First Apartment Checklist: Top 11 Apartment Essentials

Woman creating a first apartment checklist as she moves in

First Apartment Checklist: Top 11 Apartment Essentials

Leasing your first apartment and moving out is a milestone in your life. Now that you have signed the lease, the fun begins. When the time has come for you to start unpacking and organizing your first apartment, follow this first apartment checklist to ensure you are well-suited for apartment living. You can even partner with your new roommates to make sure these renters essentials are covered:

1. Tool Kit

Now that you are venturing out on your own, have a tool kit ready to tackle any small projects. Trying to handle some DIY projects and maintenance can also help you save money. In your toolkit, you need to have the following items:

  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers (Flathead and Phillips)
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Wall hooks

Trying to piece together furniture and hang your pictures can be difficult without the right tools. Having this tool kit handy can teach you a new set of skills and prevent you from having to pay others for these tasks. These items are an essential part of the first apartment checklist because they will come in handy for the remaining essentials.

2. Step Stool

One of the things on your first apartment checklist that is often overlooked is a step stool. You may not think you a step stool is essential until you already need it. Maybe you can’t reach the top shelves and cabinets in your kitchen. Some apartments also come with higher ceilings and high shelving, making it difficult to access this area without assistance. So have a step stool ready for any unexpected inconveniences. A step stool is easy to pull out and use, then store away at a later time. It will help you safely hang your pictures and store items on shelves for safe-keeping.

3. Cleaning Supplies

Having a good stock of cleaning essentials is one of the most important things in your first apartment checklist. Now that you will be responsible for cleaning your own place, you need the appropriate cleaning supplies to keep these areas fresh, clean, and free of mold. The list of essentials includes:

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Mop/Broom/Vacuum for complete floor care
  • Extendable duster
  • Toilet brush
  • Dish soap and sponges
  • Laundry detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Dishtowels
  • Dustpan
  • ​Plunger
  • Standard disinfectant
  • Toilet brush
  • Trash can and trash bags
  • Vacuum cleaner

Everything from your clothes and furniture to your counters and floors needs to be cleaned regularly in your apartment. Having the right equipment available to clean these areas in your apartment while moving in (and regularly afterward) is essential. As you unpack and begin to set up your apartment, you will find all of these items to come in handy right away.

4. A First-Aid Kit

You never know when you are going to need to bandage a minor cut or injury at home. It can be challenging to treat a small cut or burn without a first aid kit. You’re also more likely to accidentally injure yourself as you’re unpacking and assembling furniture, so it’s an essential item on your first apartment checklist. In your first aid kit, you should have the following items:

  • Bandages
  • Topical ointment
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Medical tape
  • Cold/Allergy medication
  • Cough drops
  • Gauze

Unfortunately, minor accidents are bound to happen while living in your apartment, just as they did at your childhood home. Make sure to have a variety of sizes in bandages. Also, buy the ointment and alcohol needed to clean them. When you have everything ready, it’s much easier to treat injuries and get on with your day.

5. Extra Bedding and Blankets

Woman organizing extra blankets in her apartment's linen closet

While you may be bringing over your current bed, duvet, and pillows, it is good to have extra linens for your bedding as a part of your first apartment checklist. A new apartment is a good reason to purchase new sheets and that bedding set that you have been eyeballing at your favorite store. Having that extra bedding for a quick bedding change will come in handy if you’re ever sick or run into delays with laundry — you’re always prepared with fresh sheets. It’s also useful to have additional blankets and pillows set aside in case of a guest.

Pro Tip:

Also purchase a pair of extra bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths for when you have guests or your towels are in the laundry.

6. Kitchen Appliances and Essentials

Kitchen appliances are an expensive part of your first apartment checklist, but your new home may have nothing but an oven and a refrigerator. Even if you have a small kitchen in your new apartment without a lot of countertop space, it is a good idea to have a few appliances around to do the cooking and prepare these meals easier. Things like a toaster oven, small coffeemaker, and microwave are essential. Even when you do not feel like cooking, you can toast a piece of bread or throw a microwave dinner in after a long day.

Some other kitchen essentials you should look for are:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Colander
  • Cookie sheet
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cutting board
  • ​Dish drying rack
  • ​Dishes
  • Oven mitts
  • Paper towel holder
  • Plastic wrap
  • Silverware
  • Tupperware

7. Lighting And Lamps

You do not want your first apartment to feel like a dungeon, which is why additional lighting is on the first apartment checklist. Many apartments have minimal lighting in each room. But a few extra lamps around the living area and bedroom can transform your apartment’s entire atmosphere. Proper lighting allows you to have that sense of home and familiarity, which is good for your emotional health when you strike out on your own. Make sure to get extra light bulbs and an extension cord while you’re at the store!

8. Storage Options

When you pick up new items on your first apartment checklist, grabbing a few storage containers, bookshelves, and clothes hangers to tuck some of your stuff away is essential.

Not all apartments come with enough storage for extra linens, dishes, or books that you may need when you move into your first apartment. A sturdy laundry basket can also help you keep your room and laundry organized.

9. Curtains

You will need to purchase curtains right away for your windows as a part of your first apartment checklist, both for privacy and for lighting control. Even if you’re on an upper floor, people may be able to see inside your home.

If you have different colors in each room or plan to decorate your apartment in a theme, then you can get curtains in colors and patterns to fit your personal preference. Curtains can be light or heavy, depending on where you are moving and how much sun comes into your apartment. People in cooler climates often embrace the sun and opt for lighter curtains. These will brighten up their apartment and invite the light in. For warmer climates, darkening curtains are a great option. They can keep the sun out of the apartment and keep the apartment cool.

Pro Tip:

Take a count of how many windows you have and their sizes before you purchase your curtains.

10. Essential Furniture

When you are making a list of the furniture you need, these items should certainly be on your first apartment checklist:

  • Couch/Sofa
  • Chair
  • A small table or coffee table
  • Bed frame and mattress
  • End tables
  • TV stand/Entertainment center

Having a comfortable couch and chair for your living room is essential for you and any guests you may have. Also, make sure to have a small kitchen table for the corner of your kitchen, or choose bar stools if your apartment has a bar. You want to have enough furniture to enjoy your meals without cluttering up the area.

End tables and TV stands are great sources for additional storage. Choose options that match your couch and chair. Also look for options that provide creative ways to store the things you need in the living area. You do not want to go on an adventure for the TV remote or your laptop charger.

Depending on your budget, you might be planning to purchase a new bed and mattress for your apartment. If so, then make sure you get all the box spring components to go with the mattress and the frame. You might put the mattress on the floor the first night. But you do not want to make that a habit for the long-term. If you are keeping your current bed, then this mattress moving guide will help keep it in good, clean condition.

11. Bathroom Essentials

While you won’t need a lot of furniture or appliances for your bathroom, you’ll need to purchase a lot of small toiletries and supplies. Some key items to get on your first shopping trip include:

  • A shower curtain
  • Bath mat
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap

While there is much more to purchase for your apartment, this first apartment checklist is the foundation of what you need when you’re moving out for the first time. Now you can start organizing your dream bedroom and making your new home your own. Be prepared for the next chapter in your life as you check off each of these items on your next shopping trip.

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