So, you’re full of excitement to start your university journey, but it’s a little daunting too. Living out of home is a new experience and full of new challenges and adult responsibilities.

You’ll start balancing cooking, cleaning, travelling, expenses, budgeting, and on top of it all - studying. But you’ll also make some potentially lifelong friends, one of which could be a new roommate in student accommodation.

Adjusting to your new independent lifestyle might feel a bit like being thrown in the deep end, but we know you’ll manage just fine - and we have some great lifestyle hacks to help you along the way!

1. Using a clothes iron to make a crispy toasted sandwich

Feeling hungry? With no toaster or snackwich maker in sight? Look no further than the trusty clothing iron to help turn a boring dry sandwich into a juicy toasty!

toasted cheese sandwich made with a clothes iron

To make a cheese toastie with a clothes iron, take two slices of bread and butter them both like you normally would and layer a slice of cheese or two between the slices of bread. 

Wrap tinfoil around the sandwich until it’s covered comfortably. Now, turn on your clothing iron and give it a moment to heat up before applying it to each side of the sandwich. 

Make sure to give each side of the sandwich a dose of the hot iron for around 4 minutes. Once you’ve finished, peel away the tin foil to devour your delicious cheese toasty. 

2. A makeshift smartphone stand for watching your favourite series:

Having your neck curled down to focus on your favourite youtuber’s latest release can be a bit painful after you’ve spent time watching a few videos.

Another awkward situation that doesn’t make for easy watching is trying to lie your device flat to watch movies or youtube videos while doing something, like washing the dishes for example.

smarthphone stand with bottle cap

You can create your own little stand to balance your phone at the perfect angle to watch your favourite shows.

Take a bottle cap and slice two grooves on opposite sides of the cap. Fold the leftover piece away from the bottle cap, leaving the open grooves exposed and slot in your phone.

bottle cap for smartphone stand

The little leftover plastic tabs will help balance your phone and the grooves will secure your device in place while you watch whatever you’d like! This makeshift stand is ideal for most smartphones, just be a bit wary of placing larger, heavier devices onto the stand for fear of them falling over.

3. Making simple scrambled eggs in your microwave.

You can also make a quick cup of scrambled eggs as a snack if you’re feeling peckish.

In a shared living situation, sometimes you may not have access to all the crockery you need to make a quick breakfast or snack before you leave the house. Insert passive aggressive note to housemates to do their dishes.

Why not try scrambled eggs, which you can whip up like a wizard in only a matter of minutes.

scrambled eggs cooked in a mug in the microwave

To do this, take your mug, crack two eggs and pour them into the mug, add some shredded cheese and a splash of milk then put your mug into the microwave and set the timer for 45 seconds.

After the first 45 seconds, take the mug out of the microwave and give the mixture a stir before returning the mug and adding another 45 seconds to your microwave’s timer.

You can repeat this process until the mixture is cooked through, just remember to stir the mixture at each cooking interval.

Save yourself time and dishes!

4. Create a foolproof alarm for getting up in the morning

Some of us really struggle to get out of bed in the morning. When missing morning lectures and meetings isn’t something you can afford to do any more, and you’re in need of a stronger wake up call, we might just have the answer.

homemade speaker using cellphone and a glass

Try placing your phone in an empty glass next to your bed. When your alarm clock sounds the next morning, the shape of the glass will amplify the sound, kicking you out of your slumber.

This is a great alternative to shilling out a few hundred rand on a portable speaker. Get your morning off to the right start and test out this nifty tip!

5. Using a wet towel to create a DIY air conditioner

Scorching summer months in Cape Town can feel a bit claustrophobic when you have little escape from the heat. And what’s worse than having a day of feeling hot and bothered, only to go home and struggle to fall asleep as humidity clings to your skin.

Chances are, your student accommodation setup won’t have luxury extras like airconditioning to keep you and your flatmates cool during a sweltering evening. And buying a fan might eat into your monthly allowance.

using a wet towel as a homemade airconditioner

To help you keep your cool and get a good night’s rest, why not try this little trick. Take a towel and drench it in water. Wring it out and hang it from a hanger or over a chair in the draught of an open window.

The breeze will enter your room and your wet shirt will create a cool breeze to mimic air conditioning, and help you keep cool while you get a good night’s rest.

6. Labeling keys with nail polish

With a key ring full of clutter, it can be hard to find the key you need in a pinch. Instead, you’re left fumbling and using up the little time you have left in the morning.

Seek out a specific key with ease, by using nail polish to colour code the base of each key. 

student labeling keys with nail polish for colour coding student life hack

Use a range of different colours to label keys that fit various doors, cabinets or windows around your apartment. 

Alternatively, if you haven’t got nail polish on hand to help you, you can also scratch a noticeable groove into the stem of your key to differentiate it from others you have hanging from your key ring.

7. Never lose your keys again!

We have two different solutions for the inevitable problem of misplacing your keys.

