Student essentials: What you HAVE to buy before you go... and where to get it

uni checklist essentials

First published in The Mirror

You’ve got your results - so university really is happening!

You've not got long to start planning for the big move - to make sure you're as confident and comfortable as possible when you arrive in your new home.

What to buy for halls

A wok - There’s not much you can’t do with a wok - well, that involves cooking. A wok is great for frying, steaming, boiling and deep-frying too. You can currently grab yourself a bargain carbon steel one at Debenhams for £8.40, down from £28.

  • Bedding - There isn't a lot of room for decoration in student digs, so your bedding is where you can really add your personality. You can currently get bedding in sale starting from £9.60 for a single duvet set.
  • Shower slippers - Unless you’ve forked out for fancy student accommodation with an ensuite bathroom, you’ll be sharing a shower with a load of strangers. Keep your bare feet off the dirty bathroom floor with shower slippers or a pair of £1.75 flip-flops from Sports Direct.

What not to buy...

  • Kitchen sets - Kitchen sets are very tempting, because they offer a what seems like great value for loads of cooking gear. But, are you really going to use a milk pan, pizza crisper and 4x measuring spoons? Probably not.
  • TV - You’ll probably have a computer or laptop so you can watch everything you want on that and as long as it’s catch-up only you’re watching you won’t need to buy a licence. If you use your computer to watch live TV though you will still need a licence and if you get caught watching without one you could face a fine of up to £1,000. The good news is you can get money back on your licence if you have one (and only need one per property if you're living out)
  • Anything too fancy - Don’t be tempted to buy anything too expensive, and leave all your fancy rugs/lamps/trinkets at home. They are going to get wrecked. Just because you’ll look after them, doesn’t mean your housemates will.

Study essentials to invest in

  • Laptop - You’re going to need a laptop, because going to university isn’t all Jägerbombs and Netflix binges - you’ll need to do work. Wherever you buy your laptop, don’t forget to mention you’re a student and negotiate a discount (or at least something thrown in for free). We've also got a handy guide on cheap university laptops here.
  • Dictaphone/voice recording app - Being able to replay your lecture whenever you want is a life-saver. Make sure you ask permission from your lecturer though. Dictaphones start from about £25, such as this Olympus VN-765 4GB dictaphone from Argos .
  • External hard drive - You’ll thank your lucky stars you backed everything up when your laptop crashes 6-hours before deadline day. You can get a 1TB hard drive for about £50, such as this Seagate 1TB Expansion Portable Hard Drive at ebuyer.

What you don't need

  • Textbooks - Wait until you get to university and see what you really need. Most graduates will tell you that they spent hundreds of pounds on textbooks that they never opened. Remember, all set texts should be in your university library.
  • Dictionary - You’ll probably use it as a door stop.
  • Desktop computer - You’re going to need the freedom to take your computer to university, friends houses, the library and back home. A desktop computer is going to restrict you.

Wardrobe essentials

  • Loads of knickers and pants - So you don’t need to wash your clothes too often. Boux Avenue have an offer where you can three pairs of fun and fashionable knickers for £12. At Topman you can get three pairs of trunks for £15.
  • Plenty of warm clothes - Your student flat is likely to be cold (lots of skint students refusing to put the heating on until it snows outside). You’re going to want big jumpers and thermal vests/leggings to keep yourself from turning blue. You can get heattech t-shirts for men and women, for £9.90 at Uniqlo.
  • Dressing gown/onesie - You NEED a onesie for your down-time. This unicorn one from Boohoo is about as good as it gets for £15.

But don't go overboard...

  • Fancy dress costumes - it's far cheaper (and funnier) to make your own.
  • Summer clothes - wardrobe space is scarce and you only have a month or so of good weather, and that's if you’re lucky. Keep away from those summer sales.
  • Nothing that is dry-clean only - you aren’t going to pay for that, face it.

Health and hygiene must haves

  • Colour catchers - it will stop your whites going grey, or everything going pink if you leave a red sock in there. You can get 24 sheets for £3.20 at Waitrose.
  • A massive laundry bag - It’s a great place to stick all the clothes that are on your floor when there's a last minute inspection or your parents drop by. You can get enormous laundry bags at JoJo Maman Bebe for £6.
  • Industrial size shampoo and conditioner - Stock up before you go on a big set that will last you a year. You can buy a TIGI Bed Head Hair Care kit (750ml each) for £18.95 at

What not to buy

  • Glass/window cleaner - you’re never going to wash your windows.
  • Candles/Incense - Sure, they may smell nice (unlike your room), but burning down your flat is a real danger. Buy some Febreeze instead.
  • Branded pills - Don’t bother with pricey Nurofen, Panadol, Nuromol etc, when you can buy own brand tablets (with the same ingredients) for 25p.