Categories Settling In | Posted on 04/19/202204/19/2022 | By: Laura MuellerTags: apartment, checklist, first apartment, home, housing needs, moving advice
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Moving into your first apartment is an incredibly exciting experience. There’s something almost surreal about sitting in your new bedroom or kitchen for the first time and realizing that you finally have a place of your own. Acquiring all the things you need for your first apartment is an expensive undertaking, so you need to go into it with a plan. Before you head to the store or the Amazon search box, come up with a budget of what you can spend right away in light of moving costs and other related expenses. Then stick to it. You don’t need to get everything right away, and some things you might be surprised to find you really don’t need at all. Spend wisely, and stick to immediate needs. Our apartment essentials: first apartment checklist below should help you get started.
Apartment Essentials: First Apartment Checklist
Unless you’re planning to get takeout every night (and that adds up, fast), you’re going to need to make use of your new kitchen. Unfortunately, you can’t do much in there without the basics. Add on as you can, but make sure you have these from the get-go.
- Pots and pans: One medium or large fry pan; one small pot; one large pot. It may be cheaper (or not much more expensive) to purchase a small cookware set.
- Oven-safe dish: One medium or large size casserole dish
- Baking sheet: One large or medium cookie sheet
- Dishes: Plates and bowls (two of each, made of a durable material like ceramic)
- Flatware: Forks, knives and spoons (two of each); optional steak knife
- Drinking glasses: Water glasses for four (can double as wine/beer glasses)
- Mug: Just one will suffice to start
- Coffee maker or French press: If you’re a regular coffee drinker, it’s a lot cheaper to make it in your kitchen than get it to go from the coffee shop every day. If you prefer tea, heat water in your small pot instead of getting a kettle right away.
- Knives: One serrated; one chef’s knife; one paring knife
- Cooking utensils: Spatula; large spoon
- Mixing bowl: One large bowl to start
- Kitchen shears to help open plastic packages
- Napkins (paper napkins are fine)
- Strainer for draining pasta or vegetables
- Ice cube tray
- Bottle opener and corkscrew
- Cutting board: One silicon, plastic or wood board
- Measuring cups and spoons: One set of each
- Food containers for leftovers
- Oven mitts: One set
- Dish towels: Four to six
- Dishrag: Two or three
- Dish drying rack, if there’s no dishwasher
- Garbage can
Keep in mind that none of these items have to be top quality. I stocked up for my first apartment at Goodwill, where I probably got a majority of those items above for under $40 total. Ikea is a great choice as well for kitchenware, and their knives are surprisingly high quality.
Things you can buy later: Toaster oven, microwave, food processor, blender, hand mixer, cake pans, serving dishes, slow cooker or Instant Pot. You might also consider purchasing a rug to place near the kitchen sink so you have something cushioned to stand on while washing dishes.
You might be surprised by how much more inclined you are to keep things spick-and-span when you’re finally living in your own space. You don’t need to go all out for an expensive vacuum off the bat, but you will want to make sure you’ve got the following.
- Garbage bags: Kitchen-size and small
- Broom and dustpan
- Sponges: Separate sets for dishes and cleaning
- Soft rags and microfiber cloths
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Paper towels
- Bucket for mopping or cleaning
- Mop, if you have hard-surface floors
- Handheld vacuum: Sufficient until you can get something bigger
- Bathroom cleaning spray
- Multi-purpose spray
- Wood cleaner, if you have wood surfaces
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwasher detergent, if you have a dishwasher
- Liquid dish soap
- Baking soda and white vinegar
- Rubber gloves
- Hand soap for kitchen and bathroom
Things you can buy later: Fancy vacuum, furniture polish, microfiber sweeper.(Video) Apartment Essentials/Must-Haves (on a BUDGET!)⎜The ULTIMATE Checklist
Sleep is important, so if you’re buying a new mattress for your apartment you may want to spend a little bit extra to get something you know will be comfortable for you. (You can find a quality bed-in-the-box mattress online for just a few hundred dollars.) If you can’t afford a decent mattress right now, it’s fine to go with a futon or air mattress to start. We’ve all been there. Here’s what else you’ll need.
- Sheets: One set to start is sufficient, as long as you can trust yourself to wash them regularly. If not, get two.
- Pillows: One or two to start
- Comforter or duvet and duvet cover
- Lamp: At least one; preferably two, one for either side of the bed
- Curtains, if your bedroom doesn’t have some sort of window coverings already
- Storage: Dresser, plastic organizers, or under-the-bed containers
- Inexpensive full-length mirror, if you don’t have a good one elsewhere
- Hangers for the closet
- Cedar balls or rings, if moths are an issue
- Laundry hamper
Things you can buy later: Throw pillows, rug, bed frame and bedside table.
In addition to your basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, etc.), you’ll also need a few things to keep your bathroom organized and functional.
- Bath towels: Two to start
- Hand/face towels: Two to start
- Shower curtain and liner, if necessary
- Wall hook, if not supplied
- Toothbrush holder or case: A simple plastic cup can get the job done – just wash it regularly
- Bathmat or rug
- Toilet brush
- Toilet paper
- Small trash can
Things you can buy later: Fancy soap dispenser, water cup, extra storage, shower speaker.
And now on to the big things. Furniture is an important apartment essential, of course, but most of these items you can put off buying until you have the money/find a great deal. Sure, nobody really wants to eat their dinner on the floor every night, but if you have to do that until you can buy a dining room table or coffee table, it’s not the end of the world. Eventually, though, you’re going to want these things for your new apartment.
