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What do I really need to buy?

In this video, students at the University of York share their experiences of what they needed to buy before coming to university - and what they didn'
I actually found I didn’t need to buy as much as I thought I would. For my course, I already had stationery and folders from college and school. And when it came to my accommodation, I already had a duvet and I could take cups and mugs from the kitchen at home. And the essentials I needed to buy were really things that we didn’t have doubles of, so things like pots and pans, and pizza cutters, kitchen scissors– all of the little things that if you forget, it can be quite annoying in those first few days. Firstly, I would take a couple of photographs. You’ll be able to put these up on your notice board in your room.
And you’ll be able to make the room more homely and feel like you’ve still got a bit of home with you. There are, of course, textbooks that it’s recommended you purchase. And I purchased them second hand which meant that it was much cheaper than buying them from Amazon. And some of them can be quite expensive if they’re new. And for the accommodation I think what a lot of people might not know, but I think a doorstop is quite essential because it means that you can socialise with your flat really well.
For your course– for things like textbooks or exam specific calculators, I’d give it a term or at least a couple weeks to gauge which textbooks are prioritised because they can be very expensive. And if you buy them ahead of time and never use them, then that’s a waste. You can also look for programmes where older years can trade them down or you can get them from older years with the reduced price when they don’t need them anymore. I certainly wouldn’t buy like masses of stationery and notepads before you know how– or the best way that you learn - is. I found myself with tonnes of different notepads and I didn’t use them because I didn’t need to.

The list of things you ‘need’ to buy in preparation for moving away from home can feel endless so try and think about what you would need as a bare minimum to get you started and then you can gradually buy things as you settle in and discover what you can and can’t live without.

The items you need to buy will also depend on the type of accommodation you’re living in (catered or self-catered) and the course that you’re studying, so make sure you check in advance what your accommodation provides and what your department recommends you need.

Buying for living

  • If you are living in self-catered accommodation you will need kitchen equipment such as pots, pans, crockery and cutlery.
  • Even if you are in catered accommodation you will need some basics as you might need to prepare one of your meals each day, and at weekends. Do remember you just need enough to get you started and you may well be able to share or buy other items with your flatmates once you settle in.
  • You’ll also need things like bedding and towels but do have a look at what is provided first.
  • Don’t forget to think about other essential purchases such as a TV licence and contents insurance and check whether these are provided by your university.

Our University of York webpages have some guidance about living costs at university which will help you plan for the year. You can also find out more about this in the budgeting section of this course.

Buying for your course

  • When it comes to your course costs, read the information provided by your department carefully. This should highlight which books, field trips and items are essential for your course and which are optional.
  • Your department may point you in the direction of second-hand sales where you can buy textbooks and other course materials from former students to help save some money.
  • Most university libraries will also have plenty of course materials available to loan, so it’s worth checking these out before making any expensive purchases.

Don’t overdo it!

If you are travelling to university on your own or by public transport don’t overload yourself by buying everything before you arrive. You can buy many of your essentials once you get to university either at the on-campus shops, in town, at your local supermarket or online and that way you can check exactly what you need or want before you start buying.

Whether you are someone who would prefer to plan and arrive at university fully equipped with everything you need, or whether you are happy to buy the essentials once you arrive at university, make sure you keep an eye out for student deals and university-run second-hand sales to help you get everything you need!

Just for fun… we’ve created a Padlet where you can upload images of anything you think is going to be essential for you personally. Or feel free to use the Comments in this step to add ideas as well, whatever works best for you.

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