First Apartment Checklist: Things you need for your first apartment

So, you’re moving into your first apartment and can’t wait to start your new life of independence and freedom. Even the challenges and responsibilities that come with living on your own seem somewhat exciting and thrilling at the moment – a chance to prove your maturity and ability to cope with anything life throws at you.

Unless you’re well prepared though, your enthusiasm may be quelled as soon as you attempt to complete your first household task – when you decide to take a shower and find out that there’s no towel rack in the bathroom or start preparing a meal only to realize that you don’t have a ladle, or a grater, or even a can-opener, for example.

To avoid such trivial disappointments and get your new life off to a flying start, you need to have at least the basic necessities for your first apartment. Take a look at the first apartment essentials checklist below to find out what you can’t do without in your new place and make sure you have these items from the very beginning.

What do you need for your first apartment?

There is no doubt that when moving into your fist apartment, you will want to make the place functional, comfortable, and beautiful. To do so, you’re going to need:

Kitchen essentials

  • Table and chairs
  • Fridge
  • Kitchen stove
  • Microwave
  • Dishwasher
  • Dishwashing products
  • Trash can
  • Cooking utensils
  • Pots and pans
  • Plates and bowls
  • Glasses and cups
  • Silverware
  • Dish towels and paper towels
  • Oven mitts
  • Small kitchen appliances, such as a coffee maker, a toaster, a blender, etc.

Bedroom essentials

  • Bed and mattress
  • Dresser
  • Bedside tables or nightstands
  • Curtains and rugs
  • Full-length mirror
  • Night lamps
  • Bedding – bed covers, bed linen, pillows, blankets, comforters, etc.

Living room essentials

  • Couch
  • Coffee table
  • TV cabinet
  • Bookshelves
  • Desk and desk chair
  • Floor lamps
  • Curtains
  • Rug
  • Wall décor
  • Paper bin
  • Electronics – a TV, a computer, a printer, a stereo, a game console, etc.

Bathroom essentials

  • Towel racks
  • Shower curtains
  • Plastic wash basins and buckets
  • Toiletries
  • Towels
  • Bath mats
  • Bathroom mirror
  • Medications and first aid supplies
  • Wastebasket
  • Toilet brush and toilet plunger
  • Soap dishes, soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, shower caddies, canisters, etc.

Laundry room essentials

  • Washing machine
  • Laundry baskets
  • Drying racks
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Laundry detergent, bleach, stain removers, fabric softener, etc.
  • Cleaning equipment and cleaning supplies

The essential items in the above first apartment checklist will all be necessary to turn your new place into a fully functional home, yet you don’t have to (and won’t be able to) get them all at once. Furnishing your first apartment is an expensive and exciting undertaking that should not be done in a rush.

Related useful information: What to know when moving out for the first time

What to buy for your first apartment?

Whether you have adopted a minimalist approach to life or like being surrounded by all kinds of odds and ends, there are some items you simply can’t manage without – first apartment must haves that will allow you to lead a comfortable and enjoyable life. There are also many things that are not essential to your everyday life, but are needed to bring coziness and warmth to the place and make it feel like home.

Acquiring everything you need to turn your new apartment into your sweet home, however, will cost a lot and you probably won’t be able to afford buying it all in one fell swoop. So, you need to come up with a plan – assess your finances, set up a budget, prioritize your first apartment shopping list, and focus on getting the most essential items. Once you have the basic necessities, take your time buying the rest of the furnishings – start putting money back with every paycheck, look for sales and discounts, and only purchase items that you really need and like.

Things to buy straight away

Here is a list of the most important things you need for your first apartment:

1) Basic first apartment furniture

  • Bed and mattress – you can sleep on an air mattress for a while, of course, but a comfortable bed is essential for your good night’s rest and fresh start in the morning;
  • Table and chairs – you can eat your dinner on the floor or use a large moving box as a table for a couple of days, but you won’t really enjoy your meal without being able to sit at a table. Besides, a table can also serve as a desk and a food preparation area, so it is really convenient to have one right from the start;
  • Dresser – if your new apartment has a closet with some shelving, it will do. If not, you need to get a dresser or a wardrobe right away, as you need a place to store your clothes, organize them so that you can easily find what you need, protect them from dust and dirt, and keep them free of wrinkles;
  • Couch – not exactly a necessity, but absolutely crucial for your comfort (and all your friends and family members who may need to spend the night at your place).

