Should You Buy Or Rent a Mini Fridge For College?

When it comes to running down the list of dorm essentials that you may need before you head to college, one question on many students’ minds is “should I buy or rent a mini fridge?”  The answer to that question is… “it depends”. 

Well, that’s not really an answer at all, is it?  Maybe not, but the  truth is that the decision about whether to buy or rent mini fridges in college will depend on a number of different factors that you should consider first.  So, what factors will help you decide whether to rent or buy a mini fridge?  Read on to find out…

Buy or Rent a Mini Fridge?

  • How much space do you have? – Do you already know how much space you have in your dorm room to house a mini dorm fridge?  If so, then going out to buy a mini refrigerator before you actually get to school may be doable.  Mini fridge dimensions can vary, so you first need to know if the fridge you buy will actually fit in your dorm room.
  • What features do you want or need? – All mini fridges are not alike and if you buy a mini fridge rather than renting one, you’ll have more selection so you can get what you want.  For example, you can get a mini fridge with a freezer compartment, a mini fridge with a microwave attached, or a mini fridge that just has refrigerated space.  You can get a mini fridge that offers 1.7cu ft, 3.2 cu ft, 4.4 cu ft or 6.0 cu ft of capacity.  You can even get a really compact mini fridge or a portable mini fridge that is small enough to put on your desk so you can just keep a few snacks or drinks in there for when you’re burning the midnight oil.  If you want, you can probably even get a pink mini fridge to coordinate with your dorm bedding, if you really search hard enough!
  • How are you getting it there? – Sure, you may prefer to have a nice shiny, new mini fridge in your dorm room, rather than one you know has been filled with “who knows what” for many years, but if you’re buying your own mini fridge, you need to consider how you’re getting it into your dorm room.  If you’re travelling far from home, do you have room to transport the fridge with you?  Even if you do, or you pick up the fridge at a local retailer, will it be easy to get the mini fridge into your dorm room even during the utter chaos that can be move-in day?  Then you also need to think about when you’re moving out and whether you’ll still be willing to lug that fridge home with you (although you can always try to sell it!).
  • Who’s paying for the fridge? – Most often, when roommates rent a mini fridge, they split the cost since they both will use it.  But what happens when you buy a mini fridge?  Are you going to split the cost?  If so, what happens to the fridge at the end of the school year if you are not going to live together next year?  If you’re willing to cover the whole cost of a mini fridge so that you can keep it next year, then you may want to buy one so you’ll be able to use it again, but remember that your roommate should still have equal access to it.  If you buy it together but will not live together next year, one option is to try to sell the fridge at the end of the year and split the proceeds.
  • How much will it cost?  So, you’ve figured out the rest – whether you have room, what amenities or dimensions you would like, and even how you think you can get it into your room, now it’s time to think about cost.  Mini fridge prices can vary quite a bit.  The good news is that you can buy a cheap mini fridge for less than $100 and it will probably serve your purposes just fine during the school year.  Some mini fridge prices will be quite higher than that, however.  If you are renting a mini fridge for your dorm, you can expect to pay closer to $200 for the year.  Is that worth it?  It very well may be to save you the hassles and inconvenience of having to buy the fridge, haul the fridge to school, get it up to your room, and figure out who’s paying for what and who’s keeping the mini fridge when school is over.  On the other hand, if you buy the fridge and sell it at the end of the year, the fridge may hardly cost you anything to use all year long.
  • Where will you get it?  If you rent a mini fridge from school, they usually make the whole process super simple.  You can just sign up ahead of time or on move in day, pay the rental fee (and possibly a damage deposit) and the fridge will miraculously appear in your room.  If you’re buying a mini fridge, you can check out retailers like Target or Walmart, or you can head online to buy your mini fridge at Amazon, Ebay or other online retailers that may be able to ship it right to your dorm (be sure to check out any restrictions on receiving large deliveries in your dorm first).

Deciding whether to buy or rent a mini fridge for your college dorm room may be only one of many decisions you have to make before you pack up your things and head off to college, but few college students will dispute the fact that having a mini dorm fridge is one of those “must have’s” on their dorm room essentials list, so it’s worth taking the time to discuss with your new college roommate what you’re going to do about making sure you’ve got one in your room when the semester begins.

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