10 Best Dorm Shopping Tips To Know Before Moving Into College

Getting your dorm shopping done soon? Here are the top helpful dorm shopping tips that you should know before you go.

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A chic and cozy dorm room corner with a cascading wall of greenery. The room features a well-equipped study area with a black mini-fridge and microwave, a white bookshelf filled with decor, and a comfortable bed adorned with plush pillows in shades of pink and grey.

Dorm shopping can be super overwhelming. It feels like you’re completely starting over and buying pretty much everything new.

When I moved into my dorm I had no idea what I was doing and I went a little bit overboard. I ended up with a ton of stuff that I didn’t even end up using.

So learn from my mistakes and use these helpful dorm shopping tips to figure out exactly what you need and where to get it from!

Helpful Dorm Shopping Tips

1. Create A Checklist Ahead Of Time

Before you start shopping, make a comprehensive checklist of everything you need.

When you know exactly what you’re shopping for you’ll be less likely to overspend on unnecessary items. And you won’t forget anything important!

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to creating a college packing list, we have you covered. Download our FREE college packing list that has everything you need for a dorm room.

2. Coordinate With Your Roommate

Two smiling college students giving the 'peace' sign in a well-organized dorm room.

If you’re sharing a dorm with a roommate, coordinate with them on shared items like a microwave, fridge, or area rug. This way, you can split costs and avoid duplicates.

You don’t want to end up with 2 coffee makers taking up precious space in your room.

If you need some ideas on what to coordinate with your roommate, we have a full post of dorm items to share with your roommate.

If you’re planning on sticking to a color scheme, make sure you communicate that ahead of time as well. Some roommates coordinate their entire rooms, while others just decorate their own areas however they want.

3. Check Your Dorm’s Rules Ahead of Time

Before you start dorm shopping, check your dorm’s rules ahead of time.

Some dorms have really random rules about what you can and can’t bring. For example, my dorm didn’t allow microwaves in dorm rooms because they had communal ones on each floor.

Some important rules to look for:

  • Can you loft your bed?
  • Are bed risers allowed?
  • Is there a mini fridge/microwave included?
  • Can you bring hot plates or toasters?

These questions will save you time and money when you’re shopping for dorm stuff.

4. Get Creative With Storage Solutions

If there’s one thing we know about dorm rooms, it’s that they’re super small! So it’s important to get creative with your storage.

Some of our favorite dorm organization items are hanging organizers, desk storage hutches, and under-bed storage drawers.

5. Choose Multi-Functional Furniture

When shopping for dorm furniture, look for pieces that can serve more than one purpose.

For example, an ottoman with built-in storage can be used as a seat, a footrest, and a place to keep extra blankets or books.

One of my favorite multi-functional dorm items is this mirror that doubles as jewelry storage.

This dorm shopping tip helps maximize your dorm room storage space and saves you money.

6. Prioritize Comfort

I know we all want a super aesthetic dorm room, but it’s even more important to consider comfort when shopping for your dorm.

Invest in comfort essentials like a quality bedding, supportive pillows, and an ergonomic desk chair.

My top comfort recommendation for a dorm room is a plush mattress topper. This one item will make SUCH a difference in your quality of sleep and overall comfort level.

[RELATED: 23 Best Dorm Chairs for College Students]

7. Shop Early

If you wait until the last minute, a lot of the big stores near campus like Target and Walmart will be totally picked over.

Start your dorm shopping as early as possible so you have plenty of time to pick out exactly what you want.

Starting early will also give you the time to decide what you’ll really use instead of just rushing and buying a bunch of stuff that you don’t need.

8. Check For Discounts

Many retailers offer special discounts for college students, which can lead to significant savings on your dorm shopping.

Always ask if a store has a student discount policy; you might be surprised at how many do.

Additionally, look out for back-to-school sales, especially during late summer. Taking advantage of these discounts can help stretch your budget further, allowing you to get more for your money.

9. Order For Pickup at Stores

A lot of the bigger retailers have the option to shop online and pick up in person.

This is SO helpful for college because you can shop while you’re still home and pick everything up at a store close to your campus.

You can also usually get things shipped directly to your dorm building. Just make sure you check on this ahead of time because some schools may not allow this!

10. Don’t Forget About Safety Items

While the dorm decor stuff can be exciting, don’t forget about the more “boring” dorm stuff like safety items.

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A basic first aid kit is essential – stock it with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, basic medications, etc.

Another useful item is a small toolkit which comes in handy for assembling furniture or making minor repairs.

For personal safety, consider a safe or lockbox for your valuable items. Dorm theft is more common than you may think.

We have a full post dedicated to the best dorm room safes for college.

In today’s digital age, it’s also a good idea to have cybersecurity measures for your online protection – think strong passwords and maybe a VPN for your devices.

Remember, being prepared for emergencies gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on your studies and college experience.

Hopefully these dorm shopping tips will help you feel more prepared when you’re shopping for your dorm room essentials.

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