What to Bring to Residence

Move-in day is fast approaching (it’s September 1st this year) and the question remains: what should you bring with you to your dorm room? How much space are you going to have, exactly? Well sit back friend, and let this ex-resident tell you a few things you might want to consider.

  • Check the list that UBC made. Student Housing & Hospitality Services has already made a packing list for you, and it’s a pretty good place to start. You can find it here.
  • Twin XL sheets. UBC dorms have extra-long beds, so make sure you bring the right size of sheets! If you bring just regular twin size sheets you’re gonna run into problems.
  • Computer and security lock. I didn’t have any issues with theft, but having a security cable for your expensive new laptop is always a good idea.
  • Printer.  If you can get one cheap, having a printer is going to be mega-useful for you. Print at your leisure, for cheaper, and without the hassle of figuring out the library system and copy-cards. (That said, if you do have to use the library, the librarians can help you!)
  • Ethernet cord! Without it you won’t have internet.  Some people also like to bring wireless routers so they don’t have to be plugged in all the time, and you can take your laptop into your floor lounge.
  • Photos and posters. When you first arrive, your room is bare. This’ll make it feel more yours and keep the homesickness at bay.
  • Clothes. Obviously.  Just make sure you don’t bring, like, an entire department store with you.  Your room has quite a lot of storage space, but just don’t over do it. You can leave most of your summer stuff at home, but do bring a few pieces of warm weather clothing – September can be very warm. And bring a swimsuit – you get free entry to the pool!
  • Rain gear. Rain boots are a must – walking around the huge campus with soggy feet is not fun.  I managed to get through the year without a proper rain jacket, but make sure you at least have something that’s water-resistant. Umbrellas are good at times, but if you get one make sure it’s sturdy, because it can get veeeery windy. I recommend the brand Totes.
  • A good pair of walking shoes. Going to school at UBC means you are going to be walking. A lot. Like seriously, it is a HUGE campus! Get a good, comfy pair of shoes to walk in, and try to break them in before you get here. (Lesson learned the hard way on my part.)
  • Bathrobe. Some people are brave enough to dash to the bathroom in a towel, but I’m sure not.  A bathrobe keeps you comfy and cozy.
  • Shower flip-flops.  The bathrooms are typically pretty clean, but no one likes that just-showered-in feel on their feet.  A shower tote is also good so you can carry all you soaps and shampoos to the bathroom easily.
  • Drying rack. Let’s face it, the dryers in some residences aren’t the best. A drying rack will save you some money (and energy, too!).
  • Advil and Tums. No one feels good all the time, and when you’re in res, your mom isn’t there to look after you. Having Advil and Tums on hand will be so much better than having to run to shoppers when you feel crappy.

What not to bring:

  • Microwave. You’re not allowed to have one in your room, and there’s a shared one on your floor anyway.
  • Mini-fridge. I personally would recommend against it; you have a shared fridge on your floor anyway, they take up a lot of space, and they cost money. I definitely lived happily without one. That said, if you still want one, you can buy or rent one on move-in day.
  • Pets. Again, not allowed, sorry.

Got more questions? Leave them in comments and I’ll get back to you.


Filed under Residence

91 Responses to What to Bring to Residence

  1. Alex

    Thanks for all the info….What can I use to hang framed pictures or posters on the wall. I am thinking that nails would not be allowed. Suggestions?

  2. Alexis

    Hi Samantha, I’m starting first year at UBC in the fall so I just read your entire blog to take in as much information as possible!

    My question is- I have the correct size flat sheet and comforter, but my fitted sheet is standard size, so it is 4 inches shorter than the guidelines for xl twin dorm sheets! Is there any hope of making it work? (Squeezing it on, putting it on my bed damp from the washing machine, etc.) And if not, where did you get your extra long sheets from so I can get a fitted sheet in the colour I’d like for my dorm?

    • Alexis: Wow, thanks for checking out my blog! :)

      Unfortunately, the fitted sheet is the one that would you can’t really make work. A flat sheet or comforter that isn’t the right size you can deal with it not coming up to your head as far (my comforter was not twin XL), but the fitted sheet just won’t fit. I got my sheets in a set at Home Outfitters, and most linen and home stores should have that size (Wal-mart probably won’t, though). Here is a site devoted to Twin XL bedding: http://www.twinxlbeddingcanada.ca/.

