The First 10 Items You Need For Your First Apartment!

Two weeks ago we gave you the top 10 additional things you should make sure to get for your first apartment. Then, a reader(Hey Jim!) wrote that we never gave you the first 10 important apartment items. Lo siento, Amigos. But, it’s not too late — read on if you are having concerns about what absolutely essential apartment items you need to start a happy and healthy home life.

1) Bed. Seriously, get rid of that air mattress. Oh, it’s comfortable? Yeah, I’m not buying it. NYC has a bed bug problem so I wouldn’t advise Craigslist, but for other cities I def would. I sold my $600 bed in Chicago after 1.5 years for $175. It was a great bed and of course I used a mattress cover, mattress pad, and sheets the entire time I used it to so it was totally clean. Other cheaper options are a futon and/or bed store floor model (that people DO touch, so I’d choose the Craigslist route instead.) Scared about shopping for that bed? Here’s a link to my advice on getting the best deal from the mattress salesman.

2) Smoke Alarm. Fires are Bad. ‘Nuff said. (Your landlord is responsible for providing this, but you are responsible for checking and making sure he/she is living up o their part of the bargain).

3) CO Alarm (=carbon monoxide detector) (see #2)

4) Couch. Sitting on the floor or on card table chairs might seem like an okay way to begin apartment life. It’s uncomfortable. And, not homey. Why start your new apt life like that? You can find a cheapish couch at IKEA and you’ll be so happy you did!

5) Plates and silverware. Homes don’t have paper plates and that’s what you’re building or yourself. Plus, it’s bad for the environment.

6) Dishsoap. Caus, you’ll be keeping those plates for awhile!

7) TV. IT’S LOST FINAL SEASON. You COULD watch on your computer but OMG how can you wait that extra day til it’s on Hulu?

8) Lamp(s). It’s pretty amazing how soft light can change a space for the better. Be sure to also get a bedside table lamp so you don’t bang any toes while getting into bed.

9) Cleaning Materials + Paper Towels/TP. When you move into a new apt, it’s likely that whoever was there before you did an “OK” job but you’ll likely want to do your own scrubbing — before all the furniture is in place.

10) Additional necessary furniture. Bedside tables, Dining Room table, Chairs, TV Stand, Kitchen Cart, Bookcase, Desk, Desk Chair, Bathroom Cart.

Of course, there are other items you’ll require (and they are all included in our Checklists) but this list should do you pretty well! Feel free to add other items in comments:)

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Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (27)

  1. Avatar Xx

    This is the most useless list I’ve ever seen! A TV so you can watch the final season of lost but you don’t even have a kettle or fridge or anything useful yet. Incompetent

  2. Avatar Alice Carroll

    Thanks for the tip that a CO alarm is good to have when renting an apartment. I’ve been thinking about finding an apartment rental soon so that I can finally move out of my parents’ house. That would be a good way for me to be a lot more independent.

  3. Avatar Trudy Buchanan


    reference to LOSt
    final season is amazing!

    come join our group on FB for Lost Lovers

    Lost Shambala!

  4. Avatar Ross Adams

    And don’t forget about renters insurance. It’s actually the first thing that tenants need to buy before renting an apartment even if homeowner doesn’t require it. Some think that the landlord’s insurance covers renters and their stuff too. But it doesn’t work that way. Landlord’s insurance is only there to cover them and their property. Yes, renter’s insurance is a thing. And if you still have some doubts, read this article With renters insurance, I have the peace of mind of never having to worry about my stuff when “life happens”.

  5. Avatar ashton

    i am turning 18 this summer and of course i feel like i just need to get out of here and get my own apartment

  6. Avatar William

    As someone who commutes to college (DePaul) and still lives with his parents, I have some questions/responses to this list for when I strike out on my own in a few years:

    1 and 4) What is your opinion of sofa beds?
    2-3) I agree.
    5) My dad bought a stack of foam plates (200) about a month ago for a couple bucks so my mom wouldn’t have to do the dishes a lot, and we’re still using them. If I’m living alone, I’m not sure why it would be a bad idea not to go paper/Styrofoam.
    7) I agree, but what is your opinion about getting cable service?
    8-9) I agree.
    10) In the four apartments I have lived in with my parents, we have never had a dining room table, and we get along fine (we eat around the coffee table in out living room.)

    • Alex Alex

      Hi William,

      I’d be happy to answer:

      1 and 4) Well, sofa beds are generally not very comfortable, and also much more expensive than regular sofas. They’re good for guests, but not a permanent sleeping spot, at least comfort/convenience-wise. If you’re living in a studio and you don’t mind, it may be a good solution for you. That said, if you’re planning on having a bedroom and a living room, it’s going to be awkward having all your nighttime stuff in the living room. (Or, walking back and forth between your bed in the living room and your nighttime stuff in the bedroom.) So, I would say it depends on the person, but I’d generally against it as a full-time bed.

      5) If you can’t wash your own dishes, I can’t help. If you’re by yourself, it’s what, like three dishes a day!? The reason not to buy paper plates is that it’s a waste of resources, and some people find eating off of them unpleasant.

      7) Cable can be nice. It’s expensive, but if you think you’ll use it and you can afford it, go for it — and look for bundling opportunities, where you get cable and internet in one. You’ll save money that way.

      10) You’re right — if you’re comfortable without one, there’s no sense in splurging for it.

