Okay, so everyone anticipates university being expensive. Tuition costs can be found online, and you can also look up how much it’ll cost to live on or near campus. Of course, you’ll still have to mortgage your iPod and maybe set up a payment plan on your liver, but there’s comfort in knowing how much you have to pay. In fact, the costs associated with university are generally set, or slightly variable under your control—your phone plan, food, rent, are all chosen by you, at least to a degree. Your tuition, gym membership etc. are set, and also invariable, so they can be planned for.
This leaves the big unknown, the real outlier, the forever elusive… textbook costs. Sometimes, a class will have a course materials pack costing $20 flat (though there are the hidden costs of the copy store potentially being swarmed by cops and “busted”). Other times there will be a textbook for $175, or a whole bunch of books (and the prof always says the specific editions matter…) for a cumulative $250.
All totaled, textbooks can cost as much as $1000 in a given semester, or as little as $250, in my experience, and their prices are completely out of your control.
EXCEPT! Oh, happy day! As in all things money-related the market has worked its magic and ways to save money (with additional costs in the form of time, travel and inconvenience, unfortunately) have appeared over the years.
When I was packing for university, it was more like I was packing for The Island than Canada’s capitalist capital. I would stress out that I had to buy, like, a stapler before I left, and my mother would tease me mercilessly: “You do realize there may be a few stores in Toronto, Lizzie?” or “Yes, if need be we can ship you deodorant, but I think you’ll be OK just buying 17 sticks for now.”
As a jaded fourth-year, I can happily say that I was both right and wrong in my packing technique. Here’s my philosophy: you can buy anything you need in Toronto. Or, at least, if you can buy it elsewhere in Canada, you can probably get it here. That said, when you’re new to a city with so much to adjust to, it’s comforting to already have everything you really need. If you don’t take it from me, take it from her. (I was going to embed the link, but the words “storage,” “spruce” and “dorm room” lost their meaning.)