      Darshan: A drying rack can take a fair bit of room, but I found that if I put it in the corner by the closet I could still use most of my room. Also, if you put it up just before you go out, your laundry should be dry by the time you come back and you won’t have the rack up while you’re actually using your room.

  3. Darshan

    Can we comfortably put up a drying rack in the room, given its size? Nobody would want dampness because of wet towels etc

  4. Alex

    Hi again,
    Will my dorm room be provided with a waste basket and trash bags or should I bring my own?

  5. Astrid

    Great advice, quite a few things you mentioned there weren’t on my list yet, THANK YOU :)

  6. Alex: Waste basket yes, trash bags no. I didn’t bother with bags, just dumped my basket into the shared garbage bins in the kitchen area.

    Astrid: Glad I could help! :)

  7. Audrey


    I’m super excited about attending UBC next year and living in the dorms! Although, I still haven’t gotten the chance to see what a typical two-person dorm looks like. Do you have any photos or anything like that?

    Thanks so much!


  8. Leah

    Hi Samantha,

    Thanks for sharing all your great advice, it answered plenty of my questions. A few other questions though, are we allowed to have a kettle in our dorm room to make tea or coffee? As well are hangers provided in our closets or do we need to bring them? Finally, are we allowed to bring in a small storage unit that requires assembly? For example something from Ikea to help with organization.


    • Leah: Yes, you are allowed a kettle, you will need to bring your own hangers, and as far as I know you could bring in a small storage unit, just make sure there’s actually room for it in your room. Something the size of a dresser of smaller would probably fit under your bed if you raise it up.

  9. arthur

    Hello! Just one more question I promise :D. In terms of books, where did you rent/buy them? There are SO many websites and places including the UBC Bookstore and I just want to know where most students get them.

  10. Nina

    Hey Samantha!

    You mentioned that you lived in a single-room.
    I was just wondering, did you have to personally ask UBC to put you in a single room? Or was it enough to indicate it in your housing application, because that’s just what I did? Can you briefly summarize how they assign you to either a single or shared room?

    Sorry for all my questions!

  11. Linlin X

    Hey! I’ve been looking at some ideas of dorm room setup, and there were many people who used the space under their bed as a storage space and filled it with boxes. Does UBC provide organizational tools like these at all, or should we purchase them ourselves?

    :D Good advice, thanks!

    • Arthur: I got all my books at the UBC Bookstore, because on most sites I couldn’t save much anyway, and most of my stuff came with packages and I wanted to make sure I was getting everything I needed.

      Nina: They’ll try to give you what you ask for, but in a lot of cases you don’t. I actually asked for a double but ended up with a single. Another friend of mine asked for a double and got a large single. If you asked for a single, I have a good feeling you’ll get it since most rooms are singles, but anything can happen!

      Linlin: The beds can be raised up to be about a metre above the floor, big enough for a dresser or fridge to fit underneath. UBC will only give you the furniture listed on the housing website, so if you want extra storage for under your bed you’ll have to buy it yourself.

  12. Sydney

    Such a useful post! :D
    Would I be allowed to keep a small coffee maker in my room?

  13. Sydney: A small coffee maker should be fine.

  14. Raman

    Hey! I was just wondering if students living on residence should bring their own printer’s? Also do we need to buy our own curtains for our room? and last question, how is the temperature in dorm rooms? would we need to bring a fan with us?


  15. Tyrel

    Hi, is there anywhere that outlines what size of mini fridge is allowed?

    Thanks, Great post!

  16. Ting

    Hi :) You mentioned that we can leave our summer stuff at home, but won’t it still be a bit warm when we start classes in September? And also if we need to iron our shirts, can we get it done in the laundry room or do we have to bring our own? Thanks :)

    • Raman: I reccommend bringing a printer, it makes life easier. You don’t have to have one though. (You can probably also mooch off of friends on your floor…) You don’t need curtains, your room has venetian blinds. I found that my room was a SAUNA, so a small fan might not be a bad idea, I would just make sure it’s not a big fan.

