Buying all the essentials for an apartment is expensive. This first apartment checklist will help you get everything you need without overspending.

First apartment checklist

Getting your first apartment can be exciting, but sometimes a new apartment is stressful and costly. 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 you don’t need to get started.

We’ve put together a list of first apartment essentials specially tailored for those of us who don’t want to spend a ton of money on top of needing to fork over a security deposit and first month’s rent. Below are some of the most common apartment necessities, but remember that some of these items you won’t need right away. Take your time, especially if money is tight.

New Apartment Checklist

Household items to purchase at a discount.

Many of the things you’ll need to buy for your first apartment can be found at a local Dollar Tree (more than you think actually). If saving money is a priority, purchase as much from this list as you can there, then head to another big-box store to buy the rest.

If you want to get all your shopping for household items done in one location, consider Target or Walmart for competitive pricing. Stores like BJ’s and Sam’s Club are ideal for stocking up on things like paper towels and toilet paper.

For the bedroom:

New apartment checklist
  • Sheet and comforter set
  • Pillows
  • Clothes hangers
  • Hamper that doubles as laundry basket
  • Bed frame

For the bathroom:

  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hand soap
  • Bath towels and washcloths
  • Toilet paper
  • Bath mat
  • Shower curtain and rings
  • Essential toiletries
  • Toilet brush and plunger

For the kitchen:

New apartment necessities
  • Silverware
  • A few pots and pans
  • Coffee mugs and glasses
  • Plates and bowls
  • Dish towels
  • Chef knife and a small paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Colander
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Ice cube trays
  • Can opener
  • Serving spoon and spatula
  • Paper towel holder
  • Coffee maker and filters
  • Tupperware
  • Toaster
  • Microwave


  • Trash bags and trash can
  • Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Dish and laundry soap
  • Multi-purpose cleaner
  • Multi-purpose cleaning brush
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sponges and Brillo pads
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit and essential OTC medications
First apartment checklist filled with essentials

Find these apartment must-haves at a thrift shop.

The best way to save money on your first apartment furnishings is to purchase as much as you can used. Here are some items that make the most sense to get as hand-me-downs or buy second hand. If you’re feeling really 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
  • Dresser
  • Accent chairs

Things you don’t need right away

It’s tempting to want to purchase every little 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 unused items. The following items can be acquired later, once you’ve lived in the space for a little while and saved up a few more paychecks.

  • Buffet or console tables
  • Artwork
  • Area rugs
  • Small kitchen appliances you know you won’t often use, like a blender or mixer.
  • Home decor items
  • Headboard
  • Bookshelves and other shelving
  • Knick-knacks like candles or houseplants
  • Wall hooks
  • End tables or nightstands
  • Lamps (unless apartment has no other lighting)
  • Tablecloths

Like we mentioned earlier, renting your first apartment is exhilarating, but it’s easy to get carried away with purchasing too much stuff right away. The biggest takeaway here it 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.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on January 31, 2018. 

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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