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First Apartment Checklist: Essentials for Your New Apartment

Moving to your first apartment? Use our first apartment checklist to make sure you have all of the essentials so you can settle comfortably in your new place.

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? If you've never shopped for an apartment before, it's easy to get lost in the chaos. It's also a challenge to figure out your "must haves" versus what you simply think you need.

We put together this first apartment checklist with everything a person would need for their first apartment. You can customize it based on what you already have so that you can figure out what you still have to shop for. From coffee tables to cleaning supplies, let's get started!

First Apartment Checklist Essentials for Your New Apartment

Your Complete First Apartment Checklist

1. How to Use Your First Apartment Checklist

This checklist is broken down by areas of your apartment, and then further by categories of large items. We encourage you to copy and paste this list into your own document so you can use it.

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 Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace.

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

2. Bedroom Checklist

The room where you relax and unwind is where you want to dedicate the most care. So, you'll need to pay special attention to your apartment bedroom! Plus, 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 may want to do after moving is sleep on the floor.

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

  • Mattress
  • Bed frame
  • Sheets
  • Bed pillows
  • Pillowcases
  • Bedspread/Comforter
  • Blankets
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Nightstand
  • TV Stand
  • Fan
  • Space heater
  • Additional storage boxes/containers
  • Trash bin
  • Hangers
  • Shoe rack
  • Mirror
  • Curtains
  • Desk lamp
  • Window coverings

3. Living Room Checklist

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.

  • Couch or Sofa
  • Chairs/additional seating
  • Coffee table
  • End tables
  • TV stand
  • Area rug
  • Throw pillows
  • Throw blankets
  • Coasters
  • Plants
  • Wall decor
  • Wall hooks
  • Extra lighting
  • Television
  • Streaming devices
  • Speakers

Soap dispenser and spa towel on pastel bathroom window interiorSoap dispenser and spa towel on pastel bathroom window interior

4. Bathroom Checklist

The bathroom can be a tricky space between it has so many essential elements. 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.

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

Stylish kitchen interior with dining table and chairs

5. Kitchen & Dining Checklist

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.

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
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • Dining table and chairs
  • Large and small plates
  • Drinking Glasses
  • Wine Glasses and/or Tumblers
  • Paper plates
  • Placemats
  • Silverware set
  • Silverware organizer
  • Food storage containers
  • Colander
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine opener
  • Can opener
  • Blender
  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster/toaster oven
  • Crockpot
  • Air fryer
  • Waffle iron
  • Dish soap
  • Dishtowels
  • Sponges
  • Dishwasher pods
  • Paper towels and holder
  • Ziploc bags
  • Plastic or other food wrap
  • Parchment paper
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags

Modern washing machine and shelving unit in laundry room interiorModern washing machine and shelving unit in laundry room interior

6. Laundry & Supplies

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 basket
  • Laundry detergent/pods
  • Fabric softener sheets
  • Iron/handheld steamer
  • Ironing board
  • Stain remover
  • Sewing kit
  • Bleach or whitener

Cropped image of beautiful young woman using a spray and a brush while cleaning carpet in the house

7. 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.


  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Window cleaner
  • Large scrub brushes
  • Mop
  • Bucket


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


  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Collapsable Ladder (for 2nd floor apartments)
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Matches/lighter
  • Light bulbs

Tips for Your First Apartment Checklist

Want to make sure your first shopping trip is a success? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Make Our List Your Own

You don't need to buy everything on our list. The idea is to use it as a starting point to identify what is essential to you. Go through our list, and cross out any items that you know you don't need. Exercising your discernment here will also help you make better decisions while shopping, too.

Learn How to Budget for Apartment Life

Budgeting for your first apartment is a matter of understanding your needs versus wants. That's why it helps to use a checklist like this one to take a holistic view of your new space. Our guide uses the 50-30-20 rule of budgeting to figure out what you can reasonably spend on rent, necessities, and fun. Check it out to learn more.

Learn How to Furnish an Apartment

Knowing what to buy is going to be dependent on knowing how to furnish your apartment. But furnishing your first apartment can be a bit overwhelming. That's why we dedicated an entire section of our blog just to furnishing an apartment. In general, there are some good rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Measure your apartment before you buy large furniture items, and learn how to conceptualize square footage.
  • Address storage early on, especially if your space is small.
  • Decide on a theme. For example, if you like minimalism, pick that direction before you start shopping, and make sure you stick to pieces that will help you conceal your items.
  • If you have a hard time picturing how things will look, try renting furniture instead of buying it.

Take It Slow

You're probably excited to pick out all your new items, but give yourself some time to shop for deals. You never know what you'll be able to find if you let yourself have a chance to look around. Plus, if you can find savings, you can start picking up items that aren't in your "must haves" list.

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.

Make Your Move: Start Apartment Hunting

Haven't found the apartment of your dreams yet? Take our quiz so that you can search around your ideal location for fantastic amenities within your budget. Flex your location, budget, or amenities to see even more choices! Our tools are perfect for first-time apartment hunters who need finding the best options.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Justin Chaplin
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 Kho
Emily is a professionally trained writer who covers a wide range of topics associated with the rental market and real estate industry. With over a decade of professional writing experience, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a Bachelor of Science from the world-renowned William F. Read More

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