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Depending on your university, your halls of residence will have different rules as to what you can bring, and which appliances can be used in your room. In fact, two different halls in the same university may have different rules. Your university will send you guidance or direct you to information online.
However, there are some rules that are pretty much universal.
Anything you bring should have a CE mark
If you’re going to university in the UK, any appliances you bring with you should have the CE mark, which looks like this.
The CE mark is a form of certification that guarantees a product meets the health, safety and environmental standards of the European Economic Area. Basically, it shows that your appliance is safe to use and that it won’t catch fire when you plug it in.
Your halls of residence may test appliances when you arrive or ask to see certification.
If you buy an appliance from a reputable retailer in the UK, for example John Lewis or Currys PC World, your products will definitely be CE certified. But be wary of buying from private sellers on Amazon, where items may be shipped from other parts of the world and are not always certified.
Pack an extension lead
As you’ll have a few things to plug in, you’ll probably want to bring a four-socket extension lead so you can do it safely. Make sure it’s in good condition.
This one, from RS online, costs £3.41.
There will be shared appliances you can use
Your shared kitchen will have appliances that you can use while you live there.
For cooking, there will be a fridge, oven, microwave, toaster and kettle. For cleaning, they’ll have a shared vacuum cleaner. For laundry, there will probably be a coin-operated washing machine and dryer, as well as an iron and ironing board. Don’t bring any of these appliances along with you. (Obviously, you'd have a hard time getting a washing machine in your wheelie case anyway.)
What you can’t bring
Almost all universities will specify that you can’t have a toaster or kettle in your room. As there will be a shared toaster and kettle you can use in the kitchen, you can cross these items straight off your list. The same goes for a microwave.
Deep fat fryers and irons are also usually prohibited for safety reasons.
Heating devices of any type are also usually banned. This includes any type of portable heater, including paraffin, fan and oil heaters, electric fires and electric blankets.
What you can bring
Your halls of residence will have specific rules, so check before you invest but these are the appliances you’re likely to be able to take with you.
For your room
A desk fan is useful to have, not only for keeping you cool but for helping you stay awake and feel refreshed when you’re studying for long periods.
We’d recommend the Meaco 6-inch cordless desk fan, available for £29.99. It has a footprint of only 14cm, so it won’t take up half of your desk space. It’s efficient and unobtrusive and also has a night light. The fan has four speeds and it’ll run for up to 14 hours on a single charge. Best of all, it has a micro C port, so you can charge it from your laptop.
To see which other fans we’d recommend, have a look at our round-up of the best fans we’ve tested.
Depending on your halls, you may be allowed to bring a mini fridge to keep and use in your room. If you’re allowed, make sure it’s in good condition, with a CE mark. The maximum permitted dimensions for a fridge of this kind will be approximately 515mm high by 500mm wide.
Currys PC World is selling a black, 43-litre Russell Hobbs mini fridge (49.2 x 47.2 x 45cm) for £89. It’s A+ energy rated and it weighs 14kg, so you’ll be able to carry it from the car to your room.
If you’re considering buying one, don’t forget that fridges make a constant humming sound and you’ll be sleeping in the same room, so it may get annoying. This one is pretty quiet, at 42dB.
If you need to store medication in your room and your university won’t allow you to bring a mini fridge, they may provide one for your use if you contact them in advance.
If you’re not much of an ironer, you could opt for a small clothes steamer instead. These are handy for refreshing garments as well as getting out the wrinkles. Using a steamer is a good way of getting another wear out of a shirt that’s not quite ready for the wash. (That right there is the essence of university.)
You can buy the SteamOne travel steamer from Currys PC World for £19.99. It’s a pretty basic device: fill the 200ml water reservoir with tap water and switch it on. It takes 2.5 minutes to heat up the water and you then run it over the garment. It’s an 800W device and it measures 220 x 105 x 175mm.
If you’re a caffeine fiend and can afford something a bit better than a jar of instant, you might want to invest in a small, budget capsule coffee maker. (Forget about a larger machine, like a drip coffee maker, as that won’t be allowed.)
Bear in mind that some halls won’t let you use it in your room, so check before you buy.
Right now, you can get the De’Longhi Nescafe Dolce Gusto Jovia machine from Amazon UK for £34.99 (with free delivery).
Dolce Gusto machines are simple to use and their pods cost around 19p each, although you can often find deals on both branded and non-brand compatible pods to bring the cost down. What makes them even more quick, clean and convenient is that you can buy milk pods to make blended drinks like cappuccinos.
For the bathroom
You may have a shared bathroom or one of your own. In either case, don’t count on having a two-pin shaving outlet. If you’re bringing in bathroom gadgets that charge at a shaving socket, like an electric toothbrush or shaver, you should bring a converter so you can charge them at a three-pin plug if you need to. This two-pack of converters costs £5.99 from Amazon UK.
If you’re looking for a budget electric toothbrush to take with you, we’d recommend one of the earlier generation Oral-B brushes, like the Oral-B Vitality, which you can get from Argos for £19.99.
At this price, it’s not exactly loaded with functionality but it’s a solid brush that’ll make a big different to the health of your teeth and gums. It has a two-minute timer to remind you how long to brush for and comes with two brush heads.
If you’re looking for an electric shaver, we’d recommend the Philips OneBlade. It’s not the cheapest razor around but it’s very versatile, so you can use it as a beard and stubble trimmer as well. We gave it a five-star review when we tested it.
You can buy it on Amazon UK for £33.33.
If you’d like more recommendations for electric razors, have a look at our round-up of the best we’ve tested.
For the kitchen
There are other small appliances you can bring along but you’ll have to use them in your shared kitchen. Bear in mind that this means other people will probably use them as well, and in the case of a toastie maker, this means they may get left in a pretty gross state.
Rice is a cheap and versatile ingredient and if you’re going to make it often, a rice cooker is a good investment. It also gives you another way to cook if the hobs are in use (or covered in congealed pasta sauce).
You should be able to get a decent rice cooker for £20. Our recommendation would be this Russell Hobbs 1.8 litre rice cooker, which doubles as a vegetable or fish steamer. It comes with a spatula and measuring cup and costs £18, with free delivery.
A cheese toastie is one of the best comfort foods around. This Russell Hobbs toasted sandwich maker is £21.13 on Amazon UK, with free delivery.
Toastie makers are not the easiest things to keep clean, though, especially if everyone uses it. This one has non-stick plates, so once it cools, you should just be able to run over it with a damp cloth and you’re done.
If you’re going to cook at all – and being able to whip up a few edible dishes is key to staying healthy and saving money at university – a hand blender is just about the most useful bit of kitchen equipment you can have. You can make soups, sauces, dips and smoothies really easily, using fresh ingredients.
You don’t need an expensive hand blender if you follow two rules: use the pulse function for tough ingredients to protect the motor and don’t try to use it to crush ice.
Argos is selling the 600W Cookworks hand blender and accessory set for £21.99. This set has everything you need to cook anything you might fancy. It comes with a whisk (for eggs and baking), a mini chopper (for quickly dicing veg) and a tall blending beaker.
The mini chopper is an especially useful accessory as a hand blender is really only good for blending items with a high liquid content. Its blending head has to be totally immersed or it’ll fling food everywhere.
As a bonus, these blenders are really easy to keep clean. The blending head is removable so you can wash it under the tap when you’re finished.
If you’re a smoothie fanatic, or you drink a lot of protein shakes, you might want a dedicated blender.
The 0.6 litre Breville Blend Active will blend your drink straight into a plastic to-go bottle. It can also crush ice. It costs £19.99 from Argos.