      Tyrel: I couldn’t find any specifications for fridge sizes, I’m assuming as long as it’s a “mini fridge” or “bar fridge” it should be fine. There will be some fridges for sale/rent on move in day so if you’re unsure of the size you could compare with those.

      Ting: Yes, some summer clothes are a good idea as September can be pretty warm, but just make sure you leave enough room in your suitcase for your winter stuff!

  17. Shadrina

    Hi Samantha :) I was wondering which dorm you stayed in during your first year? And if it were up to us, can we choose between Place Vanier and Totem Park? Can you also tell me the pros and cons of each dorm?
    Thanks a lot for the post, big big help!

  18. H.C.

    Thanks for all the useful tips! Few more questions to add to the pile though; could you tell me how cleaning dorm room/washroom happen and if I need to bring my own vacuum? Oh–and if you want to cook, do you need to bring your own cookware?

    • HC: I’m assuming you’re entering a dorm-style residence, not suite-style. In this case, in most of the houses the bathrooms and common areas are cleaned daily, with some of the bigger tasks being done weekly or monthly, depending on what it is. If you live in the new buildings in Totem Park, you will be sharing your bathroom with one other person and will be responsible for cleaning it yourself. Your dorm room is not cleaned by hospitality staff, that’s your own job. There will be a vacuum on your floor or a neighbouring floor that your RA can get you access to and you will be able to use that. As for cooking, there isn’t really a space to do that. As far as I know, the new buildings in Totem Park have community kitchens in their house lounges, but that’s about it, and you’re required to buy a meal plan if you’ll be in Totem Park or Place Vanier. You’ll probably want a few microwave dishes and possibly a kettle, however.

      If you’re going to be living in a suite-style residence, that’s a whole other story, and you’d have to work out cleaning and cookware with your roommates.

  19. Unknown

    Can You bring a small TV?

  20. Unknown

    Is there cable hookup in the Totem Park residence?

  21. Raman

    Hey! I was just wondering if the dorm rooms had floor or carpet and also if we should consider bringing an area rug?

    • Unknown: Most floor lounges have a tv hooked up to cable or at least basic channels. As for your own room, I’m not really sure. You may be able to wire up cable but it’d probably cost a fair bit. If people bring their own TV’s to residence it tends to be for playing video games, and if you want to watch TV you can use your floor lounge TV and watch with your floor mates. That’s a good way to meet people too!

      Raman: Most rooms have carpet, although a few have linoleum/tile floor, but those ones are typically reserved for those with asthma etc. (In my experience, anyway.) You could bring a small rug (I had one that was about 2 feet by 1 and a half feet) but it isn’t necessary.

  22. Raman

    Hey! I was just wondering if the beds in rez are lofted and if we are able to loft them if they are not? also i was wondering if we would need to bring in bed risers to do so?

    Do our rooms come with any sort of white board or cork board?


  23. Alex

    Hey…thanks again for giving up your summer to answer these newbie questions.

    I have been assigned to Place Vanier. Do you know if the room doors are self-locking? I can see it now..its 3am and I need to use the “facility”…stumble out to the hall like a zombie and the door closes, locking me out. Do I need to carry a key at all times?

    • Raman: The beds aren’t lofted, exactly, but they can be raised up so a bit over metre so there is enough room to fit the supplied dresser or your own mini fridge underneath it. I wouldn’t really recommend bringing in bed risers. Also, most rooms will have a cork board above the desk and a bulletin board on the wall by the bed. (That is, in the furniture setup housing arranges when you arrive.)

      Alex: I’m not sure about all houses. My house did not have self-locking doors (although the doubles may have had self-locking doors, I’m not sure), however I had a friend in TEC house in Vanier that did have a self-locking door. However, if you do manage to lock yourself out, each dorm has a 24-hour front desk in the commons block where someone will be able to lend you an extra key to get back into your room which you’ll need to return within 24 hours. All that being said, it’s also a good idea to lock your door every time you leave, so yes it would be a good idea to keep your key on you.

  24. yvelle

    Hi Sam,
    Thank you for your blog it’s so helpful.
    I was wondering about the wifi/internet in dorms and what it’s like. If I were to bring my own router (wifi box) would I be able to use it? Thanks!

