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Shared Dorm Room Items to Coordinate with Your Roommate

Two college roommates talking in a dormroom
Peter Griffith / Getty

Deciding what to bring to college can be overwhelming, not to mention that dorm room space is at a premium. The great news is you and your roommate don’t have to attempt to fit two of everything in your tiny area. Save time and money by using this list to coordinate with your roommate on these essential shared dorm room items.

Talk with your roommate about these shared dorm room items

1. Mini fridge

A mini-fridge is one of the most popular yet costly shared dorm room items. Check with your roommate to see if they’re willing to share a mini-fridge. While you may be spending most of your meals in the dining hall, having a spot in your dorm to refrigerate snacks and groceries is super convenient.

2. Microwave

Sometimes trekking out to the cafeteria or common area to reheat leftovers just isn’t worth it (especially late-night). A shared in-dorm microwave is the perfect solution.

MYMOVE Pro Tip: Avoid messy food splatters with microwave plate covers. Choose collapsible covers for easy storage.

3. Compact vacuum

If your room has carpeting, it will need to be vacuumed from time to time. Even if you don’t have carpeting, unless you take your shoes off at the door (who remembers every time?), you and your friends will be tracking dirt into your room daily. Add a compact vacuum to your shared roommate items for a dust- and dirt-free dorm.

4. Coffee maker

Early morning classes may require a cup (or two) of coffee to get you out of bed. Check with your roommate to see if they also enjoy a little caffeine. Add a single-serve coffee maker or small 4-cup coffee pot next to your microwave and mini-fridge to create a “kitchen area.”

5. Water pitcher with purifier

Save yourself the late-night walk to the kitchen and stock your mini-fridge with a water pitcher for filtered water. Since mini-fridge space is limited, share a pitcher you both can use to fill up your coffee pot or water bottles. Choose a narrow, space-efficient pitcher for the best fit.

6. Curtains

Once you have your dorm room assignments, find out if your dorm has windows. This is especially important for privacy if you’re on the first floor. Since you may only need one set of curtains, add these to your shared dorm room items list.

MYMOVE Pro Tip: If neither of you is a morning person, invest in a pair of blackout curtains.

7. Dustpan and brush set

Snacking while studying is the norm, and accidents happen. Sweep up spilled bags of pretzels or popcorn with a dustpan and brush.

8. Printer and paper

Printers are expensive. If you’ll need to be printing papers, avoid overspending with a shared printer and printer paper. While your college may have a media resource center, it’s more convenient to print a thesis at 2:00 a.m. from the comfort of your room.

9. Plates and cutlery

Don’t forget to add plates, silverware, and other kitchen essentials to your shared dorm items. These are must-haves with your microwave and mini-fridge.

MYMOVE Pro Tip: A great way to keep your kitchen items tidy is an over the fridge organizer with handy storage pockets.

10. Bulletin board

Hanging a dry erase and cork board combination next to your dorm room door is an awesome way to leave messages for your roommate and post reminders. Keep it simple with one bulletin board, and you each can add your own personal flair with funky magnets or pins.

11. Television

It’s tempting to bring your 60-inch television, but sadly it’s not realistic. A small flat-screen TV is ideal for binge-watching your favorite shows or gaming. Choose a central location for easy viewing for both you and your roommate.

12. Rug

Even if your dorm has carpeting, it’s typically thin, commercial-grade carpet (translation: not the most comfortable underfoot). Talk with your roommate about sharing a plush area rug.

MYMOVE Pro Tip: Confirm your dorm room’s measurements before buying your rug. When in doubt, contact student housing.

13. Fan

Unless your dorm building is new construction, it might not have air conditioning. The beginning of the fall semester and end of the spring semester can be hot, humid, and make sleeping uncomfortable. Add a wide-angle oscillating fan that cools your entire room to save space on bringing individual fans.

14. Textbooks

While your majors may differ, you and your roommate may have common prerequisite core classes. If your schedules allow it, consider sharing textbooks to save on costs. Take saving money to the next level by renting your books.

15. Laundry detergent

Unless you’re close enough to bring laundry home, it’s an unpleasant but necessary part of college life. While you’ll need an individual laundry hamper, things like detergent and fabric softener are excellent shared dorm room items.

16. Speaker

If either of you have a portable speaker, decide ahead of time who will bring it to college. Compare music likes and dislikes and create the ultimate dorm room playlist for studying or hanging out.

How to plan who brings what

Step 1: Connect with your roommate

As soon as your college’s room assignments are released, connect with your roommate right away. Find out their thoughts on shared items, their budget, and what items (if any) they already have.

Step 2: Make a dorm room inventory

Creating a list of must-haves will help make shopping and packing less painful. If you have family or friends in college, ask them for advice on what to bring and what to leave at home.

Step 3: Divide and conquer

Talk with your roommate about who will be responsible for each shared item. This way, you both won’t show up to move-in day with a mini-fridge, microwave, and small TV.

Step 4: Shop for what you need after move-in

Despite all your lists, planning, and chat sessions, you may forget some shared dorm room items. This is the perfect opportunity for you and your roommate to hit your local store, pick up what you need, and split the difference.

The bottom line

Communication and coordination are key in planning your shared dorm room items. Armed with this list, talk to your roommate about what each of you will bring. You’ll get to know your roommate while saving money and precious space.

Frequently asked questions

What should I split with my college roommate? 

Think about the shared dorm room items you’ll both use regularly. Connect with your roommate ahead to get their thoughts on sharing them.

How do you coordinate with your college roommate? 

Whether you’re both local or living across the country, the best way to coordinate with your college roommate is a shared checklist. If you’ll both be doing a lot of online shopping, create a shared Amazon wishlist.

What is the best way to split costs for shared roommate items? 

A printer is certainly more expensive than a small coffee maker, so it’s important to split costs fairly. Make a list of everything you’ll be sharing, the cost of each item, and what each of you will be responsible for bringing on move-in day.

What are the top five shared dorm room items? 

Five shared must-haves include a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, printer, and compact vacuum. Of course, these will vary based on what your college provides in your dorm.

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