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The ultimate first apartment checklist

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    So, you've done it. You've secured your first apartment! Now, it's time to start planning and packing as you prepare to make the big move. But before you do, it might be helpful to make a list. Some things to put on that list are obvious: clothes, chargers bedding ... but that's not all. There are a few sneaky items that you may not think of (like a box cutter to open all those boxes). No need to worry, though. Below, we've started a first apartment checklist to help make move-in-day less hectic.

    What do I need for my first apartment?

    You may be asking yourself, “What do I need for my first apartment?” An easy way to answer this question is to break it down room by room. Think first of the essential pieces of furniture, such as a bed frame and a dresser for your clothes. Some apartments may come either semi- or fully furnished, so it's important to ask your landlord or building manager beforehand. This will give you a better sense of what you need and what you already have.

    Next, you'll need to consider the items you'll need for each room to function every day, such as pots, pans, utensils, plates and bowls in the kitchen. Keep in mind the layout of your new apartment, too. Do you have a closet in your bedroom? Is there storage in the bathroom? Will you have room for a full couch -- or just a loveseat?

    And of course, don't forget to make a budget so you can spend responsibly when purchasing items for your first apartment.

    Things you need for your first apartment

    Here are some of the basics, room by room:


    In the kitchen, you'll need to have cooking and dining essentials, such as:

    • Plates
    • Bowls
    • Glasses
    • Mugs
    • Utensils
    • Knives
    • Pots
    • Pans
    • Cutting boards

    You'll also need cleaning products like sponges, dish soap and dish towels. If you have a dishwasher, grab some dishwasher detergent as well. Depending on the space, you may also want to consider the furniture that you may need to buy. Maybe this means bar stools to sit at the counter, or maybe there's room for a kitchen table and chairs. You'll also want to check if your kitchen comes with a microwave and decide if you want other appliances like an air fryer.

    Additionally, don't forget things like aluminum foil and food storage containers for keeping leftovers in the fridge. You can go grocery shopping once you're all moved in, but it might still be a good idea to bring some bottled water and snacks with you for that first day (while keeping that local takeout app ready).


    In your new bedroom at your first apartment, you will of course need bedding items:

    • Bed frame
    • Mattress
    • Box spring, if using
    • Pillows
    • Sheets
    • Pillowcases
    • Blankets

    Your new room will also likely need a dresser, hangers for your closet, curtains or blinds, a hamper, a nightstand and a mirror. If you're able, check beforehand if there are curtain rods available or if you will have to buy your own.

    Living room

    Some other things you need for your first apartment are living room essentials, like:

    • Couch your loveseat
    • Coffee table
    • Lamps
    • TV
    • TV stand
    • Rug

    Be sure to check the size of your living room to make sure the furniture you want will fit. Consider furniture that can do double-duty as storage and décor. The living room tends to be a good place for furniture pieces like bookshelves, too.


    So, you might be wondering, what do I need to buy for my first apartment's bathroom? Here are some essentials:

    • Towels
    • Washcloths
    • Bathmat
    • Shower curtain
    • Shower liner
    • Curtain rings
    • Trash can
    • Plunger

    Check beforehand if there is a shower curtain rod available or if you will have to buy your own. And don't forget to pack your toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and floss.

    Other first apartment essentials not to miss

    In addition to your furniture and harder-to-miss items, there are many first apartment essentials that you might not think of, such as light bulbs, extension cords and power strips. It's also important to remember cleaning supplies and tools, such as:

    • Broom and mop
    • Toilet cleaner
    • Toilet brush
    • Laundry detergent
    • Sponges/microfiber cloths/rags
    • All-purpose cleaner
    • Glass cleaner
    • Paper towels
    • Toilet paper
    • Trash bags
    • Tissues
    • Hammer
    • Screwdrivers
    • Allen wrench
    • Screws/nails
    • A drill
    • Command hooks
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Batteries

    These tools will come in handy as you install curtain rods, put together furniture and hang shelves.

    Additionally, you may want to buy some décor to make your new place feel a little more like home. If you're moving into a studio apartment or somewhere with a balcony or patio, your apartment essentials might also include a room divider to create separate spaces, or outdoor furniture to enjoy the fresh air. Before moving in, draw up a list of local retailers for anything you overlook or need to buy in a pinch.

    Logistical considerations for your first apartment essentials

    Now that you have all your essentials for your first apartment, it's time to prepare them for the big move. The logistics of moving can be complicated, so make sure to plan everything out in advance. Figure out what kind of vehicle will fit all your items on moving day. If you decide to use a moving truck, book it at least a month in advance, if possible. If your friends and family can't help you move, look into hiring movers, especially for any heavier furniture items. Labeling your boxes and bins also makes organization easier for both you and your helpers when moving day arrives.

    What's more

    Moving into your first apartment is exciting, but it's important to have a first apartment checklist to keep yourself organized. Try to envision yourself functioning in each of your new spaces to help you figure out all the things you need, and don't forget the smaller items like toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags and soap. If you can fit it in your budget, grab some décor items to bring with you to liven up your space and make the most of your new home.

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