- Coffee table (it doesn’t need to be big)
- Small dining room table and chairs
- Additional lighting: One or two lamps; floor lamp, if lighting is a major issue
- Desk and chair, if you are going to be working from home
Things you can buy later: Artwork, side tables, throw blankets, decorative pillows, plants, décor, curtains, area rugs, sound system, TV and stand (I’m not afraid to admit I watched all of “Game of Thrones” on an 8” iPad Mini while I saved up for a television).(Video) Your First Apartment Checklist: Essentials You Need to Buy
One of the most difficult things about being on your own for the first time is figuring out how to stock your pantry and fridge. A smartly stocked kitchen from day one, however, can help you save money in the long run for the bigger items that your apartment needs. Obviously, you’ll make plenty of future grocery trips for specific ingredients, but these are good basics to start with. Don’t feel like you need to buy everything off this list, but do use it to guide you on that first trip to the store.
- All-purpose flour
- Sugar, honey or sugar substitute
- Baking soda and baking powder, if you intend to bake anything
- Coffee and tea
- Cereal: One or two boxes should be sufficient, especially to start
- Quick-cooking oats
- Grains (quinoa, lentils, farro, etc.)
- Nut butter
- Ketchup and mustard (or preferred condiments)
- Cooking oil (vegetable and/or olive oil)
- Vinegar (white, red, apple cider, balsamic)
- Soy sauce
- Canned or dried beans
- Canned or packaged tuna or chicken
- Dried pasta
- Pasta sauce
- Snack food (chips, pretzels, nuts, etc.)
- Milk (cow, soy, almond, or whichever type you prefer)
- Eggs or egg substitute
- Cheese (cheddar or parmesan are standard for most recipes)
- Fresh fruit (save money by purchasing whole fruits, not pre-cut or packaged)
- Fresh vegetables (save money by purchasing whole vegetables, not pre-cut or packaged)
- Jam or preserves
- Frozen pizza or dinners
- Frozen patties (burgers, veggie burgers)
- Frozen fruit
- Frozen vegetables
Things you can buy later: Spices (purchase as you need them instead of buying an expensive set).
First aid and wellness essentials
Accidents happen, and you will eventually get sick. Be prepared by having the basics on hand to treat yourself. (Follow up with emergency care or your physician, if necessary). You can purchase a simple first aid kit and supplement it with over-the-counter products or start from scratch.
- Bandages: One package of assorted sizes
- Butterfly bandage: One package for keeping deep lacerations closed
- Small scissors
- Crepe bandage to reduce swelling
- Cold compress
- Cotton balls
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Neosporin for small wounds
- Aloe for minor burns, including sunburn
- Digital thermometer
Things you can buy later: Decongestant, allergy medication like Benadryl, cough medicine, cough drops, saline nasal spray, and hydrocortisone cream for skin irritations. You can purchase these on an as-needed basis, but you may want to stock the decongestant and allergy medication beforehand. No one wants to head to the store for medicine when they feel awful.
Other apartment essentials
The definition of essential is subjective, but you’ll want to pick up a few other items before moving into your first apartment.
- Fans: One for each room, if your apartment doesn’t have ceiling fans
- Flashlight: One in your bedroom and one in the main living space
- Screwdriver: Philips and straight blade for assembling furniture and other tasks
- Adjustable wrench
Things you can buy later: Printer and paper shredder to dispose of important documents.(Video) FIRST APARTMENT CHECKLIST | what first apartment essentials I still recommend 1 year later...
Where to find first apartment essentials
Target and Walmart are good options when shopping for the essentials for your first apartment. However, if you’re on a budget, they may not always be the cheapest option. We’ve compiled a few places you might what to check for good deals on what you’ll need to stock your apartment, including buying used furniture.
- Goodwill: You can get some really good deals on kitchen gadgets, furniture, lamps and dishes at Goodwill and other thrift shops, including the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Be prepared to visit multiple times to find good quality items.
- Dollar stores: These stores are a great place to find what you need to stock your kitchen and bathroom. Look for glasses, silverware, dishes, mixing bowls and food storage containers. You may also find some inexpensive food items, like ketchup or cereal.
- Facebook Marketplace: Check Facebook Marketplace and other online marketplaces for deals on furniture. You will probably need to make arrangements to get the item from the seller’s home to yours. Most private sellers do not deliver.
- Garage sales: You can find everything from new-in-the-box cookware sets to gently used couches and bean bag chairs for a fraction of what they initially cost. Don’t be surprised to find a full set of unwanted dishes for $10. However, driving from one sale to the next looking for what you need can be very time-consuming.
- IKEA: This megastore has everything, and most of the time, prices are low. But the layout requires you to navigate almost the entire store, tempting you to purchase more than you need. If you are on a budget and don’t have much willpower, IKEA may not be the best option.
- Amazon: If you already have a Prime membership that gives you free shipping, Amazon may be a good option. Not only will Amazon have everything you need but you can shop for it from the convenience of your own home.
In the beginning, after you move into your first apartment, there will probably be lots of trips back and forth to the store, and that’s totally fine. Start with the things you really need, and then add on and upgrade as you can. A lot of these essentials will stay with you for years, so you won’t have to go through this every time you move.
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- Is Moving In the Winter the Right Choice for You? Here’s What You Need to Know
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Author: Laura Mueller
Laura Mueller is a professional writer with nearly five years of experience writing about moving. She is particularly interested in topics around organization, home design, and real estate, and definitely has a few tricks up her sleeve after moving eight times in eight years during her 20s. Laura believes that moving should be as stress-free of an experience as possible, and is always working on new tips and shortcuts that she can share with readers on Moving.com.View all posts by Laura Mueller