4 Reasons Why You Should Wait to Go Dorm Room Shopping

The early bird may not get the worm when it comes to shopping for your new home.
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By now, almost everyone knows where they're living for fall semester. You might be staying the same place you lived last year, or with the same roommates. In this case, moving in is a cinch. Moving into your first dorm, however, or even a brand new apartment, can be both stressful and exciting.

I know my inclination last year was to start shopping for apartment stuff in early August because I was just too excited. Trips to Target, IKEA, and The Container Store were frequent. I wanted to start early so I could have a theme for my room and acquire any furniture before it sold out.

I moved into my place with more stuff than I needed. As I began to place it all, I realized I wasn't even working with the space. I wasn't decorating the room– I was giving a room the decorations I bought. I could have benefited from not being so eager. Here are four reasons why you should hold off on dorm room shopping:

1. Space Requirements

You might have toured your new apartment or been given the dimensions of the room from the dorm coordinator, but it's impossible to actually remember all the details of the space.

For example, the floor plan of our apartment last year did not mention a large structural beam in one of the rooms. As a result, one of my roommates couldn't fit her bookshelf next to the bed like she planned. My freshman year, I thought I would have plenty of space in the dorms, but I failed to account for things that came with the room, like a mini-fridge and the rather large trash and recycling bins.

Because of this, it's often better to wait until you actually move into your space before purchasing furniture or other large, expensive items.

2. Duplicates

If you're going to go shopping early, create a Google Doc or shared list with your future roommate(s). If you don't, you may end up buying too much stuff. Coordination within your apartment can prevent you from living with two printers and wasting a lot of money.

3. Back-to-School Deals

This doesn't sound like a bad thing, but shopping too early means you might not realize how many unnecessary things you've bought until it's time to move in.

I started shopping early and became excited whenever I found something cute for my desk that cost less than $10. However, I moved in and realized I had three decorative coffee mugs and a few vases. All this did was clutter my space and I had to pick and choose which things to keep.

Had I waited until I had a clear vision of the room, I probably would have been able to avoid the temptation of a "good buy."

4. Transportation Process

I have the greatest friends who moved me in rather than making my poor mother do it. We filled my friend's Prius up with all of the stuff I had bought and tried to sort out the mess later.

Honestly though, I wish I had just brought the necessities– bedding, a few wall decorations, a lamp, etc.– and let the space dictate what I should buy. I would have rather made a concise list and taken a day trip to IKEA after I moved in.

If you're going to have to haul a bunch of stuff a long ways from home, or are flying, it makes more sense to pick up what you need at a store close to campus.

Final Thoughts:

Moving in can be super-fun, but not being organized can make it a nightmare! Don't be afraid to start buying stuff now, especially if you know you'll need it. Do, however, think carefully about whether something is an impulse buy or a necessity. It can be hard to get rid of something once you've already purchased it!

What do you think?

Do you prefer to shop early or wait until you've scoped out your space? Upperclassmen, any dorm room shopping tips to share? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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