First Apartment Checklist: Everything You’ll Need For Your New Home

Updated July 6, 2021
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Renting your first apartment is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, and we want to help make it as seamless as possible. You’ll need to bring many essential and fundamental items or buy them, and you won’t want to forget anything. To help guide you on the right path, we put together a list of all the essentials for a worry-free move into your first apartment

Don’t panic! Use this first apartment checklist to ensure you have everything you need for your first home. 

What Your First Apartment Should Have

Before you head to Target or Walmart to get all your new apartment essentials, there are a few things your first apartment should have that will make living easy. But, of course, all of these considerations may also dictate what you’ll be buying for move-in day. 

Bedroom Sizes

Your first apartment bedroom doesn’t need to be a spacious master suite, but enough room for activities is a plus. If you don’t have a mattress yet, you can worry less about bedroom size and find a matching mattress afterward. 

If you already own a large mattress, consider it when looking for your first apartment. You’ll need more space for a queen-size mattress along with a bedside table and dresser or two. 

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Storage Options

Your first apartment should have enough storage for you to keep plenty of food, cleaning supplies, and holiday decorations. Make sure your apartment has a pantry for all your tasty snacks and some sort of storage closet, whether it’s in the basement or right in the foyer. 

apartment small storage

The bathroom should have some cupboard space and a medicine cabinet, but it’s not essential. If you don’t have a lot of storage, there are above-the-toilet shelves available at many stores (just make sure not to overload it with little things that could fall into the toilet). 

Counter Space

Apartments notoriously don’t have a lot of counter space, especially if you’re living in a city. So before you buy an air fryer, blender, and a much-needed waffle maker, make sure you have room on the counter or in the cupboards for them. 

Living Room Size

If you’re living alone, your first apartment doesn’t need a spacious living room unless you’re practicing your gymnastics routine every evening. All you need is space for a couch, TV, and coffee table. Get some hand-me-down furniture to save a few bucks, too. 

Parking Options

Apartments can offer off-street or covered parking—or none at all. You may even be able to get a garage for an extra fee. However, parking is up to the landlord and rarely looks the same at the next apartment. So research your options before signing the lease. 

No car? Then you don’t have to worry so much about this option! Instead, focus on interior amenities you want, such as laundry, a microwave, or a dishwasher. And find an apartment close to a bus line for convenient transportation.

Laundry Options

If you’ve ever had to lug your laundry across town and wait at the laundromat as your clothes are washed in a public machine, then you’ll know just how frustrating it is and how much of a luxury it would be to have in-unit laundry. Even a facility in your building’s basement sounds great, too!

Keep in mind that in-unit laundry will skyrocket the rent of an apartment. If you can live without it, then you’ll save a few bucks each month (though you’ll have pockets full of quarters). 


Whether it be buzzing in guests, a front-desk officer, or simply a chain lock for your door, the level of security is necessary to help you feel safe at home. 

Look into the area you’ll live in and what the crime rate is like surrounding your building. For example, if break-ins are a notorious problem in your neighborhood, that front-desk security officer is looking a little more appealing. 

First Apartment Essentials

You put down the security deposit and are ready to move into your new apartment; congrats! 

There are many small things you need to remember to buy before you move in, and the list can make a significant dent in your wallet. Fortunately, many household essentials are available at dollar stores and discount shops. 

You can buy paper products at bulk stores, so you’ll get a discount on loads of toilet paper and not have to worry about repurchasing it for a while. Without further ado, here’s what you should bring with you for your first night in your new digs:

Bedroom Essentials

  • Mattress (size depending on your bedroom size)
  • Pillows, sheets, and duvet/comforter
  • Blackout curtains (essential if you hate waking up at sunrise)
  • Hangers and laundry basket


  • Bed frame and box spring
  • Dresser
  • Mirror

Living Room Essentials

  • Rug
  • Curtains


  • Couch
  • Coffee table
  • Side table
  • Entertainment center (complete with TV)

kitchen utensils

Kitchen Essentials

  • Pots and pans
  • Plates and bowls
  • Silverware
  • Cooking utensils
  • Chef’s knife and paring knives
  • Measuring cups
  • Colander
  • Cutting board
  • Ice cube tray (if you don’t have an ice maker)
  • Can opener
  • Tupperware
  • Cups and mugs
  • Coffee maker
  • Mixing bowls
  • Oven mitts
  • Dishtowels
  • Hand soap and dish soap


  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster
  • Microwave (if not included in your rental)

Bathroom Essentials

  • Toilet paper and tissues
  • Hand soap
  • Rug
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Baskets
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Toilet brush
  • Shower curtain
  • Shower and bathroom essentials (i.e., shampoo/conditioner, body soap, toothpaste, etc.)

Miscellaneous Home Essentials 

You can buy the following home essentials after your first day in your new apartment

  • Trash can and bags
  • Aluminum foil/plastic wrap
  • Paper towels/napkins
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Duster
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Welcome mat
  • Scissors, tape, pens, and pencils
  • Screwdriver, hammer, nails, screws
  • First Aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher (most apartments are required by law to have one already, so check ahead of time before investing in one)

First Apartment Items You Don’t Need Right Away

You have a list of everything you need to make your first week at your new home an easy-breezy one. While you won’t need the following items right away, they’re nice to have or keep in mind when you’re settling in. 

