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Moving Out of the Dorms?

10 tips to make the process less painful

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College roommates decorating room
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Moving out of the dorms? Here are 10 tips to make the process a little easier:

  1. Spring Cleaning: Encourage the notion of a pre-spring break cleaning. Doing a trash purge just before spring break means that much less garbage to deal with on the last day of school. You know your child will bring home bags of dirty laundry for your washing, er, pleasure! But if weather permits, have him bring home any winter clothing, boots and/or flannel sheets that he doesn't still need at school.

  2. Divide and Conquer: If your child is coming home at any time before the end of second semester, or you are going to visit him, take an empty duffel bag or two and start packing up winter clothing and any other non-essentials. Every bag you can get out of the room early is a bag you won’t have to deal with on the last day of school.

  3. Consider Summer Storage: If your child's dorm room has accumulated a lot of possessions - he's purchased a mini-fridge, for example, or you've traded in the Suburban for a Prius - you may want to consider a summer storage option. Store bulky possessions at a self-storage place near campus and you won't have to move it back next fall either. Most self-storage places take reservations, so you'll want to reserve a unit 30 days ahead.

  4. Purge the Fridge, Dump the Trash: Have your child empty his refrigerator as soon as his last final is over, and start taking trash to the dumpsters. Wait till the day the dorms close and those dumpsters will be full.

  5. Sell the Books: Encourage your child to assess his textbooks and sell back anything he no longer needs. English lit books - Canterbury Tales, for example, and 1984 - can be used by siblings or friends forever, but genetics textbooks become obsolete very quickly. Sell them to the campus bookstore, via Amazon or Craigslist or through a textbook rental company such as Chegg.com, where an excellent condition, Organic Chemistry textbook that retails for $156 can be sold back for $81 or traded in for $89 in "Chegg Dollars" - which can be used, in turn, to rent next year's textbooks. And Chegg pays the postage. Any of those options is preferable to lugging heavy books home to rot in your garage.

  6. Bring Supplies: It is easier to pack a car with regularly shaped objects – boxes or large Rubbermaid bins - as opposed to black plastic trash bags, grocery bags and loose items. So bring packing boxes, rolls of packing tape, a roll of paper towels, a bottle of cleaning fluid, and a few trash bags for actual trash. Wear grubbies. Bring bottles of water and granola bars.

  7. Empty and Load: Time for the move! Empty all drawers, desks, cupboards and closets. Check the area under the bed and atop tall pieces of furniture. Pack boxes and tubs as neatly as possible, so they hold as much as possible. Don't mix dirty laundry into boxes of clean contents. Take water breaks, watch your back, and clean as you go. Use the corridor as a staging ground, stacking each packed box neatly against the wall until you're ready to make a trip down to the car.

  8. Consider Donations: You may find there are some items that you and your child will be willing to part with, if space doesn’t permit them aboard – rugs, for example, or oddly shaped, relatively inexpensive items, such as electric fans or lamps. So many items of this sort get thrown away on move-out day, some schools have started setting up separate dumpster areas so those items can be salvaged and donated. If your child's school does not have such plans, consider doing a Goodwill or thrift store run before packing for home.

  9. Pack 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out, Rawhide: If you have lined up summer storage space, either in campus housing or off campus, move those items first. Then enlist all your Tetris skills and start loading your car with everything that’s coming home. Save soft items – blankets, bedding and overcoats – to stuff into nooks and crannies and pad fragile items.

  10. Final Sweep: When the room is completely empty, do one last drawer and cupboard check. Check the restroom too, if your child has a toiletry cupboard there. Sweep out the dorm room and mop off any obvious grunge. Unplug the mini-fridge and arrange for pickup. Pull out the dorm checklist the university gave you last fall, the one that lists existing damage, and go over it with an R.A. so your child can check out.
One last potty stop, hugs all around and you’re off! Now the only problem is, where to put all that stuff when you get back home...

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