Move-In Checklist

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Move-In: What to Know and Bring

Are you moving to UC Berkeley soon and thinking about what you need to bring? If so, this article is for you. While Berkeley Housing provides a standard move-in checklist that should inform your packing, this article contains an in-depth supplemental list tailored for students, by students.

The Essentials for All Students

  1. Bedside Caddy Organizer
    For anyone sleeping in loft or bunk beds, a bedside caddy is your best friend. These hang off the railing of your bed and allow you to store items such as books, reading lights, and even your tablet.
  2. Clear Bag
    If you plan to bring anything into a sports game, a clear bag is required. If you don’t already have one, they’re available at the Cal Student Store.
  3. Command Hooks
    These are renter-friendly hooks that allow you to hang things on your wall. For those living in the residence halls, remember to check what is allowed to be hung up!
  4. Pain Relievers, Cold Medicine, Antacids
    You’ll be surprised how quickly you run out of these, so pack more than you think you need. If you live in a Residence Hall, having spare cold medicine will make you everyone’s best friend.
  5. Blue and Gold Merch
    You don’t have to go crazy with your UC Berkeley gear, but I will say that having one or two pieces of Cal clothing can get you into the school spirit when first moving in.

    Morgan (left) and Ammanuel (right) sport their Cal gear at the Recreational Sports Facility.

  6. A Rotating Wardrobe
    It’s unnecessary to take heavy winter clothes to school during the spring, as these items will only take up precious closet space. Instead, try to rotate out your clothes by the season if possible. Having layered outfits for cold mornings and warm afternoons is also helpful.
  7. Umbrella (or your preferred rain gear)
    Don’t underestimate the Bay Area weather! In addition to an umbrella, sweaters and warm blankets are also a good idea.
  8. Personal Interest Items
    Life at UC Berkeley isn’t all just schoolwork. To pass the time, my roommate brought games (and got our entire floor hooked on the game One Night Werewolf), I brought my water colors, and my film friends brought their cameras. Plan for how to store these personal items if they take up space!

    Nina (right) and Sean filming with a DSLR camera for the Cinematic Arts & Production Club.

Residence Hall-Specific Items

Before diving into this list, an important reminder is that everyone is different when it comes to moving into a residence hall. (I often joke that one of my roommates brought an entire house—a stark contrast to the other who brought just two duffel bags.) Be prepared to realize that you may have overpacked, or that you’ve forgotten items at home and now have to purchase them at school or have them shipped to you. It happens to everybody.

Now, on to the list! While these items aren’t limited to those living on campus, they are suggested with the Residence Hall living experience in mind.

  1. Water Pitcher
    Save yourself trips down the hall or stairs with a water pitcher. The tap water is safe to drink, but many people use filtering pitchers.
  2. Mini Dry Erase Board
    Having a dry erase board hung on your door is one of the easiest ways to get your floormates to interact with you. It’s how my room initially made a lot of our friends! We hung our dry erase board up using double-sided VELCRO that didn’t pull any paint.

    Drawings on Nina’s whiteboard from her various floormates.

  3. Shower Caddy
    This is mentioned by Berkeley Housing, but something to keep in mind is that there are generally two types of shower caddies: hard plastic baskets and soft mesh bags. If you’re comfortable setting your caddy down on the shower floor, a hard plastic one will do. If you’d rather not have your caddy touch the ground, buy a soft bag caddy that hangs on the hooks in the showers.
  4. Bathrobe
    The shower stalls tend to be on the smaller side, so if you’re not comfortable walking down the hall in just a towel, a bathrobe is a good investment.
  5. Shower Shoes
    If you’re wondering whether these are a necessity—yes, they are.
  6. Dish Soap and Sponge
    These are essentials. For months, I didn’t have my own dish soap and had to borrow my roommate’s, which was quite inconvenient.
  7. CSCPay Mobile App
    This is an app you’ll download once you’ve moved into your residence hall, but I’m including it here because it will truly make your laundry trips twice as fast. CSCPay Mobile App allows you to pay for your laundry directly from your phone, meaning you don’t have to go through the hassle of swiping a credit card and waiting for the sale to process.
  8. Thumbtacks and Painter’s Tape
    Seeing pictures of family and friends in your room can make you feel less homesick. Thumbtacks can be used on the soft, cork board-material walls beside the beds. Painter’s tape can be used everywhere else.