  • Wall art
  • Decorative rugs
  • Blender, waffle maker, panini press, and other nonessential kitchen appliances
  • Bookshelves
  • Candles
  • Wall hooks
  • Lamps (unless your living room doesn’t have a ceiling light—then purchase a lamp as soon as possible)
  • Tablecloths
  • Throw blankets and pillows
  • House plants


first apartment checklist of items you need

Tips for Furnishing Your Apartment

If you’re moving into your first apartment, you probably don’t have too much stuff of your own (if you lived in a dorm or at home with your parents), and you are starting at ground zero. Unfortunately, it can be super expensive to purchase everything for your apartment brand new, at full price. Luckily there are tons of options for furnishing your apartment that won’t break the bank.

For furniture, you can get some great deals shopping second-hand at thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, or local marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist. You will have to navigate a little bit around people trying to sell something for too much money or selling broken items. It takes a little more time to dig through the fluff and go see the actual items, but you can save a ton of money in the end.

If secondhand items are not your vibe, Ikea is a great place to furnish your first apartment with highly affordable pieces of essential furniture like bed frames, dressers, storage, and bathroom and kitchen items for a fraction of the price of bigger box stores like Target and Home Goods. Plus, you can pick up some super cute decor like art, plants, and rugs at the same time.

Electronics and Technology

Now let’s talk about the important stuff: getting your TV set up. We’re kidding, of course, but there are quite a few electronics to make sure you get set up and service transferred to your new apartment before you can enjoy streaming services, cables, or whatever you like to spend your time watching.

Here’s a list of things you’ll want to bring electronics-wise, plus the cords and steps required to get them properly set up in your new apartment.

  • Television + power cord
  • Roku/Apple TV/other streaming devices
  • Cable box (if applicable)
  • Speaker or soundbar
  • HDMI cable
  • Audio cable
  • Wifi router (if not supplied by your apartment building)
  • Laptop or Computer
  • Computer chargers
  • Extension cords

The majority of these electronics are pretty simple to set up yourself and can be done once you’re all moved in. On the other hand, maybe you like to get the TV going pretty quickly so you can binge The Office while unpacking boxes, or maybe that’s just us. Either way, there are a few critical steps to take before tackling your electronic and technology setup.

Getting Cable and Internet Set Up

First, you will want to make sure you transfer your internet and cable service to your new apartment before you move. It’s usually very simple to do online or on the phone. All you need is your current address, new address, and the date you’d like to resume service.

Throughout all the hustle and bustle of moving, you don’t want to be dealing with returning a cable box or remote or setting up service during that time, so do as much of it as you can before you move, or expect to wait a while after your move-in date to get it done. Usually, if you rent or own your cable box, you can bring it with you to the new place, place it into the cable cord, and they can transfer your service to that address—easy as pie.

The same goes for the internet. If your apartment building supplies FREE wifi, you can cancel or suspend your service when you move, no hassle at all. If you want to keep your internet provider or need to pay for your own internet in the new place, transferring it over is super simple and can be done online or over the phone, just like cable. Simply give your new address and the date to start service, plug in your modem and router at the new place, and away you go.

Tips for installing your electronics:

  • Put your TV and TV stand on a wall near an electrical outlet. The last thing you want is to be running long extension cords across the room to power your devices.
  • Get a charging port for multiple charging devices. For example, if you want to charge your phone, laptop, and Bluetooth speaker in one place, a USB charging port can help consolidate the devices.
  • Make sure your TV is on a stable surface to prevent tipping over and breaking anything important (like itself).
  • If you do need to run extension cords in the room, you can run them along your baseboards or on the ceiling and use clips or 3M sticky hooks to help blend it in along the edge of the wall.
  • And as always, never overstuff an outlet or extension cord to prevent blowing a fuse, breaking your devices, or starting a fire.

Must-Have Cleaning Supplies

Chances are, once you’re all moved in, you’re going to want to clean up a bit. You’ve probably tossed up a lot of dust, dirt and have tons of packing garbage all over. And if this is your first apartment, you probably don’t have much for cleaning supplies, if any. So we’ve compiled a list of cleaning supplies that are essential to maintaining your new apartment right from the start. Some of these things may have been mentioned already, but we’ll reiterate them in this section.

Basin with cleaning supplies on table and professional janitor in kitchen

  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels/rags
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Window cleaner (pro-tip: coffee filters work great to wipe without leaving streaks)
  • Bleach/toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toilet brush
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Sponges/Scrubbers
  • Magic Erasers
  • Squeegee for glass shower doors
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop and bucket/Swiffer mop
  • Duster
  • Wood wipes or Pine-Sol spray
  • Gloves

Before You Go

While there are many essential items on this list, each is important to make a smooth transition to your new apartment. This first apartment checklist gives you everything you need to move in, right down to the last screw. 

Take a look at the nonessentials list we included, so you know what not to buy before you turn the key in the door. Items like decor and house plants will brighten up your space, but they’re one less thing you need to lug inside on your first day. 

Holding off on buying decorations can also help you decide what you want your new apartment to look like. For example, you might like the whimsical purple tablecloth one day, but then you’ll find it won’t match your new apartment’s aesthetic the next. 

Focus on the essentials first. Buy your favorite toothpaste, get a few plates and bowls, and invest in a comfy mattress. All of these and the above items will make your new space feel like home in no time. 

And of course, all of these items need a place to go, so check out our available apartments for your first one with Bigos Management.

Check out our Properties     
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