Moving out: pack it up or leave it behind?

The semester is coming to a close and it’s time to move out. What are you going to do with all that stuff you accumulated?

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It’s the end of the semester and summer is likely on your mind. The last thing you want to think about is what you’re going to do with all your stuff when you have to move out of your dorm or apartment. All the clothes you’ve accumulated, the couch that supported you during those late study nights, the free swag from the student center — where will it all go?

Moving out doesn’t have to be a hassle if you have a plan. Here are three options when it’s time to pack up and leave: take stuff home, stash items away in a storage unit, or donate them.

Take it home if…

You think you’ll need it over the summer. Take home any items that you use on a daily basis. Your laptop, bike, and any personal items that you might need would be a good place to start. You could also take home things that you want to keep but you won’t need at school next year. If you live far away from your school, be more mindful of what you take back so you’re not packing items that won’t be used over summer break. If you’re close to home, taking more stuff back may not be as difficult. Taking your things home is the least expensive option, but it comes with the challenge of transportation.

Put it in storage if…

You have large, bulky items, such as furniture or appliances. There’s really no need to haul home your couch or mini fridge if it’s just going to sit in your parents’ garage for the summer. Renting a storage unit will make it easy for you to leave your items in a safe place, and moving back in will be much easier, because your stuff will be close to campus. You can also toss bedding, kitchen utensils, seasonal clothing, instruments, books, and school supplies into storage. Be sure to check if any items need to be in a climate-controlled storage unit to prevent damage.

Some campuses offer student storage, but usually storage comes at a cost — units can range from $20 to $300 per month depending on location, size, and other factors. Depending on what you’re thinking about storing, weigh the cost of storage against the price of replacing it next semester. If getting rid of your couch and mini-fridge means you wouldn’t need a storage facility and you can find replacements at competitive prices from second-hand stores in the fall, storage may not be the best option for you. If you do store off-campus, ask if they have student discounts, or introductory rates that will help lessen the bill.

Donate it if…

You don’t see yourself wearing or using the item in the future, or if the cost of replacing the item next year is cheaper than the cost of storing it for the summer. When deciding what to keep and what to give away, ask yourself these questions:

  •  Why do I have this?
  • Do I need this?
  •  Does this item benefit my life on a frequent (daily/weekly) basis?
  •  Would I pay full price for this today?

Once you’ve created a pile of items to donate, the next step is finding out how to discard them. See if your school has a sustainability program that will help you get rid of unwanted belongings. You could also search for your local Goodwill or Salvation Army store — some even offer free pickup. If you have clothing items that someone won’t accept because of wear and tear, look for a Planet Aid donation bin. They recycle clothes in any condition to help protect the environment and prevent textiles from going to landfills. Don’t forget to keep track of all your donations — giving items away to nonprofit organizations may be a tax deduction for you (if you file your own taxes) or your parents (if they count you as a dependent).