  7. Avatar CeCe

    Goodwill is the place to be. I actually work at a goodwill and my bf and I are moving into a first apartment next month…my bed is brand new from goodwill (they take used but also buy brand new mattresses from other sellers) and I have found a kitchen table, lamps, computer desk, disher/silverware, you name it. A lot of other things I have bought came from Dollar General of course. Overall my boyfriend and I may have spent $400 on a thousand dollar purchases- and we have EVERYTHING to furnish our places. Places like Ikea and big home improvement stores cost an arm and a leg. And if it’s your first apartment anyways, who cares where it comes from? You can improve over time.

  8. Avatar Robyn

    As I’m looking though this website and having a bit of OCD I do love all of the recommendations and lists provided… I would like to see a first box to unpack list (which would be the last one you pack so you can have easy access when unpacking) which would contain the toilet paper, paper cups, paper plates for those people we are providing pizza or subs for, plastic cutlery, lots of paper towels, garbage bags, box cutter, scissors, tool box with some essentials, dish washing liquid to get a head start on washing those dishes before you put them away, bathroom cleaner, bleach, soap to wash hands, multi-purpose cleaner, bucket to wash walls and large surfaces down, shower curtain and some towels,(you will need to shower that night) pad and paper (you know when you have to make a list.) Accessible in your car should be your vacuum (why move furniture into a dirty apartment only to have to vacuum again?) table lamps or stand-alone lamps, some of those collapsible chairs to take a break on. Pack about two weeks’ worth of clothes and essentials so you’re not scrounging though boxes every day to find your favorite jeans or tooth brush. Lastly some essentials like bottled water and sodas to keep in the fridge, snacks for a few days, can opener, microwave (if your first place does not provide one,) cell phone charger, radio, folder for all papers you receive or have to sign, pillows, blankets, sheets (if your furniture is coming that day), extension cords, powers strips, candles in case they do not turn your power on right away and it starts to get dark, cash for tipping people, and finally I would suggest labeling every box with exactly what is in it, so you’re not opening every box every day, while unpacking , to look for something . Hope this helps someone out?

  9. Avatar krystal

    I am buying most of my stuff from dollar general. The only things I won’t buy from there is bed, couch and kitchen table with chairs. The bed will be bought from mattress firm or sam’s club and the rest from walmart. It seems to be the cheapest way.

  10. Avatar Nicole

    In my opinion ikea furniture is cheap looking, poorly made, and trashy. Plus it isn’t cheap at all! My advice to anyone who is starting out is to try places like Goodwill and thrift stores. i live in a Chicago suburb and i go to goodwill twice a week. its never the same twice! there is always new things. Whether it be a brand new or lit once Yankee candle for 50 cents, or a slightly used couch for 10 bucks! I mean obviously you have to look around a bit. Some stuff won’t be tor style. But this month i completed my goal. Fill my 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment (with a dining area, kitchen and living room) for under 500 bucks! I bought everything furniture rise from goodwill and bought a brand new mattress off a website. And my furniture is solid! Classy! And i even decorated with wall art and nick-knacks! My entire dish set, cooking ware, and wine glades came from there too! check there website to see when there 50% off days are at your local store and when there 15% off days are (they happen weekly!!). aside from being cheap. It can bring your apartment too Life and adding the finishing touches turn it into a home.

    • Sisko Sisko

      Thanks for your great comment. In addition to Goodwill, many other charitable association have their own thrift stores where you can make real finds on budget. There’s even a website, The Thriftshopper that let’s you find the thrift stores near you by zip code.

  11. Sisko Sisko

    Hi Jazmyn and thanks for your nice words about the site.

    I’d say the two most important things about renting your first apartment are: 1.) don’t pay more rent than you can afford and 2.)read every word of your lease before you sign and ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you need two jobs to afford your place, while studying full time in college, the rent is too high. And before you become roomies with your BF and assume you’ll continue to live together – even if the relationship does not work out – consider how you’d feel when he brings home his new GF. Who will use your shampoo! And eat your yogurt!

    Anyway, if you are still more than a year away from the actual rental decision, things may look very different when you are ready to sign the lease. So, just chill and it will all work out.

  12. Avatar Jazmyn

    OK! I accually LOVE reading post from you guys, because I’m at the point where I’m about to go to college, I need to save for a car, and I’m planning on renting my first apartment my second year of college. (I’m sorry if my messege is off topic or if it’s not interesting I just want some outside-the-family advice :))What are the major things I need to know about renting my first apartment? Money wise i will be making 1080 a month for private lessons and if I work part time shift at starbucks that will add about 1140 a month. The place im looking at is 885 a month and my current boyfriend (of 3 years) and I may be attending the same college, and are considering going half/half on rent even if relationship wise we dont work out. It’s a very convenient location to school and its a beautiful place. If I’ve said to much I’m SO SORRY !!! But basically my point is: What should I know about renting my first apartment and am I in over my head??? PLEASE give me some feed back and any adivce and the more advice the better!!! THANK YOU!!!

  13. Avatar rosie

    I think towels/washcloths would be a must, unless u want to drip dry! You can find cheap ones at walmart especially around ‘dorm move-in’ time =)
    Don’t forget the soap!

  14. Avatar Kati

    I don’t get why people keep reffering to IKEA. I don’t find it affordable at all. There has to be another option.

  15. Avatar Brad C.

    Pay no attention to the previous poster. This is valuable info for the concerned and prospective tenants! Besides, I saw one spelling error but we all get your point so who cares. Haha. Good one!