time inexpensive answer to book cases. The previously mentioned crates or tubs also do well for keeping books stored and out of sight.
6. With laptops it is so easy to have notes stored in electronic devices rather than paper noteboos but supplies are still needed. Data storage disks, printer, ink and other items as well as pens and desk basics help maximize what you learn as well as communication with dorm mates via a message board. Small things like paper clips, stapler and other desk items make projects much easier. Digital cameras allow for photos that can last a lifetime.
7. Individual items to pack – while it’s true some things such as small kitchen appliances can be shared other things each person should have. One of the big ones is an alarm clock – even if you’re on the same schedule most of the time it pays to have another backup including an inexpensive windup just in case power is out but classes go on! Other things here are dorm decorations, photos from home or other items to make your space more YOU. A comfortable pillow, blanket or other items can be small comforts but in other ways be big comforts!
8. Stereo, video games and “down time” things are a question of how much are they shared. If someone breaks it who replaces? It pays to not have the best stuff here for that reason – accidents happen so it sometimes pays to keep in mind don’t bring what you can’t afford to lose. At the same time, these things can pass the time as can board games or cards.
9. Consideration items – think clamp on space light for your bed or desk so the overhead doesn’t have to be on while you’re cramming for a test.
10. Dorm supplies, as mentioned in #2, make sense to split the cost on. This is something often not considered and while all may have personal supplies things like cleaning supplies, air fresheners or other “home” products are important to consider. While it might be a small expense it’s an important one. Other joint supplies might be laundry soap (cheaper and better value in larger quantities) and dish soap.
These dorm tips will get you started to considering discussion or planning to make it a great year in the dorm!