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Guest post by Lisa S. Griffith, CPO

[Here are] some hard-learned lessons from parents who have moved our millennial kids from dorms to apartments multiple times (to date: 2 kids/7 apartments over the past 6 years). And yes, when I say “moved,” I mean rented the truck and physically moved the stuff. I know you’re probably looking for organizing tips, but we found this stuff to be incredibly important and often overlooked in our journey. This is the kind of stuff college kids who’ve lived in dorms for their college careers don’t know, and sometimes parents find out the hard way.

  1. Take time-stamped pictures (video too) of EVERY aspect of the condition of the apartment (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.
  2. Take time-stamped pictures and video of EVERY aspect of the condition of the apartment when they move out, when it’s empty and cleaned. Document everything.
  3. 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. Go back and check yourself (see above).
  4. 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 the 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.
  5. Find out ahead of time when trash and recycling are collected, where and when they should be left, and 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).
  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 but 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, especially in the kind of apartment buildings that most new college grads can afford (read: no elevator, lots of rickety stairs.) 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. Pay careful attention to how high/wide the stairways are and how wide/high the doorways are to the apartment. Even full-sized box springs and a small loveseat can be a challenge to get up to the 4th floor walk-up of the winding stairway of an old building.
  8. Many college campuses have list-serves/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 Craig’s List).
  9. Don’t buy cheap pots and pans. Buy the better stuff and buy less. They usually only use one pot and one skillet. Max. Period.
  10. Knives – see above. One paring knife and one larger knife. Period.

Using Lisa’s awesome tips not only will save you money and time, but also help you avoid many potential problems. Many thanks to Lisa for her contribution!



Lisa Griffith is a certified professional organizer and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers who resides in Providence, RI. Her specialties are home office and small business office organizing, time management coaching and household paper management. Her contact info is:,




Adriane Weinberg

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