Here’s What You Need For Your First Apartment

The time has come: you're moving into your first apartment! I'm thrilled for you, but I'd be lying if I said moving is a breeze. As someone who has moved numerous times (including coast to coast) in their 20-something years of life, I've become quite familiar with the process of packing and unpacking, as well as remembering what items are needed for a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room upon arrival. There are a lot of things you don't realize you need until it's too late, especially when you throw in miscellaneous items like first-aid kits and toolboxes (especially if these things were provided for you in your childhood home or college dorm).

The goal is to avoid the avoidable. Case in point: my ex-boyfriend's first college apartment - his bed rested on the ground, his kitchen had no dish detergent, and his bathroom skimped on hand soap. (This wasn't just a move-in-day issue, by the way.) You deserve a fully stocked apartment starting night one, and the key to a smooth moving experience is to be prepared. Ahead, find the ultimate first-apartment checklist - organized by room - with all the items needed for your move-in day. You don't need everything on this list, of course, but it's a helpful guide to get you going. Screenshot it to take with you on the go. (Psst . . . this doesn't include furniture; I'm assuming you have that covered.)

First-Apartment Checklist: Kitchen

Pots, pans, dishes, linens . . . and that's just the start. The kitchen has a lot to unpack (literally), so prepare for a big trip to your local department store.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Dishwasher pods
  • Paper towels (and a holder)
  • Trash bags
  • Trash can
  • Mop
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Glass cleaner
  • Bleach


  • Pots and pans
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooking sheet
  • Strainer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Casserole dish


  • Silverware (spoons, forks, and knives)
  • Cutting knives
  • Silverware organizer
  • Cups
  • Mugs
  • Cooking utensils (spatula, tongs, serving spoon, etc.)


  • Drying rack
  • Cutting board
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Food storage containers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Oven mitts
  • Chip clips
  • Corkscrew


  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Coffee maker
  • Air fryer
  • Blender
  • Slow cooker
  • Water filter

First-Apartment Checklist: Laundry

If you're lucky enough to have an in-unit laundry, pat yourself on the back - that's huge. If not, you'll still need the following essentials - like detergent and dryer sheets - to get you through. For off-site and shared laundry spaces, I recommend a hamper with straps or handles to make lugging clothes around easier.

  • Hamper
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover

First-Apartment Checklist: Bathroom

The bathroom is unavoidable and should therefore be stocked with all the essentials you need. From a trash can to hand soap to bath mats and more, you don't want to forget a dang thing when it comes to your bathroom.

  • Trash can
  • Hand towels
  • Body towels
  • Plunger
  • Toilet paper and holder
  • Hand soap
  • Window treatments
  • Small trash bags
  • Bath mat
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Toilet bowl cleaner and brush

First-Apartment Checklist: Bedroom

Besides the side tables, mattress, and dresser, there are a whole lot of other things that go into a bedroom. From window treatments that'll keep it nice and dark to pillowcases that make your bed ultra-cozy, peep the items you need for a comfortable 365 days of sleep.

  • Mirror (full-length or otherwise)
  • Hangers
  • Bed frame and boxspring
  • Pillows
  • Bed linens
  • Window treatments

First-Apartment Checklist: Living Room

I won't tell you how to decorate your home, but I'll make suggestions for a few key items - like rugs and throw blankets - that will make your first few nights as comfy as possible.


  • Rug
  • Window treatments
  • Throw blankets


  • Vacuum cleaner
  • TV
  • Extension cords, power strips, or surge protectors
  • HDMI cable

First-Apartment Checklist: Safety

Accidents happen, both during moves and in day-to-day life. If you happen to cut your finger while cooking or burn yourself on a hot pan, having these items within reach will ensure you're taken care of.

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Matches or lighter

First-Apartment Checklist: Extras

Just as every kitchen has a "junk drawer," there are always misfit items that belong . . . somewhere in your apartment. Here are the extra things you 100-percent need, although it's up to you to decide where to keep them.

  • Tape
  • Tool kit
  • Removable wall hooks or nails
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Scissors