How to Move Out of Your Dorm

You’ve probably been counting the days until school is over. The fact that it’s just around the corner means that you’ll have to start thinking about how to pack up your dorm for storage over the summer. We’ve compiled a list of the things you should take care of in order to efficiently vacate your dorm and keep your things safe and sound until you return in the fall.


What to Keep, Throw, or Give Away

Your first step should be to start going through your belongings to determine what happens to everything. You should organize items into 3 or 4 categories.

First, decide what you want to bring home. This will mostly consist of clothing and shoes. But you’ll also want to bring home luggage (duh), certain toiletries and makeup, certain electronics (your laptop, chargers, etc.) and other items. Make sure you separate what is yours from what is your roommate’s. Believe it or not, over the course of a year of school, this line can get blurred.

Second, decide what you want to put into storage. Most likely this list will contain things such as your bed/bedding, desk (if yours), mirror, rugs, wall decorations, closet organizers, microwave, fridge, your bike, and other items. The amount of stuff that you come up with will decide how big of a space you’ll need to store your stuff. (More on storage options later.)

Whatever is left should be divided into two piles – stuff you want to give away (either to friends or to Goodwill), and stuff you want to chuck into the garbage bin. If you live in a dorm this should probably be a fairly small number of items. If you live in an apartment you may have more.


Get Some Boxes

For the smaller items that you’re going to store over the summer, it’s a good idea to pack these into boxes. Purchase new boxes rather than used ones as old boxes may have lost some of their strength and may collapse in transit. As you pack, make sure you mark each box with its contents so that come next fall you’ll know what is what. For the items that you’re donating or throwing, get some black plastic lawn bags. These are typically bigger and stronger than kitchen bags. However, you may want to get some of those white kitchen bags anyway for clothes on hangers. This keeps them together and clean while in storage.



You have multiple options for how to store your belongings over the summer.

Your school may offer free or low-cost storage. The University of Oregon offers 20 cubic feet of storage for free and additional storage for a fee.

If you have a friend that has extra space in their apartment, ask if you can store your things there for free or a nominal fee.

Another option is to hire a service to pick up your belongings and store them for you in pod-like portable storage containers. While at first this seems like a good idea, the cost of doing this can be very high with some services charging close to $600 for a three-month storage.

The last option is to rent a storage unit at a self-storage facility near you. Depending on the amount of stuff you have, you may be able to get their smallest storage unit (typically a 5-ft x 5-ft space), which costs between $39-$89 per month plus fees for administration and a lock. You’ll have to bring your belongings to the storage facility, either by car or moving truck rental. If you have to rent a U Haul, the cost for a small truck is between $19 and $39 plus mileage, which can be around $1-2 per mile. But, if you’re renting at a storage facility nearby, mileage costs will be minimal.

Other Details to Wrap Up

Before you leave your dorm, you’ll need to take care of some additional details.

Dorm Refrigerator/Microwave – You’ll want to clean out your refrigerator, throwing away most, if not all, of the food that you still have in there. Then defrost your refrigerator’s freezer so that any built-up ice is removed. You’ll also want to clean your microwave out. If you’ve rented these items from the school, you’ll need to find out what the protocol is for properly returning these items. (You kept that paperwork somewhere, right?)

Books – If you’ve rented your books, make sure you return them back prior to the school’s (or Amazon’s) deadline. If you’ve purchased your books, you can sell them either to friends, on Craigslist, or back to a textbook rental company like or You may also be able to sell them back to the campus bookstore.

Room Cleaning & Restoration – Most universities require that you return your room to the condition it was when you moved in. You’ll want to do a thorough cleaning, including vacuuming the floors and closets, mopping or wiping up spills that have been there since October, and moving the provided furniture back to its original position. Since you and your roommate made the mess, decide on who will do what cleaning task. Now, do a last walk-through to ensure everything is taken care of.

Complete Checkout – You’ll need to return any keys, fobs, laundry cards, etc. back to your school’s housing department. Doublecheck that you’ve done everything the school requires for leaving your dorm. Failure to do so may result in a check-out fine.

By following these steps to moving out of your dorm, you’ll find the process will go smoothly and you’ll be ready for next year. Have a great summer!

About the Author: Derek Hines

About the Author: Derek Hines

Digital Marketing Specialist

Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Digital Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.