Your First Apartment Checklist (All the Essentials You Need)


First apartment checklist to work on before moving day
Make sure you have everything you need to move into your first apartment.

Things You Need for Your First Apartment

Moving into your first apartment is incredibly exciting.

Finally having your own place is cause for celebration. There is a lot to think about before you can start the party. There’s even more to do.

If you’re moving into your first apartment, you might think you already have everything you need. I bet you don’t. There are probably things you are forgetting.

Read on to learn what you need for your first apartment on your move-in date and what can wait until after you settle in. You can also grab this free printable first apartment checklist PDF to use while you’re planning your move.

Before Moving In

There’s a lot to do before moving into your first apartment. Renting a moving truck or hiring professional movers, buying renters insurance, setting up utilities, and ensuring you have everything you need. With your first apartment checklist in hand, you’ll have all the essentials covered.

Your checklist should include all your must-have items. Some items you probably already have and others you’ll have to buy, but you don’t have to buy everything brand new. Keep costs down by shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, and Facebook Marketplace for used furniture and other items.

As you begin to list everything you have to buy or acquire, it’s important to stick to essentials. Start with the most important areas: your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.

Use this list as a guide. Certain items, like a toilet scrubber, are a must-have for everyone. Other things, like a coffee pot, are highly subjective, so not everyone would consider them apartment essentials.

The point is, you don’t have to get everything on the list. Bring or buy the basics plus what you already use.

Essentials for the Bedroom

Make your new apartment bedroom as comfortable from day one. Purchase a decent mattress, sheets, pillows, comforter, and cozy blankets.

  • Mattress and box spring
  • Bed frame
  • Pillows
  • Sheets and pillowcases
  • Comforter or quilt and blankets
  • Curtains or shades
  • Dresser
  • Nightstand
  • Mirror
  • Clothes hangers

You can buy your bed, nightstand, and dresser together in a set. If you don’t want to spend the money upfront for a bedroom set, you can mix and match or get what you can when you can.

Don’t wait or cut corners on the bed, though. Sleeping on the floor or an air mattress is not good. You won’t like sleeping in your new apartment, and it won’t feel like home if you can’t sleep comfortably.

Bathroom Essentials

Your bathroom might be the smallest room in your apartment, but you’ll spend a lot of time in it. You’ll also need a good amount of stuff for it.

  • Shower curtain
  • Shower curtain liner
  • Shower curtain hooks
  • Shower caddy
  • Bath mat to save your bathroom floor
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Towel hook
  • Plunger
  • Bathroom spray
  • First aid kit

When moving day winds down, you’ll probably want to take a shower. Pack your soap, shampoo, and other toiletries with the curtain, shower liner, and bath mat in your bathroom essential box

Essential Items for the Kitchen

Ensure your apartment kitchen has the basics even if you eat on the go or order takeout a lot.

  • Plates, bowls, and utensils
  • Glasses
  • Coffee maker or tea kettle
  • Coffee mugs
  • Paper Towel Holder
  • Dish towels
  • Dish drying rack
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knives (chef knife, paring knife, etc.)
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Cookie sheet
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wine glasses
  • Cooking utensils
  • Can opener
  • Food storage containers to keep food fresh
  • Extra dishes
  • Paper plates and plastic utensils
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Dining table or kitchen table and chairs
  • Fire extinguisher, if not provided

Make sure you have something to eat on hand the day you move in. After a long day of moving and unpacking, you’ll need food. Consider bringing some staples and enough groceries to whip up a quick meal.

Living Room Essentials

Your sofa is almost as important as your mattress. Sitting on the floor gets old fast for you and your guests. Besides, your sofa could double as your workspace, dining area, and guest bed.

  • Sofa or sleeper sofa
  • Coffee table
  • Comfy chairs
  • Television
  • Extra lighting
  • Extra seating
  • Area rug if you have hardwood floors
  • Throw blanket

Having a television is nice whether you’re paying for cable or cutting the cord in favor of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube TV. A TV is not strictly essential, but having friends over for movie night or watching a game in your new apartment is fun.

Household Essentials

Having a basic tool kit will come in handy when putting together furniture or hanging picture frames. If you want your security deposit back, you might want to go with Command hooks instead of nails or screws.

  • Tools (hammer, flat head screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver, duct tape)
  • Ironing board
  • Light bulbs
  • Extension cords
  • Surge protector
  • Laundry essentials (laundry soap, stain remover, fabric softener, dryer sheets)
  • Trash cans
  • Step stool
  • Wall hooks or Command hooks
  • Sewing kit
  • Scotch tape

Cleaning Supplies

You’ll need a vacuum cleaner and kitchen and bathroom cleaning supplies. If you can, clean a day or two before you move in. Cleaning and moving on the same day is exhausting.

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Mop and bucket or Swiffer
  • All-purpose cleaner or white vinegar and baking soda to make your own
  • Dish soap
  • Glass cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Air freshener

Things To Buy for Your First Apartment Later

After paying for rent and moving expenses, you might not have enough money left over or in your savings account to cover everything you need. There are some things you can put off buying, even if they’re on your apartment checklist.

Dining Room Table

You can eat meals on the sofa for a little while. Your friends will forgive you if you hold off on the dinner parties until you have a table for them to grace.


Hold off on buying things like entertainment centers, dressers, under-bed storage boxes, and expensive glass storage containers. If you can live out of boxes or make do without for a bit, you can buy stuff to put your stuff in later.

Desk and Office Chair

You can take your time buying a desk and chair unless you work from home. Your kitchen table should suffice. You can also type away on your laptop from your bed or sofa.

Side Tables

Side tables are nice to have but not altogether necessary. That puts them much lower on your priority list. They’re also good candidates for acquiring at thrift shops unless you have a living room set in mind.

Additional Seating or Extra Chairs

It’s nice to be able to offer your guests a seat, but that might not be possible right out of the gate. When a guest asks what they should bring, suggest a folding chair instead of dessert.

Throw Pillows, Accent Pillows, or Decorative Pillows

If you don’t consider throw pillows uncomfortable clutter and they’re on your list, they can wait. Maybe throw pillows will dramatically change the look of your living room or bedroom, but you don’t need them right away.

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