The first is to stick a strong magnet on the  fridge and use it to hold your keys (and other metal items you frequently misplace). The fridge is a visible place to keep  and having your keys in plain sight will stop you from wasting time struggling over keys you’ve stashed away who-knows-where. 

Another creative way to hang your keys, is to incorporate one of your childhood pastimes. Using lego bricks and a board as a way to organise your keys. 

hanging a set of keys from a lego board and pieces

Take a lego board and pin it onto your wall. Now, take a piece of lego you’d like to use to hang your keys from, and drill a small hole near the bottom of one of piece’s ends. 

Loop your keyring through the block and attach it to the lego board – voila! This is a great way to keep organised and it’s a really fun twist on standard key holders or hangers, and is likely something everyone can appreciate – even if part of it is to get a bit of a laugh from your guests. 

8. Using elastic bands to organise toothbrushes in the bathroom

Having a shared bathroom space can result in multiple people leaving their toothbrush in the same glass. This isn’t necessarily ideal, and can be a bit unhygienic. 

Here’s a way you can use elastic bands to change this:

toothbrushes divided by elastic bands in a grid

Take a few elastic bands and wrap them over the top of the glass to create a grid formation that’s perfect for keeping some distance between items like razors and toothbrushes. 

You can also use dividers to separate other items, such as in your fridge. 

9. Use drink dividers to organise sauces and spices in your kitchen. 

Look at finishing a 6 pack in a completely different light. Use the leftover cardboard inserts as dividers in your fridge to stack bottles of spices and sauces.

Alternatively, use a leftover egg box to divide items inside the door of your fridge.

beer box inserts as fridge organiser
egg box as fridge organiser

You can also use cardboard dividers from boxes of wine and other bottled beverages, to segment parts of your cupboards or drawers so you can organise your items just the way you like.

Alternatively, it would be easier to use small boxes and arrange them in a grid in your drawers to separate different items. This can help when you need to remove items from the drawers, and you can just pick up one of the boxes and replace its contents.

dividers in bedroom drawer to create space
dividers for bedroom drawers for clothes and socks

10. Labelling cords with bread tags and cable management with bread clips.

Are you the tech enthusiast in your shared student accommodation? Always struggling to organise your wires, and by now even your roommates are getting tired of tripping over your cluttered cables.

CMS, or cable management systems, are the expensive way of getting rid of this problem – but if you’re in need of a cheap and quick alternative to help organise those unorderly cables and wiring situations try this easy hack.

When you and your flatmates chip in for weekly groceries, and buy bread, try to keep the tag used to seal its packaging after you’ve finished your loaf.

You can use this tag to organise a few cords and label the tags with small descriptions, so you’re not left wondering where each cord leads.

using bread tags to label cables for computer

11. Binder clips as cable holders

On the topic of cable management, you can also use file clips in a unique way to collect those cables that always seem to vanish behind your desk.

Use the clip and fasten it to the edge of your table. Take the cords that usually run from your outlet and behind your desk, and place each cable into the metal ring.

use binder clips to manage cables in technical or audio setup

Now when you unplug your cables, such as from your laptop when you leave for university in the morning, they won’t disappear into that dark nook behind the counter and leave you fumbling in frustration.

12. Using binder clips to organise your fridge.

Binder clips are more versatile than one might think as they can also be used to divide and create stack items such as bottles in the fridge.

Creating a stack of items that’s organise vertically will help maximise the space you have available, which might be quite limited depending on how many people share the same fridge.

using binder clips to stack bottles in the fridge
using binder clips to stack bottles in the fridge

Bottles can often clutter different levels of your fridge and leave you reaching around them to reach smaller items. This can lead to horrible accidents, resulting in a mess of shattered glass and whatever was inside the bottle to begin with. 

Using binder clips to organise your fridge will keep things looking pleasantly organise and help you find items far quicker than you normally would.

13. Use binder clips to fix a wonky keyboard

Binder clips can also be used to fix the fleet of wonky keyboards. It can be the most frustrating when you’re studying, and typing away, only to have your keyboard lurch to one side and fall off balance.

Then you flip your keyboard around and realise one of your keyboard’s feet is missing or damaged and lying your keyboard flat just won’t work for you.

using binder clips to fix wonky keyboard
fixing wonky keyboard feet with binder clip

Here you can use binder clips to create makeshift feet to balance your keyboard perfectly.

Remove the metal piece from the clip, and your wonky keyboard foot from beneath your keyboard.

Now, slot the metal frame into the holes on the bottom of your keyboard to give your keyboard a firm footing for the future!

14. Boiling eggs in a kettle

Getting ready in the morning with your flatmates can present a few challenges. If you’re sharing a bathroom and kitchen, you can often be left stranded waiting to shower or make yourself a snack in the morning while your roommates are busy.

If the stove is occupied and you’re left without a pot to boil an egg in, in the morning, why not try the kettle?

boiling multiple eggs using a kettle

It may sound slightly unconventional, but it’s an effective way to make sure you get the right start to the day.

