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First Apartment Checklist: Essentials for your New Apartment

June 29, 2022

Is it time to move out of your parents' home and into your first apartment? Want to make sure you have all of the essentials for your new place? It's easy to get lost in the chaos after signing your first apartment lease.

We put together this first apartment checklist with everything you need for your first apartment. From coffee tables to cleaning supplies, let's get started!

Ultimate First Apartment Checklist: How to Use

Although our list of apartment essentials is large, you don't need everything at once. Save money by buying items over time. Also, search for items at local garage sales, thrift shops, or websites like Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace.

Without further ado, here is our ultimate first apartment checklist to get your new apartment up and running.

First Apartment Checklist: Bedroom

The room where you spend most of your time is where you want to dedicate the most care. So, you'll need to pay special attention to your apartment bedroom!

Of all of the items on our checklist, having your mattress and bedding ready on day one is crucial. You can hold off on the bed frame at first, but the last thing you'll want to do is sleep on the floor after moving day.

If you're bringing a mattress with you on move-in day, great! If not, make sure to plan to purchase and ship ahead of time so it's ready for you when you get to the apartment. If the mattress will arrive before your move-in day, just let your landlord know and they should hold the package for you.

Moving day is stressful, so a comfortable bed on your first night will be necessary!

Mattress and Bedding

  • Mattress
  • Bed frame
  • Sheets
  • Bed pillows
  • Pillowcases
  • Bedspread/Comforter
  • Blankets

Bedroom Furniture

  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Nightstand
  • TV Stand

Other Bedroom Essentials

  • Fan
  • Space heater
  • Additional storage boxes/containers
  • Trash bin
  • Hangers
  • Shoe rack
  • Mirror
  • Curtains
  • Desk lamp
  • Window coverings

First Apartment Checklist: Living Room

A comfortable and functional living room brings an apartment together for lounging and entertaining. So whether you plan on binging Netflix or hosting dinner parties, you'll want to make sure you have a space that is warm and inviting in your first apartment.

If space is limited, look into a sleeper sofa or futon for seating options in your living room. It's a great way to create a makeshift guest bedroom for friends or family visiting your new apartment for the first time.

Lastly, bring it all to life by sprucing it up with greenery and decor. From side tables to wall art, the world is your oyster. But remember, you don't need it all at once! The new coffee table and dining room table look great, but you'll be just fine eating at the counter your first few nights. Start with the usual first apartment essentials for your living room before investing in the decorative pillows for your couch.

Living Room Furniture

  • Couch
  • Chairs/additional seating
  • Coffee table
  • End tables
  • TV stand

Living Space Decor and Comfort

  • Area rug
  • Throw pillows
  • Throw blankets
  • Coasters
  • Plants
  • Wall decor
  • Wall hooks
  • Extra lighting


  • Television
  • Streaming devices
  • Speakers

First Apartment Checklist: Bathroom

Focus on the essentials when putting together your bathroom. Things like a shower curtain, extra toilet paper, and cleaning supplies are easy to overlook. You don't want to find out the hard way after a long day of moving that you're not able to shower in your new bathroom!

The primary goal for your bathroom is to ensure it's functional before adding decor. But once you're ready to decorate, keep it simple by making sure all of your bathroom decor matches. Towels, bath mats, and shower curtains are easy to match to create your ideal first apartment bedroom. Later you can add small pieces to make it feel more like home.

When packing up your items, make sure you keep your toiletries in an easily accessible area. You'll want to be able to find and unpack these items right away, so consider marking an open-first box and placing them in there with other essential items.

Bathroom Necessities

  • Shower curtain and hooks
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap
  • Plunger
  • Shower mat / Bath mat
  • Toiletries
  • Small trash bin
  • Small trash bags
  • Hair towel/shower cap
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies

Additional Bathroom Essentials

  • Air fresheners (Socket plugin)
  • Candle
  • Febreeze
  • Potpourri
  • Weight Scale
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Extra storage

First Apartment Checklist: Kitchen & Dining

For your first apartment, buying everything for your kitchen might surprise you. You forget about many things until you get to a point where you need them. Start with the bare minimum essentials, like your kitchen utensils, pots, and pans. Then slowly add things like your kitchen gadgets, serving dishes, and wine glasses.