    Natalie’s bedside wall setup.

  9. 2 or 3 Bath Towels
    Multiple towels ensures that you won’t have to do laundry every other day, and won’t take up space in your room.
  10. 2 Sets of Twin Extra-Long Bed Sheets
    The official Berkeley Housing move-in guide lists sheets, but not a quantity. The general consensus tends to be that two sets is the right number.

Items for Off Campus

A general rule of thumb for living off campus is to reuse whatever you can from the res hall list above. This might include sheets, mattress topper, or shower caddy. Another good practice is to head to a department store within a few days after you move in to purchase any items you don’t have.

The following list contains off-campus-specific move-in items. While the items on it aren’t limited to those living off campus, they are suggestions from students who reside outside of the res halls.

  1. Vacuum Sealer Bags
    These are great space savers and can be used to pack larger items such as thick clothing or stuffed animals.
  2. Compost Containers
    The city of Berkeley composts! Check with your apartment to see if they have the green composting bin outside with trash and recycling, and consider getting a small compost bin similar to those provided in the residence halls.
  3. Extra Sheets and Air Mattress
    These are helpful if you intend to have friends or family stay over. Additionally, some couches can extend out to create a bed, so feel free to look into those too.
  4. Quarters
    It’s common to need quarters if your apartment doesn’t have in-unit washer and dryer machines. (Residence halls have laundry rooms, and machines only accept credit or debit cards.) Additionally, quarters can be used for printing on campus at locations such as the Moffitt Copy Center.
  5. Food Storage Containers
    If you’re living with roommates, having storage containers makes it easy to separate food and keep track of whose things are whose.
  6. Internet Router
    This may or may not be necessary depending on what type of apartment you move into, so be sure to check with your leasing agent prior to moving. Your apartment may require you to use an internet router to access your WiFi!
  7. An Office Chair
    This is a worthwhile splurge for students who tend to study at home for several hours at a time.
  8. Pots, Pans, and Cutting Boards
    These items don’t need to be brand new. Check for them online at second-hand shops and in person at thrift stores.
  9. Aluminum Foil and Parchment Paper
    Aluminum foil can be used for food storage, and—alongside parchment paper—for covering baking surfaces.

    Cookies baked on parchment paper by Natalie.

See If You Need

The following list consists of items that can be a hit or miss; some people prefer to have them, but others don’t. In addition to personal preference, they’re dependent on your roommate situation. Most likely you’ll only need one of each of the items listed below, such as a handheld vacuum. Coordinating who’s buying what with your roommates ahead of time can expedite the process of settling into your new home, but for those who are living with new people, it may be best to hold off on purchasing the following items until you’ve talked in person.

  1. Handheld Vacuum
    For students living in the res halls, having a handheld vacuum means you won’t have to lug the large vacuums provided by Berkeley Housing from your unit’s main office all the way up to your room.
  2. Lock for Bathroom Lockers
    Res hall bathrooms include lockers that many students choose to store their toiletries in. While a lock for these is suggested, the chances of your items being stolen or accidentally used by another person are fairly low.
  3. Laundry Basket
    If you’re comfortable bringing your clean laundry back to your room in your empty hamper, you don’t need to waste space with laundry baskets.
  4. Food
    Food is obviously an essential if you’re living off campus without a meal plan, but it’s important to coordinate with your roommates so that you don’t bring doubles of larger items such as flour, rice, and sugar.


This category refers to items that are either prohibited by Berkeley Housing, or found to be generally unnecessary by students. Consider leaving these items at home.

  1. Printer
    Printing is available at the Academic Centers in the residence halls. It’s also free at the Open Computing Facility!
  2. Too Much Professional Clothing
    Having one or two pieces of businesswear is important in the event of an interview. However, bringing more than three of these professional outfits tends to just take up closet space, especially if you’re a first-year.
  3. Candles, Incense, Plug-In String Lights
    These items are specific no-gos for the residence halls, but please check whether they are permitted by your apartment complex! Note: Battery-operated string lights are permitted in the residence halls!

Making Your House a Home

While it’s almost inevitable to either overpack or underpack, reading other students’ experiences can help mitigate the general mayhem associated with move-in. I hope the tips provided in this article will help make your housing for the next nine months feel more like a home.

Nina Takahashi is a second-year at UC Berkeley majoring in film and Japanese. Cover photo by Elena Zhukova.

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