  25. yvelle

    Also, how much money do you usually spend in a month? Estimate?

    • Yvelle: The internet connection is pretty good in the dorms, but you won’t be able to access the wireless ‘ubcsecure’ network you can access everywhere else on campus (the walls are pretty thick). You can definitely bring a router for wireless ResNet and I know several people who did that as well. However, you’ll still need an ethernet cord to connect your router to the wall.

      As for spending, I didn’t keep very good record of how much I spent each month. It really depends on how much you like to shop and buy snacks and eat out. Since your meals should be covered by the meal plan, you don’t have to spend a lot, but I would estimate maybe fifty bucks a month? It really depends on the person.

      • Steve

        Just curious about the wireless router…do you have any information on how to set it up? any particular router that might work better than others? i have read that the IT people dont like to add the wireless router to the rez internet port… if anyone has made it work, can they offer how they did it. thanks

        • Steve: I didn’t have a wireless router, so I don’t really know how it works. My assumption would be that the router would plug into the same port as the ethernet cord would, and IT wouldn’t really need to set it up.

  26. elise

    Do the dorms have airconditioning and also a heater in the rooms?

    • Elise: I can’t speak for the new buildings, but in the older buildings (and my building at least), there was no air conditioning, but all buildings will have heaters. I believe that in some of the new buildings you can control the thermostat for your own room, but no in the old buildings.

  27. Kunal

    Hey Samantha,

    Great info there, thanks. Was just wondering, how long should the ethernet cables be? ‘Cause I was at the store the other day and the cable lengths ranged from 1 meter to 10 meters!

    Thanks in advance :)

  28. Ariel S

    Hello Samantha!

    Thank you for your post, it’s really helpful!

    Two questions: 1) Are iron boards and irons provided?
    2) Are pillows and blankets provided?

    Thank you!

    • Ariel: 1) There are ironing boards sneakily hidden in some floor lounges (mine had one, I don’t know if all of them do though), irons are not provided. 2) One pillow is provided, blankets and sheets are not.

      P.S. You name is really pretty!

  29. Alex

    Mirror, mirror on the wall……is there one in the dorm room or should we bring one?

  30. Ariel S

    Thank you Samantha, your last sentence totally made my day
    ! :D

    I guess I have to buy an iron then (or is there any better option)?

    I will be moving into QLXN this September! (:

  31. HC

    I was just wondering if you’re allowed to bring a fish tank (1 gallon) or fish bowl when living in Place Vanier? Thanks.

  32. Janice

    For the rooms that have a shared bathroom between them, does housing provide toilet paper?

    • Ariel: If you want an iron, then yeah, you’re gonna need to buy it yourself. Or, you could wait til after you move in and see if there’s anyone on your floor who will be willing to share… ;)

      HC: A fish in a tank is acceptable provided you keep it clean and it doesn’t cause a nuisance to anyone (I can’t realy see how it would, but there you go.) See the official pet policy here: http://www.housing.ubc.ca/student-family-housing/pet-policy

      Janice: I couldn’t find anything on the internet as to whether or not housing will provide toilet paper. If you have your housing assignment already and your house/floor has a Facebook group, I would advise asking there and an RA or your house president may know the answer to that one.

  33. Noob

    Hi Samantha,

    I noticed that you said that microwaves aren’t allowed and I was wondering where you found the page on the website that says it isn’t allowed. I keep trying to find it but I can seem to. Thanks

  34. Tri Nguyen

    Hi, thanks for all the helpful tips :)

    Just want to ask ” Where can I find and buy Totes rain boots ? Does UBC Bookstore sell some ?

  35. Josh

    Hi samantha! I Was wondering, how are we allowed to Decorate our rooms? Like Can we bring wallpaper? are we allowed to replace anything? How do the rooms look like

  36. Jay D

    Hi Samantha,

    1. Are we allowed to bring scented candles or should I bring scented oils?
    2. You recommend getting a drying rack, but won’t the floor get soaked?


  37. almost freshman

    This is probably the most helpful blog ever :)
    I will be moving into rez for my first year, and I come from out of province…how do I fit my big fluffy comforter into my suitcase????? Is there another way?

