Like many parents the return of our children from college has had its challenges. There are the late night hours they keep, bad habits they bring home and their expectation that you will now once again feed, clothe and clean their laundry.

Surpassing all of this however is what to do with the items they have collected during their tenure at college.  Many college students are choosing to live in apartments while at college.  By the time they are done they have acquired sofa’s, refrigerators, dining room furniture, appliances and entire bedroom sets.  In short the car load of things you moved to college with them has grown to an entire apartments worth of stuff in four years.

We then help them pack these items, move them out of their building, transport them back to our homes and then move them back into our garages or basements.  Once they are at your home a few boxes may be opened but after the initial move in period they will never be touched again. Until the parents purge them to regain use of your garage or basement.

Having been through this cycle twice with my own children I have some advice.

  1. Plan the return move early. Leave yourself enough time to figure out what will be moved back and what to do with things that need to be disposed of.
  2. Establish an Items Future Value: My wife and I held onto all of our children’s college stuff for years in anticipation that they would eventually need it at their first apartment.  WRONG!  They didn’t want any of the hand-me-down furniture that had been stained or was missing parts.  The décor items you carefully packed were not needed.  In truth they took very little of the items we had moved back.
  3. Solution 1, Pre-Move Purge: Have them donate or sell whatever items you can while at the college. Large appliances like refrigerators, vacuum’s, televisions, kitchenware or couches will be needed by the next tenant.  Try to sell these items without having to move them.  If necessary you can replace them in the future.  Find local thrift shops or other college friends to move the items onto before the day you arrive to help move them.  Some will come pickup items for free. Make sure your child knows that whatever they bring home will need to unpacked and stored shortly after they return home.  It will be an incentive for them to decide whether the collection of  beer steins from the local watering hole are really worth keeping.
  4. Solution 2, Moving Day Purge: Know how you will be dealing with the bigger appliances and furniture. Sometimes there already are plans in place with the college or local municipality where you could leave items curbside for disposal. Or you can arrange for a local dumpster company or a college classmate with a truck to haul and dump the items.  The expense could be shared by a group of parents moving their children back home. PS – Have your children arrange for some of their guy friends to be there to help with the heavy lifting.
  5. The actual Move:  Now you should be close to a reasonable amount of items to move back home. There are many options to transport the bigger items.  If you don’t own a pickup truck or trailer a local one way rental van might be your best bet.  With many sizes you should be able to find one that fits your need or budget.  Other options include moving companies or local U-Load Storage Containers that can be loaded by you and then moved to your home for unloading.