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Fun, freedom and new friendships - leaving home to go to college or university can be an adventure, whether you choose to live in halls of residence or private rented student accommodation.

Once the initial excitement has died down, there will be practicalities to resolve: how much does student accommodation cost; what sort of student digs will suit you best; how will bills be divided up; who will be responsible for cooking, cleaning and paying the rent? Making your new home from home comfortable will help you settle in, so here are some useful tips and ideas.

What to take to university

Because space is often at a premium in student accommodation, there's no need to bring a year's worth of clothing with you. Plus, you may want to go shopping after you settle in - the onesie you wear around the family home might feel out of place in your new digs.

Be aware that your wardrobe in halls could be smaller than your wardrobe at home. As you'll be arriving for the autumn term you won't need shorts and summer dresses as much as warm comfy clothes for walking to college and lounging around in.

A basic checklist should include: your trusty jeans, tracksuit bottoms and some warm jumpers or sweatshirts, as well as outdoor gear. Limit yourself to a couple of everyday pairs of shoes or boots, a pair of trainers and two pairs of going-out shoes.

Beds and bedding for student rooms.

Even with many students today holding down jobs during term time, late nights remain a staple part of the student experience. If you are renting a room in an unfurnished house, ask your folks to treat you to a new storage bed with handy drawer space. Remind them that a comfortable, supportive mattress is essential for restful sleep, helping with memory function, studying and exam time.

Whether in halls or a rented flat or house, you'll need to bring your own bedding; make sure you also pack extra blankets for the colder weather as your student accommodation may not be as cosy as your family home.

Cooking up a storm

Communal living may have its challenges but it also has its benefits, such as pooling resources at mealtimes. Don't bring a kitchen's worth of utensils with you - if six of you sharing all bring six of everything you won't be able to get into the kitchen. You can always pick up any items you need cheaply on the local market. Write out a rota for cooking and clearing up afterwards and set a weekly food budget. Shop around - the ends of the supermarket aisles tend to have the best offers and look out for the reduced food that is about to go out of date for cooking that same evening.

Student Storage

Storage is the perennial problem of student living, so make sure you stock up on a range of different sized boxes and crates. You can use them to transport your worldly goods to your new home and to keep things tidy once you get there.

The best boxes will be sturdy enough for heavier items but light enough to be lifted easily. Choose a range of sizes, including wide, flat boxes that will fit underneath your bed or at the top of a wardrobe. Plastic crates are tough and hardwearing and will protect against damp. Another good investment is an Ottoman box, which can be used both for storage and additional seating.

Top tips from our student team

To round things up, here are five top tips from students who have been there, done that and got the T-shirt.

  • "Bring two or three extension leads - there are never enough sockets for your computer, iPod, hair straighteners and all the other items you need to plug in."
  • "Ask your landlord before you decorate and use glue dots or Washi tape to hang posters - they don't damage the walls as much as Sellotape and Bluetac."
  • "Don't iron clothes on the carpet - you could face a big bill for scorch marks."
  • "If you like to leave the window open at night, ask to not be put in a ground floor room in halls."
  • "Make sure meter readings are done as you move in and do your research if you use one of the companies that cover your bills for a monthly payment - not all are reputable."
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