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The Ultimate List of Move-In Life Hacks for Future First-Years

Posted by on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 in Commons, Commons, Freshman Life, General Information, Housing.

This is going to be me on Saturday, and I can’t wait!

Only a couple more days ’til First Year Move-In!!! I hope all of you are as excited as I am :) As I’m starting to gather all of my stuff in preparation for my own move-in, the stress and pressure that I felt in the week leading up to that first day as a Commons resident are all flooding back. Of course, I’d read all of the Inside ‘Dores blogs and College Confidential forums about move-in, but there was still that lingering uncertainty about what my room would look like or what exactly I should pack.

So in the style of my previous life hacks post, here’s another one with tips and advice that I wish I’d known as an incoming freshman. This blog will be primarily geared toward those of you who are living in the historic houses, since I lived in a fourth-floor double in West last year. (If you want to learn more about moving into the new Commons houses, I encourage you to read this post by the amazing Sophie Druffner!) Fair warning: each dorm room differs in flooring type, ceiling height, square footage, window size, closet type, etc… so my experience won’t apply to everyone, but hopefully you’ll be able to learn something useful no matter where you’re living!

I Got My Housing Assignment in the Mail… What Now?

  • Congratulations! You’ve just found out where you’ll be living for the next nine months, along with who’ll be sleeping in the same room with you. If you haven’t already, reach out to your roommate-to-be and discuss any weird habits, potential significant others, and personal boundaries so you each will have some expectations of what your year will look like. It will make spending time in your dorm room so much easier (and more fun)!
  • Now to the nuts and bolts of planning your room: begin by agreeing on a color scheme with your roommate(s). My roommate Ellie and I agreed on blue, green and gray because we both liked avocados and whales. (I don’t know how we got to discussing that, but we did. We’re quite the pair.) Once you know what colors your room will be, you can then start to purchase bedding. My roommate and I ended up getting the same bedding set because we both thought it was super cute, but you don’t have to be that matchy-matchy! Just pick something that remotely fits with your color scheme and it should go well with whatever your roommate decides on.
  • Apart from reaching out to your roommate, you should also talk to some of your future housemates. When all of the incoming first-years start to receive their housing assignments, people will make group chats to organize themselves. Join the GroupMe and Snapchat groups for your house, or make one if they don’t already exist! You don’t have to be active in the chats, but it does help to know some of the people you’ll be living with before you get to campus.
  • Start to combine everything you’ll need into one big packing checklist. As I was preparing for move-in, my parents and I made a huge shared list on Google Sheets, which really helped us stay on the same page about everything. It had different tabs for my dorm room, clothing, toiletries, and food, as well as a to-do list of everything we had to accomplish before my move to Nashville.

Random Things to Add to Your Packing List

  • Cards Against Humanity. For whatever reason, my first few weeks after move-in were defined by late-night card games. There was something universal about them that really brought everyone together! You’ll inevitably lose interest in it, but Cards Against Humanity is nonetheless a great addition to your dorm room. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend $25. If you’re morally offended by CAH (I don’t blame you) then run-of-the-mill playing cards are a suitable alternative.
  • A diffuser and essential oils. You could go the route of a classic air freshener, but I’m a huge fan of essential oils. You can get different blends to relax you, energize you, or just welcome you back to your dorm room after a long day of classes!
  • A small vacuum cleaner. I brought this vacuum with me on Move-in Day, and I was so glad I did. It was really useful for cleaning up any crumbs or dirt that ended up in our carpet or floor, plus all of my friends in West House borrowed it for their own rooms whenever they needed it. It was really nice to have on hand.
  • A super-soft throw blanket. This is a dorm-room STAPLE. You can use it if your roommate likes to blast the AC, when it gets cold in the winter, and whenever you want to be cozy while studying. I even brought mine to the basement with me for karaoke and movie nights!

Let The Fun Begin: Move-In Day!

So, the Move Crew has welcomed you to your house and brought everything up to your dorm room. What will it look like? Here’s an example picture that I took back in April: the bare left side was mine after I moved out, and the rest of the furnishings were my roommate’s.

  • The historic houses have really nice laminate wood floors that are way better than the tile floors in the new houses, in my opinion. My roommate got an inexpensive microfiber rug from Amazon that added a little warmth and softness to the room.
  • You’re able to make your bed as high or low as you’d like. I personally preferred to loft mine as high as possible and put my desk under it, which was a really great option to save space. At first I kept bumping my head on the frame of my bed whenever I got up from my desk. So I picked up a pool noodle from Walmart, cut one side and taped it on, and that was a perfect solution! Ellie’s bed was slightly lower, which allowed her to put her drawers and our fridge/microwave underneath. Then she put her desk at the foot of her bed for more headroom.

    My lovely walk-in closet with a full-length mirror on the back of the door!
  • My favorite part of the room? The walk-in closets! They provided plenty of space for all of the clothes I over-packed and never wore (whoops). I got a few folding storage bins to organize my t-shirts, pajamas, and other things that I didn’t hang up. I also brought some hanging shoe cubbies that were able to hold bulkier boots in the middle.

Adding the Finishing Touches

  • Now for my favorite part: decorating!!! You’ll need two basic items to hang things in your room: tacks (which you can use on the textured self-healing walls) and Command strips (which I used on the normal painted walls and the door). I brought both Command hooks and Velcro-type Command strips with me on Move-in Day, and both types ended up coming in handy. Please note: you have to be REALLY careful not to peel the paint on the normal walls, or else you’ll be charged a fee at the end of the year! I also used washi tape on the painted walls because it’s so gentle and easy to remove.
  • Try to get big “statement pieces” that will cover as much wall space as possible. My roommate got a patterned tapestry for her side of the room and hung it up in front of her desk. Then she put photos up in front of it. It ended up looking really cute! I’ve also seen dorm rooms with big team flags or photo collages.
  • Lighting is really important for the ambiance of your room. The overhead dorm lights can be glaring sometimes, especially at night, so Ellie and I decked our room out with fairy lights to add a cozier feel. If fairy lights aren’t your thing, you can also get color-changing party lights to go around the border of your room.
  • To make our room feel like a hospitable and fun space, I brought a beanbag chair for friends to hang out on. I also put a whiteboard outside of our door so that we could make countdowns (example: “T-minus three days until Finals!”) or people could leave us messages. Side note: this really came in handy for me as a floor rep; I used our whiteboard to advertise all the fun floor events we had coming up!

Here’s a video of our cozy room with all of the finished decorations. And that’s about it for this post! I hope that the pictures and video will help y’all visualize what your Move-in will be like.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I really want to hear what’s on your mind!!

Love, Annabel


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