Apartment Essentials Checklist for Your First Move

An apartment is more than a place to sleep. It’s a source of security, privacy, and comfort, especially when you’re starting out. It restores your equilibrium and helps you maintain control over your life. But until it’s been stocked and furnished, an apartment is just a collection of rooms. Apartment essentials are what turn it into a home. Otherwise it’s just empty space.

Man and woman having fun with moving boxes

Of course, acquiring all the apartment essentials you need can seem daunting. It takes a lot to run a household, even if it consists of just one person. Fortunately, the cost is lower than most people assume, particularly when you’re starting out. Focus on the items you need most. Once you’ve got the essentials, you’ll know where you can afford to splurge.

Bedroom Essentials

A mattress is the one thing no apartment can do without. Everyone needs a soft bed in which to sleep at night, so this should be your top priority. Mattresses can be expensive, depending on what model you buy, but there are stores that sell them at affordable prices. If you really want to save, wait for a sale. They’re especially popular around the holidays (e.g. President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4). If prices are still out of reach, a futon or air mattress can work as well.

You’ll need to pick up a few additional items to finish setting up your bedroom, things to help you sleep better, stay organized, and protect your privacy, such as:

  • Bed Sheets. At least one set, to protect your mattress.
  • Comforter. Thick and fluffy, to keep you warm.
  • Dresser. Plastic or wire storage drawers also work.
  • Curtains. If your apartment doesn’t come with blinds.
  • Pillows. One or two at least. Buy pillowcases as well, to keep your pillows fresh.
  • Hangers. Wooden hangers look nice, but wire hangers are cheaper.
  • Laundry Hamper. Buy one with handles so it can double as a laundry basket.
  • Bed Frame. Even a simple metal frame is helpful, so your mattress isn't laying on the floor.

Bathroom Essentials

After carrying in all your boxes, one of the first things you’ll want to do is take a shower. Make sure you have everything you need to keep yourself clean, including:

  • Shower Curtain. If your shower doesn’t come with a door.
  • Bath Towels. Buy two so you always have a dry one.
  • Hand Towels. Get at least two, so you have a fresh one when the first one gets too dirty.
  • Bathmat. So you don’t slip coming out of the shower.
  • Plunger. In case your toilet gets backed up.
  • Bathhook. For towels, if your apartment doesn’t have a towel rack.

Kitchen Essentials

Eating out is expensive, so you’ll want to make full use of your kitchen. You’ll be surprised how many meals you can make with a few basic cooking supplies. Start with:

  • Plates. Each person in the apartment will need at least two.
  • Bowls. Get two to start. More if you eat lots of soup and cereal.
  • Utensils. Forks, knives, and spoons, plus a steak knife.
  • Glasses. Two for every person at minimum.
  • Mug. Two, if you like drinking coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
  • Pots & Pans. One large pot, one sauce pot, and one sauce pan.
  • Knives. One chef’s knife, one paring knife, and one serrated knife.
  • Dish Towels. Get two, so you have a fresh one while the first is being washed.
  • Food Containers. To keep ingredients and leftovers fresh.
  • Cutting Board. To protect your countertops during meal prep.
  • Baking Sheet. Buy an aluminum sheet. They won’t warp inside the oven.
  • Boiler Pan. Prevents meat juices from dripping onto your burners.

  • Microwaves come standard in most apartments, but not all of them. Some people hardly use theirs, while others cannot get by without one. Whether they’re an apartment essential is up to you, but either way, they’re not expensive.

    Living Room Essentials

    Furniture isn’t cheap, but there are likely more pieces within your budget than you might think. Big box stores sell furnishings at low prices. Or, if you want something sturdier, check out a consignment shop; they have a huge selection of second-hand furniture. Remember that creating a comfortable living space doesn’t have to break the bank. A few simple items can do a lot for a room. For instance:

  • Sofa. A nice, soft place where you can relax and watch TV.
  • Coffee Table. Can double as a dining table if your place is small.
  • Dining Table. Not an apartment essential, strictly speaking, but far more comfortable to eat at than a coffee table. Buy one that seats two if you’re short on space.
  • Desk. Especially important if you work from home.
  • Chairs. For your desk and dining table. Depending on your situation, an easy chair can also substitute for a sofa.
  • Lamp. If your living room doesn’t have ceiling lights.
  • Cleaning Essentials

    One of the first things people learn when they move into their first apartment is how quickly it gets dirty. Make sure you have enough cleaning supplies to keep dust and grime from building up. At minimum, you’ll need:

  • Soap. Hand soap for the bathroom. Dish soap for the kitchen.
  • Sponges. You’ll go through a lot, so buy them in bulk.
  • All Purpose Cleaner. Something suitable for glass and countertops.
  • Paper Towels. To clean spills, dirt, and food residue.
  • Toilet Brush. To scrub the bowl when it gets dirty.
  • Trash Can. Buy a small one for the bathroom as well, if you can afford it.
  • Trash Bags. They fill up fast, so get a lot.
  • Laundry Detergent. Nothing fancy. Store brands will get your clothes just as clean.
  • Mop. If you have hardwood floors or tiles.
  • Vacuum. If you have carpeting. Though high-end models are expensive, basic models are quite affordable.
  • Other Apartment Essentials

    Even if you’re not a handyman, there are a lot of small jobs that crop up while you’re living in an apartment. Whether it’s hanging a picture or unscrewing the back of the remote, you'll need a few basic tools: hammer, flathead screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench. That's enough to cover most tasks around your home.

    First aid supplies are another apartment essential no one thinks of until they need them. Stock up now, before an accident occurs. Band-Aids, thermometer, alcohol wipes, pain killers (e.g. aspirin, Ibuprofen), and antibacterial ointment are all you need to patch up the most common mishaps.

    Finally, make sure you have a smoke detector and get a fire extinguisher. Though it’s unlikely you’ll need either of these, it's always best to be prepared.

    Moving into Your First Apartment

    Some people start from scratch when they move into a new apartment. Others have boxes and furniture to bring with them. North American Moving Services works with renters and homeowners at every stage, providing the support they need to settle safely into their new homes. Contact us today for a free quote!