As my son spends his last week in Tucson before moving to Texas for grad school I ponder a lot over the last 5 years of his college life. With 5 move in/move out experiences, I’m sad I won’t be there to physically help him this time. Thought I’d compile a list of things for some parents who may be new to this experience or share a chuckle down memory lane (or just shake our heads…)

1. Take time-stamped pictures (video, too) of EVERY aspect of the condition of the rental (inside fridge, inside cabinets, under the kitchen sink, in the shower/tub, etc.) when they move in – while it’s empty. Document what isn’t working properly. Boy this came in handy when a landlord accused my son of a bent post on a back patio in which repairs would come out of the security deposit. I had a pic that we time-stamped and sent to her. Case closed!

2. NEVER assume that any apartment roommate will leave the apartment clean, undamaged, or turn in the keys on time if they are the last person out. And who will the security deposit go to? Currently, my son cannot track down his landlord??##!!!?

3. Get a written lease. (I know, sounds basic, but you’d be amazed at who will rent what to whom with no legal documentation, only to be disputed later. And your kid is almost always on the losing end.) Make sure the renter understands how much notice must be given when they want to move out, and how much notice the landlord must give them if the landlord wants them out.

4. Discuss what will happen when 1 roommate (let’s say an early graduate or someone who moves out in late spring 2 months earlier than lease is up)…Do you know how many kids cover this rent for “their friend”???

5. Find out ahead of time when trash & recycling is collected and where and when it should be left. What the city/town will take and what they won’t (really important for unpacking at move-in time and discarding at move-out time.) This was so stressful when garbage cans were not taken to curb 2 weeks in a row and large broken items not tossed by a roommate and his parents. My son had to deal with this clean-up or should I say,… me.

6. IKEA stuff can be your best and worst friend. It’s cheap and serves multiple functions. It also comes into the space in boxes and usually can’t leave the same way. And those boxes of processed particle board are incredibly heavy to carry up and down the stairs. Way heavier than most regular furniture. It’s almost impossible to take apart without damaging it and making it useful in another space (unless it’s the really higher-end product.)

7. Many college campuses have list-serves/Facebook selling sites/online clearing houses for outgoing students to sell furniture cheap or give it away free to current students. It’s a great way for them to save money, get rid of stuff they won’t need, and re-purpose stuff so they don’t have to buy new (and easier than dealing with Craigslist.)

8. Don’t buy cheap pots & pans. Buy the better stuff and buy less. They usually only use one pot and one skillet. Max. Period.

9. Knives – see above. One paring knife, one larger knife. Period.

10. Not related to the actual move, but this just happened, so fill out a “delegate’ form with your mobile phone carrier so your child can go into a store and purchase a phone if they lose theirs.