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First Apartment Checklist: Everything You Need for Move-In Day

woman moving into apartment
Antonio Guillem/ Shutterstock

Deciding what to bring to your first apartment can be overwhelming — get yourself organized by creating an apartment checklist. Don’t want to forget the essentials — like toilet paper and cleaning supplies? Add it to the list. Are you bringing along a furry friend? Make sure to include your pet’s needs as part of your apartment essentials.

Use this guide to create a comprehensive apartment checklist and make Moving Day a breeze!

Your complete first apartment checklist

When planning to move into your first apartment, there’s a good chance you will have many needs but limited resources. Buying all of the essentials for your apartment will be expensive, so keep your budget in mind when crafting your checklist.

New apartment essentials you won’t want to skimp on:

While you will need many items when you move into your new space, there are specific apartment essentials that you simply cannot do without. As you budget and plan your time, make sure you prioritize the following necessary items.

  1. Garbage bags
  2. Trash cans
  3. Hand soap
  4. Cleaning supplies (like dish soap, disinfectant spray/wipes, dust spray, window cleaner, etc.)
  5. Extension cords
  6. Surge protectors
  7. Light bulbs
  8. Document folders
  9. Flashlight
  10. Batteries
  11. Curtains
  12. Broom and dustpan
  13. Office supplies
  14. Iron and ironing board
  15. Mop
  16. Step stool
  17. First aid kit
  18. Sewing kit
  19. Small fire extinguisher
  20. Laundry basket
  21. Dishtowels
  22. Buckets
  23. Matches or lighters
  24. A small toolset
  25. Vacuum cleaner

Your room-by-room must-haves

To ensure that your apartment checklist includes all the must-have items, you may want to consider the essentials on a room-by-room basis. Here is what you will need for the different rooms in your apartment.


With the important role that the kitchen plays in any home, you should start your apartment checklist should start with the kitchen in mind.

  1. Fridge: If the apartment you’re moving into doesn’t come with a refrigerator, you may want to buy a reliable fridge that will help you avoid wasting food and save you some money in the process. This will cost you about $400.
  2. Electric or gas cooker/microwave oven: With your limited budget, eating out can be a bit expensive. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can buy either a microwave oven or an electric or gas cooker. You can get a countertop microwave oven for $65.
  3. Pots and pans: You will need pots and pans to prepare healthy food at home and ensure you save money by avoiding eating out. A good cookware set will cost you about $60.
  4. Dinnerware set: A complete dinnerware set will be necessary for serving food, especially when you host guests. You can set aside about $40 for an 18-piece dinnerware set.
  5. Basic utensils: At a bare minimum, you should have a spoon, a knife, and a fork in your apartment. A basic cutlery set that costs about $10 will come in handy during meal times.
  6. Dish towels: You’ll need dish towels for washing and drying your dishes. You can expect to pay around $25 for high-quality dish towels.
  7. Cleaning supplies: You must also have basic cleaning supplies to help keep your kitchen tidy at all times. A kitchen cleaning brush set retails for $13.
  8. Kitchen furniture: Choosing the right kitchen furniture will help to make the space more functional. For $140, you can get kitchen dining chair barstools.

Living room

You will be spending a considerable amount of time in your living room. As such, you should buy the required essentials to make this room comfortable and functional.

  1. Couch: The couch is arguably one of the most important elements of a living room. Be sure to get a comfortable sofa — preferably one that someone could crash on. Other sitting alternatives are cushions and beanbags. A quality sofa can range from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000 — so budget accordingly.
  2. Coffee table: Before investing in a dining room table and chairs, a coffee table can be used for beverages and meals. A good coffee table will cost about $87.
  3. Lighting: Extra lighting for your living room can help you create a cozy and welcoming ambiance. An LED standing light fixture costs about $40.
  4. Curtains: Quality curtains will afford you privacy and keep direct sunlight from entering the room. Window curtains sell for around $32.
  5. TV: Depending on your watching habits, you may or may not deem this an “essential item.” But if it is, make sure to budget for your TV (and corresponding cable or streaming services). If you’re budget-conscious, don’t worry. You can find a quality TV for under $200!


Your bedroom is where you relax after a day-long hard work. The room must have the right essentials to make you feel comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Mattress: A comfortable mattress is arguably the most important part of your new apartment. You need somewhere to lay down your head after a long day of work or exploring your new city! You can buy a quality mattress online but plan to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well into the thousands.
  2. Bed frame: You will need not only a comfortable bed but also a good quality frame. For about $90, you will get a metal bed frame for your new apartment.
  3. Bedding: Invest in a few sets of sheets, so you have back-ups on laundry day. Also, get a comfortable and stylish comforter! These items can cost about $30 and $70, respectively (depending on size).
  4. Closet organizers: Just as the name suggests, closet organizers will help you keep your bedroom neatly arranged. Closet organizers will not only save you time and money but also help you create more storage space. A basic closet organizer will cost about $50.
  5. Under-bed storage containers: You will also need under-bed storage containers to minimize clutter in the room. A good storage container will go for around $40.
  6. Nightstand: A nightstand provides a surface on which you can place the various items you will need during the night. You can expect to pay around $40 for a nightstand.
  7. Hangers: Clothes hangers will ensure you make the most of your closet space and keep your bedroom organized. These essentials will cost you just $22 for a set.
  8. Dresser: Having a dresser in your bedroom will provide you with increased storage space, helping to keep your personal effects within reach. You can find a quality dresser for about $70.


An apartment essentials checklist cannot be complete without the items you need to have in your bathroom. Below is a list of what you should buy for bathroom use.

  1. Shower curtain: A shower curtain is a must — unless you’re fine with turning your bathroom floor into a kiddie-pool. When buying a shower curtain, you should also remember the rings. This bathroom essential will cost you $20.
  2. Towels: Make sure to have a few sets of towels that can get you from one laundry day to the next. You can find a set on Amazon for $20.
  3. Bath mat: Don’t slip and slide all over your flower when you step out of the shower. Invest in a safe (and stylish) bath mat! You can find one online for $17.
  4. Plunger: This will come in handy when you need to clear blockages in pipes and drains. A plunger will set you back $10.
  5. Toiletries: Toothbrushes, bath gel, shaving kits, and combs, among other toiletries, are important for personal care. A toiletry kit will sell for around $28.
  6. Trash can: A small bathroom trash can retails at $20.
  7. Cleaning supplies: Bathroom cleaning supplies are used to keep your space clean. These include disinfectants, cleaning brushes, disposable wipes, and toilet brush.

If there is room in your budget, consider splurging on:

Here are some items that aren’t “need-to-haves,” but are probably “nice-to-haves.” If you have budgeted for all the items in your apartment checklist and you still have some money left, consider splurging on:

  1. Decorations: You want your space to reflect your personality. Whether it’s art on the walls or fun pillows, personalize your space with items that show off your personal taste.
  2. Area rug: Add some warmth and comfort to your space with a rug, or two!
  3. Throw blankets: Keep you and your guests warm with comfy plush throw blankets.
  4. Greenery: Bring the outdoors to you with plants — real or fake! Put a small succulent garden on your countertop or start a small herb garden on your patio.
  5. Fan: Depending on your space, you may or may not have a ceiling fan. Whether you need something to cool you off at night or you want to generate some white noise while you sleep, consider splurging on a small box fan.

The bottom line

Moving into a new apartment can be a taxing experience, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. The good news is that proper preparations (and a comprehensive first apartment checklist) can help make the entire process more manageable!

Feel free to download our free and printable First Apartment Checklist

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