    • Jay: 1. Yes you can have scented candles, you just cannot leave the flame unattended. 2. The drying rack mostly allows the clothes to air-dry and the water evaporates and doesn’t drip much, and in any case I find that the floors are very resilient and you don’t need to worry about them.

      Almost Freshman: Maybe try putting it in a garbage bag and use a vaccuum cleaner to get all the air out? Otherwise you can buy one when you get here. (I drove to BC so I packed mine in the car… but not everyone has that option.)

  38. fisayo

    I got an offer for a single bedroom in the ritsumeikan house. Is that weird for a first year?

  39. Liz V

    Hi Samantha,

    Thanks for this great post, it’s just about the most helpful thing on the interwebs since wikipedia.

    I read in the residence contract that the rooms are “furnished”. I’m sure this means there is some sort of chair for the desk, but am a little skeptical about it’s comfort. Do you have any insight into the quality of the desk chairs in Totem/Vanier residences? Should I bring my own?

    Thanks again,

    • Liz: I’d say the chairs are about average comfort-wise, not the best thing ever but not too shabby either. I got on fine with mine, although I did know others who brought their own chairs. If you’re looking to cut costs I’d say a desk chair isn’t something you need to buy, but if you’ve got spare cash and you want something super comfy then go for it.

  40. Liz V

    Good to know, thanks again!

  41. Dal

    Hi Samantha!
    I’m a first year student and have a single room in the ritsumeikan house. I have no idea what it looks like, and can’t seem to find anything. I know you didn’t live there but do u know any info, or how I could get some. One of my biggest questions is if my bed will have risers.

    • Dal: I don’t know anyone that lived in Rits, but I would assume that the furniture is pretty much the same as other first year dorms. For more info I’d see if your house has a facebook page, and then try to talk to an RA and see if they can send you pictures (which I’m sure they’d be more than happy to do).

  42. Andie

    Hi Samantha!
    Thank you so much for all this information AND your opinions. Moving in is a big deal for me and my friends, and we’re so nervous of making mistakes! But you have answered most of our questions, making shopping for September easier and less stressful.
    But I’m still on the fence about buying a mini fridge. Did you or your friends ever have any troubles with your floor’s shared fridge? I plan on bringing most of the week’s dinners from home, and I would really hate for a lasagna or burrito to go missing! haha
    My roommate already has her mini fridge, but she’s not too keen on sharing; I’d rather buy my own {Can we have two in our dorm?}, or just use my floor’s fridge.
    Thanks for your time,

    • Andie: Thanks for visiting my blog! As for the mini fridge dilemma… For most of the year, I had no problems with the floor’s shared fridge. To be honest, in the last month or so everything started disappearing (I assume someone’s food money had run out!) If you plan to refrigerate a lot of food throughout the year, then getting a mini fridge may be right for you. I would strongly recommend sharing with your roommate, for two main reasons: 1) you’ll find that your room will be crowded enough without any mini fridges in it, so two will make things a bit more crowded, and 2) that’s a lot of electricity for one room to be using; you wouldn’t want to blow any fuses. (Not to mention sharing the fridge is better for the environment ad your house will do better during Do It In The Dark!)

  43. Juliana

    Hey Sam!

    Thanks so much for your posts, I feel like I know QLXN a lot better now!

    I had a couple quick questions though.
    1.) You said that your room came with a full length mirror – which floor were you on? (some RA’s are saying that mirror are not provided :S)
    2.) Is there a kitchen on each floor of QLXN? I will be moving into the 2nd floor soon and I wasn’t quite sure what a “snack kitchen” qualifies as.

    Once again, thanks so much!

    • Juliana: I’m not sure where you got the impression, but I didn’t live in QXLN, I lived in Dene house. I also haven’t been inside a QXLN room, so I can’t speak for their mirrors. The housing website doesn’t actually say that mirrors are provided in all rooms, so it’s possible that QLXN rooms don’t have them. This may be because you’ll have a semi-private bathroom – so you can use the one in there.
      As for the kitchen, to the best of my knowledge, you should have access to a fridge, microwave, and sink on your floor. I believe that QLXN and HMSM have ovens/stoves in their house lounges, though.

