First Apartment Essentials Checklist | Only Buy What You Need

Moving into your first apartment is exciting. You start thinking about how you’re going to decorate your living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. But then you think, What do I need for my first apartment? Where can I find a good first apartment essentials checklist?

Honestly, you’ll need a lot of things when you move into your first apartment so getting organized and finding a great first apartment essentials checklist is key.

The good news is, a lot of the essentials items that cost the most, you only need to buy once. So before you go buying things you think you need. Keep reading and save yourself money and time.

I moved into my first apartment about a year ago and a few of the things I bought, I never used. I don’t want you to waste your money. As I said, you will need to buy a lot so focus on the essentials first. The rest will most likely be decorative and splurges.

The following is a list of the first apartment essentials you will actually need.

First Apartment Essentials – kitchen

Whether you cook every day or cook just a few times a week. Whether you love to cook or hate to cook. There are a few basics everyone needs.

I’ve divided the list into three categories. Cooking, cleaning & organizing, and eating. I recommend buying most of these items online at a store like Target or Walmart where they have all these essentials.

You don’t want to be running around in the store, online is so much more convenient!


  • coffee maker
  • water kettle
  • 1 chefs knife & 1 serrated knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 frying pan with lid
  • 1 2qt saucepan
  • blender
  • 12″x17″ cookie sheet
  • 1 solid spoon
  • 1 spatula
  • 2-3 mixing bowls
  • strainer
  • can opener
  • oven mitts
  • wine opener

Cleaning & Organizing:

  • food storage containers
  • sandwich bags
  • aluminum paper
  • plastic wrap
  • utensil tray
  • dish soap
  • sponges
  • 2 hand towels
  • paper towels
  • garbage can
  • garbage bags


  • 4 bowls and 4 plates
  • 4 mugs and 4 cups
  • utensils
  • dining set (table and chair)

For items like; knives, pans, and utensils. Do your research and look at reviews. These are items that you will use every day so you don’t want to buy something cheap and then have to replace it in six months or a year.

Also, you don’t have to buy sets if it’s just you. You don’t need 10 knives, 15 pots and pans, and the nicest dining set.

If you can’t afford a new dining set, check Craigslist, OfferUp, or a thrift store.

First Apartment Essentials – bathroom

Bathroom essentials are probably the least exciting to buy but they are necessary!

  1. 10 rolls of toilet paper
  2. 2 hand soaps
  3. 2 hand towels
  4. 2 bath towels
  5. 1 bathroom mat
  6. shower curtain and hooks (if necessary)
  7. garbage can
  8. small garbage bags

As I mentioned in the kitchen section. Save your money and don’t buy sets. You don’t have to buy a bathroom set with a soap pump, toothbrush holder, cup, etc.

Trust me, you’ll need to spend a lot of money so prioritize what’s necessary first!

First Apartment Essentials – laundry

Oh, the laundry. We all need to do laundry so let’s make you are ready to go! Your laundry list is one of the shortest so it will be quick and simple.

  1. laundry detergent
  2. iron and ironing board
  3. liquid fabric softener
  4. dryer sheets or balls

I don’t use my iron and ironing board very often so if you’re someone that doesn’t see yourself ironing very often. Skip it and save the money for something else!

When it comes to liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets, this is is completely up to you. I actually only use fabric softener for my sheets.

One last tip, when you buy your laundry products. Don’t just buy one of each. I think it’s a good idea you buy enough to last you 6 months.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to have to go to the store constantly to buy these items I know I will need again.

First Apartment Essentials – bedroom

You probably already have a bed frame and mattress so you may not need to buy one but if you do, don’t forget it!

  1. bed frame and mattress
  2. bedding
  3. duvet
  4. pillows
  5. dresser/bedside table

In my room, I have a really big closet with two drawers so I haven’t boughten a dresser yet. I keep saying I’m going to buy one but I guess because I don’t need one, I haven’t boughten one. My point is, wait to buy something until you know you actually need it.

First Apartment Essentials – living room

As you start buying your essentials, you will see how expensive it really is to move into an apartment for the first time. That being said, your furniture will be the most expensive. Don’t get overwhelmed though because living room furniture is only updated every 5-10 years.

  1. couch
  2. coffee table
  3. TV and TV stand

Take your time finding the right couch. Do your research on quality and price. My couch was my “splurge”. I wanted a good quality couch because I didn’t want to have to replace it in five years and spend more than I did the first time. I got this one from Article.

Money saving tip – try to buy your furniture during holiday sales or black Friday. You will find really good deals during this time.

First Apartment Essentials – cleaning essentials

Don’t go crazy on cleaning essentials, you don’t need a lot. You also don’t need a cleaner for every surface. No matter what the commercials tell you 🙂

  1. white distilled vinegar
  2. rubbing alcohol
  3. multi-purpose cleaner
  4. toilet bowl cleaner
  5. mop and bucket
  6. sweeper or broom
  7. vacuum

First Apartment Essentials – misc.

These miscellaneous items went over my head and I was not prepared!

I want to make sure I give you the best first apartment essentials checklist so I’ve included this misc. section because these are definitely essentials!

  1. screwdriver
  2. light bulbs
  3. box cutter
  4. flashlight
  5. step stool or small ladder
  6. batteries
  7. entry doormat for your shoes
  8. scissors
  9. duct or scotch tape

Finally, here are some money saving tips that I have learned over the past year after moving into my first apartment.

First Apartment Essentials – money saving tips

Along with giving you the best first apartment essentials checklist, I also want to give you money saving tips.

I’ve learned so much going through this process that I want to help others because I know it can be overwhelming.

  1. Just because it’s on sale that doesn’t mean you have to buy it.
  2. Wait for holiday sales (labor day, 4th of July, Black Friday, etc.) to buy furniture or expensive pieces.
  3. You don’t need 10 vases, candles, and throw pillows…..
  4. You don’t need 15 different cleaning products.
  5. You don’t need to buy expensive laundry detergent.
  6. If there are items on this list you already have, don’t buy another one.
  7. Do price comparisons for big-ticket items or items you will likely spurge on. If you find an item that you like, type it in google and see how much each store is selling it for.
  8. If your family or friends have any hand me downs, take them!

Good luck! Remember, less is more.

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