Getting your first apartment can be an incredibly exciting time. You may be a current student moving out of your college dorm and into something more spacious or a recent graduate living with roommates off-campus. You might even be a working professional learning to live alone for the first time. Whatever the case may be, moving into your first apartment means you’ll have ample freedom to cultivate a life that’s entirely your own.
Amidst all of this new excitement, there are definitely some stressors that come with moving into an apartment for the first time. With moving costs, utilities to set up, and maybe even the need to coordinate with your roommates, the transition into a new apartment can be just as anxiety-inducing as it is thrilling. And if you’re moving into an unfurnished apartment, chances are you’ll also need to purchase new furniture, household appliances, and other typical apartment necessities before you can really get settled. That’s where our first apartment checklist comes in.
Related: Moving in Together? 8 Helpful Tips For Living With Your Significant Other for the First Time
What do I need for my first apartment?
It’s tempting to think you need to acquire a ton of items as soon as you move in. In fact, there are a ton of first apartment checklists out there that rattle off dozens of things that, in reality, you don’t need to get started on living your best new apartment life.
We’ve compiled a list of first apartment essentials specially tailored for those who don’t want to spend a ton of money on the essentials (especially on top of needing to fork over a security deposit and first month’s rent). Below are some of the most common apartment necessities you’ll need for your first apartment. But remember that some of these items you won’t need right away. Take your time, especially if money is tight.
First Apartment Checklist: What to Buy for Your First Apartment
Household necessities to purchase at a discount for your first apartment
Did you know: Many of the things you’ll need to buy for your first apartment can be found at a local dollar store (true story!). If saving money is a priority, purchase as much from this list as possible at a discount, then head to another big-box store to buy the rest.
- Bed sheets and comforter set
- Clothes hangers
- Hamper that doubles as laundry basket
- Bed frame
- Bedside lamp or other light fixture
- Alarm clock
- Extra blankets
- Toothbrush holder
- Hand soap
- Bath towels and washcloths
- Toilet paper
- Bath mat
- Shower curtain and rings
- Essential toiletries
- Toilet brush and plunger
- Bathroom cleaning supplies
- Pots and pans
- Coffee mugs, glasses, and drinkware
- Plates and bowls
- Dish towels
- Chef knife and a small paring knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Ice cube trays
- Can opener
- Serving spoon and spatula
- Paper towel holder
- Coffee maker and filters
- Dish soap and drying rack
- Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
- Food for the refrigerator
- Extra non-perishable food items
- Trash bags and trash can
- Paper towels and napkins
- Laundry detergent and fabric softener
- Dish and laundry soap
- Multi-purpose cleaner
- Multi-purpose cleaning brush
- Iron and ironing board
- Sponges and Brillo pads
- Broom and dustpan
- Mop and floor cleaning supplies
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit and essential OTC medications
Pro-Tip: If you want to get all your shopping for household items done in one location, consider Target or Walmart for competitive pricing. If you have a membership, stores like BJ’s and Sam’s Club are ideal for stocking up on apartment essentials like paper towels and toilet paper, especially if you’re buying them for both you and your roommates.
Related: How to Organize a New Home as You Unpack
Find these first apartment must-haves at a thrift shop
Want to know the best way to save money on your first apartment furnishings? Purchase as much as you can used. Here are some items that make the most sense to buy secondhand or get as hand-me-downs from friends or relatives. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even try to DIY some furniture by painting it or building it from scratch.
- Coffee table
- Multi-purpose table and chairs
- TV stand
- Accent chairs
- Home decor items
- Vases and other functional decor
- Organizational shelving and storage
- Desk and computer chair
Related: How to Thrift Furniture for Your New Home
Things you don’t need to buy for your first apartment right away
It’s tempting to want to purchase every new appliance and piece of decor as soon as you move into your first apartment. Resist the urge! The longer you live in the space, the more you’ll figure out the best way to decorate and the best way to store items you don’t use regularly. The following items can be acquired later once you’ve lived in your new apartment for a little while and saved up a few more paychecks.
- Buffet or console tables
- Area rugs
- Small kitchen appliances you know you won’t often use, like a blender or mixer.
- Home decor items
- Bookshelves and other shelving
- Knick-knacks like candles or houseplants
- Wall hooks
- End tables or nightstands
- Lamps (unless your apartment has no other lighting)
- Drawer and cabinet organizers
Use Our Helpful First Apartment Checklist
While you’re out shopping for your first apartment, feel free to refer back to this checklist. You can even print off this article and cross things off the list as you go! Remember that while renting your first apartment is fun and exhilarating, it’s easy to get carried away with purchasing too much stuff right away. The biggest takeaway here is to take your time and bring items into your apartment slowly. That way, you don’t end up with things you don’t need or like.
Do you have any tips for moving into an apartment for the first time? If you’ve recently moved into your first apartment, would you have done anything differently? Reach out to us on social media and let us know.
Read these articles next:
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- Should You Move During a Recession? 6 Things to Consider First
- How to Save Money for a Down Payment on a House
Editor’s Note: This post was published on August 20th, 2018 and updated on February, 28th 2023.