  44. Allie

    Hi Samantha, I have a quick question about laptop locks. Just wondering if the dorm rooms have anything to lock your laptop up to (on the desk or anything?). Most laptop locks have a loop at the end – is there anything to hook that up to?


    • Allie: The desk I had had a keyboard tray under the desk that was connected to the top part by a metal bar that I looped my lock around (it’s a bit hard to explain). Other desks may have a hole for chords which you could also use. If you get creative, you can definitely find something to loop it around!

  45. Debbie

    Hi Samantha!
    Thanks so much for blogging things like this. I find it super useful for first year students like myself! But I still have a few more questions regarding the stuff we bring to our rooms… Do we need to bring our own hangers to hang our clothes and do we need to bring our own mattresses/ pillows?

    Thanks again!

  46. Debbie

    Oh and one more thing: I know most of you out there are probably used to being independent and all, but do you think on the move in day, my parents can help me move my luggages and things to our rooms?

    thanks :)

    • Debbie: Yes, you will need your own hangers. No, you will not need to bring a mattress (that comes with the bed). You are provided with one pillow, so if you’re a two-pillow kind of person like me, you’ll have to bring the second one. As for your family, they are totally welcome on move-in day! I think almost everyone’s parents help them move in, and they can even can resident pricing in the dining hall on move-in day.

      • Debbie

        woah! Okkay then! thats awesome! thanks!!
        Can you please explain to me what the”resident pricing in the dining hall on move-in day” is about?

        • Debbie: Basically, the dining hall gives residents a discounted rate on the food there. So on move-in day, your parents get to eat at the discounted price.

          • Debbie

            soorrry. but one last question!!

            Do we need to make our UBC card beforehand for the dining hall food on the opening day? Or do we have the UBC card made after we start attending school?

            thanks you so so much!

          • I believe that UBC has you take your own photo and send it to them electronically. If you do that, you’ll get your student card with your student package. If you do that, you can use your card to pay for your meals in the cafeteria. If you don’t, I suppose you’d have to get your picture taken at the bookstore and probably pay with cash until you get your card. That said, I’m not an expert on this.

  47. Gagan

    Honestly this is the best blog ever! I just found it today (totally randomly). I had so many questions that got answered! I got my acceptance 3 weeks ago, I haven’t accepted it yet, but UBC is 100% where I’m headed. :)
    Thank-you soooo much for all the info!

  48. ella

    Hi, I was wondering if there are any private bathrooms, I really don`t want to share a bathroom because I like privacy and I feel like it would be very complicated.

    • Hi Ella, there are some rooms which have semi-private bathrooms which you share with one other person. But, whether or not you get one is luck of the draw. Honestly though, the shared bathrooms aren’t nearly as bad as you might think. Most of the time there’s no one else in there or maybe one other person. The showers and toilets are in stalls so you won’t have your privacy violated. Just make sure you have something to carry all your shower stuff in and shower flip flops and you will be fine :)

  49. Katelyn

    Hi Samantha! thank you so much for this VERY helpful blog. You have answered at least a dozen questions that I couldn’t find the answers to. I have one more for you: UBC sent out a newsletter that included things to bring to help you avoid homesickness. One girl said that she loves to bake, so she said bring muffin tins and baking equipment. I know that most residences only have a “snack kitchen” (sink, microwave, fridge), but do you know if there is an oven that I can access? Thanks!

    • Katelyn: It really depends what dorm you’re in. The new dorms in Totem Park have ovens in their house lounges, the other houses do not. I’m not sure about Vanier. If you really want to bake though you could make friends with your RC because they have ovens in their rooms :)

  50. Maddy

    Hi there! I was wondering if you bring a wireless router, would you have to get internet from a company and pay a monthly internet bill? Or could I somehow connect my router to ubc internet and connect it that way without having to pay an internet bill? Thanks!

    • You should be able to connect a router to the UBC RezNet so you don’t need to get an outside internet service provider, that said I never did it myself and things could have changed so keep that in mind.

  51. balsamo barba y bigote

    Seguramente si te dejas barba querrás llevarla cuidada y para eso tienes que ir a una buena barbería o al menos a una peluquería masculina donde sepan utilizar la cuchilla de afeitar como toca.

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