Your How to Guide: First Apartment Essentials

Your How to Guide: First Apartment Essentials

Exterior of an apartment building

Moving into your first apartment is incredibly exciting. You now have your own space that you can customize to make it feel like home. However, when you sit down to think about all things you may need it can feel overwhelming.

Before buying everything you think you need, it is important to set a budget and stick to it. It might be useful to create a corresponding first apartment checklist to help you manage. That way you are only buying what is needed right away and can avoid splurging on something you will probably only use once. Spend wisely, my friends.

Let’s break it down…

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Cleaning Supplies

Before you get all settled into your space you will probably want to give it a good scrub. In order to do so cleaning supplies are needed, for the initial cleaning and for later sprucing. Here is a simple checklist for what you need to get started.

  • A good sponge
  • Dish towels
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Vacuum
  • Broom/dustpan
  • Mop
  • Bleach
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Detergents – dishes & clothes
  • Glass cleaner
  • Polishing Spray

Kitchen

Unless you have the budget and the stomach to eat out every night, you should start to make use of your kitchen. However, besides kitchen gadgets, you will also need staples in your pantry so you can make basic meals.
Here are ten essentials for both the pantry and kitchen space itself.

Kitchen Essentials

  • Pots and pans – various-sized frying pans and pots, possibly a colander
  • Oven-safe dish – medium to large casserole dish 
  • Baking sheets – medium to large cookie sheet 
  • Dishes – plates and bowls 
  • Silverware – forks, knives, spoons
  • Glasses – drinking glasses for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Mixing bowl – small and large 
  • Cutting board – one silicone, plastic, or wood board
  • Cooking utensils – spatula, tongs, slotted and solid spoons, can opener, knives
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Some things that others may find essential: coffee maker, toaster, microwave, blender, cake pans

Pantry Essentials

  • Baking Essentials – flour, sugar, baking soda, brown sugar
  • Oil & Vinegar
  • Canned Goods – various fruits/vegetables, pasta sauce, soup
  • Dry Goods – pasta, cereal, crackers, coffee, rice, tea
  • Spices – salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, season salt, chili powder
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Condiments – ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, ranch, hot sauce
  • Frozen – pizza, ice cream, meat

Bathroom

Regardless of all your toiletry essentials (toothpaste, toothbrush, skincare, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.), there are a couple of things you need for this space too.

Here are some bathroom essentials for both you and your space.

Bathroom Essentials

  • Shower curtain & liner
  • Bath Towels
  • Hand Towels
  • Bathmat or rug
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap
  • Plunger
  • Toilet Brush

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Medicine Cabinet Checklist

  • Bandages – various sizes
  • Ibuprofen
  • Antacids
  • Neosporin
  • Manicure set

Other possible essentials: allergy medication, anti-itch cream, day/night cold and flu medicine, aloe

Bedroom Essentials

This is one of the most important spaces in your new crib. You want to make this space calming and comfortable because you may potentially be spending a lot of time here. This area will probably be a work in progress because it holds big-ticket items that can make a dent in your savings.

Here is what you should get to start and what you may want to add later.

Right Away

  • Mattress
  • Pillows
  • Sheets & pillowcases
  • Comforter or duvet cover
  • Dresser
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket

Save for Later

  • Bed frame/board
  • Curtains
  • Full-length mirror
  • Bedside tables
  • Lamps

Furniture

More so for the main living space, there are a couple of pieces of furniture that you would typically find. However, these would not be an immediate necessity so to speak. These items can also rack up quite a high price amount if bought brand new.

Here are some other furniture essentials to add to your apartment checklist.

  • Sofa
  • Dining table & chairs
  • Rug
  • Wall decor
  • Side tables
  • Additional lighting

Other Essentials

Besides all of the items with their designated spaces in the apartment, there are some other essentials that may come in handy depending on the situation.

Here are a few first apartment essentials that you may not have thought to add to your checklist.

  • Tool kit – hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches
  • Flashlight
  • Fans
  • Emergency radio

Where to Look

While some of these items may be nice to buy brand new, it’s not always within the budget. Although there are great alternatives that can reduce overall costs, and create uniqueness in your new space. Here are some of my top recommendations on where to find items on your first apartment essential checklist.

Goodwill: This is a great option to snag items for your kitchen, main living space, or bedroom at a lower cost in comparison to mainstream retail. It may be a hit-or-miss scenario so I recommend going to various locations a number of times to make sure you can snag the best pieces before someone else.

Facebook Marketplace: Similar to Goodwill this resource can provide you with previously loved items. Some great finds can originate from here. Another tip is to find an item that you could possibly turn into a “DIY” or a fixer-up project so it fits your aesthetic.

Amazon: Who doesn’t love the easiness and quickness of Amazon today? Amazon can be a great cost-effective site used to find items for cheap in sets such as pots and pans, or cleaning bottles where you can make your own cleaner. It can also be a good place to find big ticket items such as a sofa or bed frame.

Ikea: It is no secret that Ikea has almost anything you could need, just be ready to put together whatever you buy! I would make sure to read reviews on items to make sure they are quality pieces that will last you.

My Can’t Live Withouts

Here are some of the items I use in my everyday life that I can’t live without. I will always recommend these items to family and friends or perhaps will gift them during the holiday season. Some have a high price tag, while some are environmentally friendly items that will save you money in the long run.


Some things to keep in mind are every person is different in what they consider to be essential, the size of the space, your specific budget, and what your style is. These factors will ultimately determine what you end up purchasing or getting for your first apartment.

Remember that any progress, regardless of the size, is progress and many of us are in the same place you are now. So get started on acquiring what you need for your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living area, and maybe even office!

Happy shopping!

Your all-inclusive super simple first apartment essentials checklist

UniMovers first apartment moving checklist

Hi! I am Mackenzie Jones! I am currently a junior in college majoring in biology, psychology, and neuroscience. In my free time I enjoy writing, trying new local restaurants/cafes, and spending as much time outside as possible.