Each apartment is unique in terms of what type of kitchen and dining furnishing will come in it. For example, if you don't have a dishwasher, you'll need different items for hand washing dishes.

Before moving in, you should know what to expect. So, whether your apartment comes with a dining table or kitchen island, you'll need to know what to shop around for.

A formal dining set might not be an essential item right off the bat but will be something to consider later on down the line. Also, living off of paper plates and plastic utensils might work at first, but try your best to find full-time replacements. One chef's knife can only get you so far, so you'll want all your proper cooking utensils early. Not only will you save yourself some cash, but you'll also be saving the environment!

Although we don't consider it an apartment essential for moving day, it's a good idea to begin preparing for your first grocery list. We've prepared a separate first apartment grocery list for your first trip, covering everything from olive oil to filling your spice rack.


  • Pots and pans
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Knife set with chef's knife
  • Dish drying rack
  • Baking tray
  • Oven mitts
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Cutting boards
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cooking utensil set
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Wax paper

Dining and Utensils

  • Dining table and chairs
  • Large and small plates
  • Glasses
  • Paper plates
  • Placemats
  • Silverware set
  • Silverware organizer
  • Food storage containers

Kitchen Appliances

  • Colander
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine opener
  • Can opener
  • Blender
  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster/toaster oven
  • Crockpot

Kitchen Cleaning and Extras

  • Chip clips
  • Fruit basket
  • Dish soap
  • Dishtowels
  • Sponges
  • Dishwasher pods
  • Paper towels and holder
  • Ziploc bags
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags

First Apartment Checklist: Laundry & Supplies

Your laundry is another area that tends to get overlooked when moving into your new apartment. When you're busy moving, you're not thinking about doing laundry. More than likely, it's not going to come to mind until it's time for your first load.

Don't get stuck in a situation where you're not ready to do your laundry by ensuring you have some of the essentials ready to go. Round out the rest of your home with the items that'll take care of your belongings.

A laundry basket might seem like a novelty, but you'll quickly find out how messy your brand new apartment becomes without one. So instead of letting clothes pile up in the corner, grab a laundry basket along with your laundry supplies.

Make sure you have a few other laundry essentials on hand, too, including cleaning products, stain removers, and a steamer in case your new dryer ends up wrinkling all of your clothes.

Laundry Essentials

  • Laundry basket
  • Laundry detergent/pods
  • Fabric softener sheets
  • Iron/handheld steamer
  • Ironing board
  • Stain remover
  • Sewing kit
  • Cleaning products

Other Apartment Essentials

While we've covered most of the basics, there are some additional supplies you'll need to keep in mind for your first apartment checklist.

Even if your apartment comes thoroughly cleaned, you're going to want to have cleaning products readily available. Often, apartments sit vacantly and collect dust. Having some cleaner, brooms, and vacuums handy will help eliminate any dirt or grime that has accumulated over time.

Don't forget about your technology needs either. After ensuring you've got all your lamps and other electronics, you'll need to plug them in. If your new apartment doesn't come equipped with outlets all over, extension cords are going to be your best friends. Be sure to have your basic toolkit with Phillips and flat head screwdrivers.

Last but not least, always make sure you've got your safety essentials handy. Emergencies happen, and you don't want to be caught off guard. Always make sure to have a first aid kit handy.


  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Swiffer
  • Mop
  • Bucket


  • Extension cords
  • HDMI cable
  • Printer
  • Lap desk
  • Power strips/surge protectors
  • Basic home toolkit


  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Matches/lighter
  • Light bulbs

Final Thoughts

While this might seem overwhelming, many of these items you likely already have handy. If you don’t, buying brand new is not your only option. Check with friends and family for spares or shop around your local thrift store.

These are the things you need for a functional new home, but it’s just the beginning. Once you have the essentials figured out, it's time to really make your new apartment your own!

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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