Dorm Room Essentials on a Budget

As a recent college grad, I thought it would be useful to share a Dorm Room Essentials list. There are a few articles online about this topic, but none of them takes the budget aspect into consideration. With all the expenses that come from college, it makes sense to pick some budget-friendly items.

Moving to college is very exciting and a big milestone. However, it can be very stressful. Maybe you are moving from out of state, or perhaps from another country. I hope this list can simplify your transition and give you a shopping guide. The first step is to get all your essentials. Once you are done with those, then you can go ahead and start decorating and adding your style (dorm decoration articles).

In this list, we are assuming your dorm room came with the basic furniture: a bed, a desk, and a chair. Also, your dorm room should have a small closet. You might want to consider upgrading your chair or getting extra storage for clothes later on (read our dorm furniture article for storage/organizational ideas). But for the purpose of this article, we will just cover the basics.

Where to shop for all the college essentials?

The answer depends on where are you going to school and if you have access to a car to transport all of your shopping. If you are shopping in person, I recommend going to a large retail store, such as Walmart or Target. There, you can find almost any item you need at an affordable price.

If you want to shop online, remember most stores offer free shipping for large orders and Amazon gives a student discount for their prime membership. Shopping online can be a lifesaver especially if you do not have a car, or have a tight timeline to get everything done before classes start. Talk with your resident advisor or staff to get your mailbox keys and ship your purchases to your personal mailbox on campus.

The Dorm Essentials List

1- Bedding:

  • Bedsheets: Almost always a Twin XL size. Buy 2 to alleviate your laundry needs.
  • Comforter and/or Blankets: Your room might get cold during the winter
  • Pillows: Try to buy a couple, they can also serve as back support

2- Bath Essentials:

  • Shower caddy
  • Towels: Try to buy a couple to ensure you always have a clean towel
  • Shower shoes: You need shower shoes for the dorm bathroom, especially if you have to shower in a shared facility.
  • Robe: It is much easier and comfortable to walk back after a shower with a robe
  • Toiletries: Buy all your usual health/bath products

3- Clothing and Clothing Storage:

  • Hangers: Get more rather than less
  • Plastic storage: put away off-season clothing and save space in your closet
  • Shoe rack: Dorm closets are small. A shoe rack will let you utilize the space better
  • Door hook hanger: Another way to create more closet space
  • Laundry Bag
  • Laundry products

4- Desk and School Supplies

  • Desk lamp: You will need extra lighting for homework and reading.
  • Note pads
  • Basic writing tools: pens, highlighters, pencils.
  • Bookshelf: Keep all your books organized
  • Bookbag
  • Trashcan

5- Additional Items

  • Basic cleaning supplies: disinfecting wipes, mop, breeze, etc.
  • Hanging hooks adhesive: use them to hang decorations without damaging the walls
  • Cooking tools: Most dorms offer a kitchen with a fridge, microwave, and a stove
  • Plates and utensils

Beyond the dorm room essentials list…

dorm room college essentials

We covered the dorm room essentials shopping list. Obviously there are many more items that you will need or might want during the semester. We recommend starting with the basics. Then, you can take a day to explore decoration ideas . Also, as the months go by you might buy more clothing, books, gadgets, etc. Do not worry about getting every single item on day one, but getting what you need in the near future.