2) Basic kitchenware

  • Major appliances – there is no way you can survive without a fridge and a cooker. And the sooner you can get a microwave, a dishwasher, and a coffee maker, the better;
  • Essential cookware – home-made meals are both cheaper and healthier than any other food options you will have, so make sure you have some pots and pans at hand;
  • Kitchen utensils – you can’t prepare a meal without some basic cooking utensils (a set of knives, a cutting board, a ladle, measuring cups and spoons, can and bottle openers, etc.) and you can’t eat one without eating utensils;
  • Plates and glasses – these are not very expensive and will make a big difference (you’ll never feel at home while eating from paper plates and drinking from stadium cups), so just get some on day one in your new apartment;
  • Dish soap and dish towels;
  • Food and essential pantry items (salt, pepper, sugar, flour, cooking oil, vinegar, coffee, tea, rice, cereals, pasta, etc.)

3) Cleaning supplies

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Feather duster
  • Toilet brush
  • Garbage bags
  • Sponges and rags
  • Paper towels and wet wipes
  • Buckets
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Laundry detergent

4) Bathroom necessities – toiletries (toilet paper, hand soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, bathing products, etc.), towels, essential medications, a shower curtain, and any personal care items you use on a daily basis.

5) Window treatments – you need curtains or draperies to ensure your privacy and make the whole place look a bit more “finished”.

6) Bedding – some pillows, blankets, sheets, and pillowcases, at the very least.

7) Lighting – crystal chandeliers and romantic lanterns can wait a bit, but you will definitely need a couple of night lamps and floor lamps (as well as light bulbs and a flashlight) right from the start.

8) Essential electrical and electronic devices – a space heater, a hair-drier, a TV, a computer, extension cords, etc., depending on the your personal needs and preferences and the specific circumstances in your case.

9) Basic hand tools, a sewing kit, an iron, and some other important miscellaneous items (wall hooks, hangers, storage containers, wastebaskets, etc.)

Things to buy later

The above first time apartment checklist contains only the bare necessities you need to make your new place livable. There are many more things to buy for your first apartment in order to turn it into an actual home:

  • Comfort furniture – bookshelves, nightstands, side tables, coffee table, lounge seating, desk and desk chair, trunks and chests, etc.;
  • Full kitchenware – microwave, dishwasher, small kitchen appliances (coffee maker, toaster, blender, mixer, etc.), tea kettle, food storage containers, silverware organizer, all kinds of kitchen utensils (cake pans, serving dishes, whisk, spatula, wooden spoon, tongs, grater, strainer, mortar and pestle, rolling pin, pepper grinder, coffee grinder, vegetable peelers, ice trays, ice tongs, cooking sheets, aluminum foil, etc.), oven mitts, place mats, and any other kitchen items you might need;
  • Auxiliary bathroom items – towel racks, bath mats, canisters, soap dishes, soap dispensers, toothbrush holders, shower caddies, hampers, etc.
  • Specialized cleaning products and cleaning supplies – glass cleaners, wood cleaners, grease removers, stain removers, fabric softeners, mops, lint rollers, etc.;
  • Area rugs, throw blankets, decorative cushions, and other furnishings that will bring comfort and character to the place;
  • Artwork and decorations to make your apartment beautiful and express your own personality and aesthetic taste;
  • Extra lighting – chandeliers, wall scones, desk lamps, lanterns, lava lamps, candles, etc. that will add visual interest and coziness to your new home.

The list goes on and on – no first apartment moving checklist can detail all the little things that make a residence a home. Only you know what you need in order to feel comfortable, happy, and really at home – so make sure you get these items as soon as you can. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still acquire most of them quite easily.

See also: How to save money after moving out

Where to find cheap stuff for your first apartment?

So, where to buy cheap furniture for first apartment? Where to get all the bigger and smaller things you need at a bargain price?

Ask family and friends first – they may have things they no longer need and can give you for free. Then, check the “local market” – there will be many people in your new area selling things they don’t want any more and you may find some real treasures among these things:

  • Dig through the local ads (at local papers or local sites);
  • Hit up the local flea markets, thrift shops, and/or second-hand stores;
  • Go to neighborhood garage sales and yard sales.

If you don’t find what you need that way, you can:

  • Check online sales and auctions;
  • Look for clearance sales and discounts;
  • Use gift cards and coupons;
  • Buy items in sets and bulks.

Good to remember: Whether you’re buying online or in person, make sure you always inspect the item closely and thoroughly! You need quality things for a quality life in your first apartment. Good luck!

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