To get started, place your eggs in a filled kettle and set it to boil. Leave your eggs boiling for around 10-12 minutes for a soft boiled egg and 15 minutes for a hard boiled egg.

Of course, this is an alternative and comes with a slight risk of your eggs exploding on the kettle and leaving you with a mess. Although, it has even been tested on kettles with exposed heating elements and it’s unlikely to occur – it’s something to keep in mind in case it leaves you with more to clean up in the morning.

15. Extra kitchen space – place a cutting board over a drawer

Having a dinner party with your flatmates? Squabbling over precious kitchen space on busy mornings?

If you are finding that your student accommodation kitchen isn’t quite big enough to support multiple masterchefs and busy weekday mornings, we have an easy way to make some more room.

Open a drawer (preferably a sturdy drawer) and place a wooden cutting board over the top of the open drawer. Voila! instantly you get a bit of extra space to slice some ingredients or prepare a small breakfast, lunch or supper.

cutting board over drawer to create extra kitchen surface space
cutting board over drawer to create extra kitchen surface space

16. Use drink can tabs to hang multiple hangers from one another.

In shared accommodation, hanging space in wardrobes can present a problem. Whether you’re sharing closet space, or you just have a limited wardrobe space of your own, you can use drink tabs as a way to maximise the amount of clothes you can fit in your wardrobe.

Use the tabs from the tops of any soft drinks, and connect your hangers using both ends of the tab. This allows your clothes hangers to link with each other, and now you’re able to hang multiple sets of clothes from one hanger, saving you loads of space.

drink tabs allow you to hang multiple clothes items from one another
drink tabs allow you to hang multiple clothes items from one another

17. Microwave two bowls at once!

Smaller microwave? No problem. Heat up two bowls in the microwave at once.

If you have access to a microwave in your flat, the chances are that it could be quite small. Even if it’s a regular sized microwave, it’s not always the easiest task to heat up two bowls of last night’s leftovers for you and your flatmate, without one having to sit the first round out.

stacking two bowls in a microwave for heating using a glass

In this scenario, you can use a mug or short glass as a pedestal on which to place a second bowl and have your food heated up in no time!

If you’re microwaving pizza, another tip is to place a small glass of water alongside your leftover pizza in the microwave and begin to reheat your pizza.

Microwaving pizza? Remember to add a small glass to your micro when heating up your leftover pizza so the crust doesn’t become chewy.

18. Cooling down drinks in a pinch.

Wrap with a wet paper towel and put in the freezer for a few minutes.

Having shared fridge space will often mean you aren’t guaranteed a space for drinks, as tonight’s main course is more important right?

If you’re in need of a cold brew and only have warm bottles of beer or soft drink, try wrapping them in wet paper towel and placing your drinks in the freezer for a few minutes.

wrapping a bottle in paper towel in freezer to cool liquid down

This will cool your drinks down quickly, and will only take up space in your freezer for a matter of a few minutes. After a while, check to see how cold your drinks are, remove them from the freezer, peel off the paper towel and enjoy!

If you’re planning to have a party, but you’re missing an ice bucket for your friends drinks, try using your bathtub.

using bathtub with ice as a ice bucket
using bathtub with ice as a ice bucket

Fill it with water, and add bags of ice to create a makeshift ice bucket that’s really large and less messy than a traditional ice bucket which can leak and spill easily.

bathtub filled with ice for ice bucket and lit with blue leds

19. Adding a motivational spark to your study sessions – with sweets!

Study can be a bit of a drag, especially after a long day of classes with a daunting test or exam ahead of you – it can be hard to stay motivated, even in the shortest bursts.

Here’s an idea to help you with short bursts of motivation to make sure you’ll get to the next chapter of your textbook.

sweet studying method

Attach your favourite sweet, in our case gummy bears, to different chapters and paragraphs in your textbook. Once you reach a specific paragraph, you will be rewarded for your effort!

Just make sure the candy you use doesn’t mark the book, otherwise you’re well on your way to making your study sessions far more interesting.

Pick your favourite student life hacks and put them to good use today!

Now that we’ve reached the end of our list, put these lifestyle hacks to good use! They’ll make each day a little bit easier – and they’ll leave you feeling more organised.

student working at desk

Having your ducks in a row at home, will help clear your head so you can focus on your studies and the tasks you need to take on throughout the day. 

So, start preparing for a new exciting student experience. It’s one of the best periods of your life, where you’re bound to learn loads, make lifelong friends and figure out how to manage your new-found independence. 

And, if it’s all feeling a little bit much, have a look at our Student Resources and Blogs page for articles to help you prepare for university life, such as The Survival Guide to Student Accommodation, 17 Things to Know Before Signing Your First Lease, What Can I Expect to Pay as a Student Living in Cape Town – and plenty more!

So, join us in Durban Road in Mowbray by booking a viewing for our spacious, modern apartments and the spectacular sight of Table Mountain!

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