Things You Need For Your First Apartment: The Ultimate Checklist

First ApartmentYou found an apartment, you signed the lease, you wrote the check. Congrats, you’re now all ready to move into your first apartment! Except, wait a minute, you’re not. You need things to put in the apartment. And what, exactly, do you need?

Here’s a handy checklist of things you’ll need (or at least want, in all likelihood), organized by room, with extra blanks for YOU to fill in. Our suggested top priorities are in bold, but before you panic keep in mind many of these items can be bought cheaply second-hand or even picked up free.  And if we’ve missed anything, please let us know in the comments!

Download and print this checklist [PDF]

Entrance area

  • Welcome mat (for outside the door)
  • Small area rug (for just inside the door)
  • Wall hooks for jackets, keys, etc.
  • Small table or bench for shoe storage
  • Lamp, if there’s no other light source by the door
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________

Living room

  • Couch, chairs, or other things to sit on
  • Coffee table
  • Bookshelves
  • Television
  • Stand for TV
  • Throw pillows for couch/chairs
  • Artwork
  • Lamp(s)
  • For more furnishing suggestions check out our Basic Furniture Checklist
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________

guy buying groceriesKitchen

  • Food!
  • Silverware
  • Silverware organizer (drawer insert)
  • Dishes (e.g. plates, glasses, mugs, bowls, serving platters, etc.)
  • Trash and recycling cans
  • Pots and pans
  • Oven mitts
  • Spatulas, ladles, whisks, etc.
  • Container for countertop storage of spatulas, ladles, whisks, etc.
  • Dish towels
  • Dish drying rack
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Bottle opener and corkscrew
  • Plastic containers for food storage (e.g. Tupperware or Gladware)
  • Rolls of aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, and parchment paper
  • Paper (or newspaper) to line cupboards and shelves
  • Zip-top plastic bags of various sizes
  • Cutting boards
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Microwave
  • Coffee maker
  • Kettle or hotpot
  • Ice cube trays
  • Blender
  • Hand mixer
  • Can opener
  • Good, sharp knives (at least one large chef’s knife and a small paring knife)
  • Serving spoon
  • Colander
  • Additional free-standing shelves or storage, as needed (e.g. metal shelf units from Target or IKEA)
  • Dish soap and sponges/scrubbers
  • Trash can
  • Small area rug
  • For more kitchen essentials, check out our Starter Pantry and Staples Checklist, our Starter Equipment Checklist and Sam’s favorite kitchen equipment sources
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________

Fork and knifeDining area

  • Table and chairs
  • Tablecloth or placemats
  • Napkins
  • Candles/tealights and candle holders
  • Trivets
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________


Shower curtainBathroom

  • Shower curtain (and rings to hold it up)
  • Shower caddy
  • Toothbrush
  • Toiletries (e.g. bath soap, hand soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.)
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet plunger
  • Bath mat(s)
  • Air freshener
  • Tissues
  • Trash can
  • Over-the-door towel hook
  • Towels (bath and hand) and washcloths (be sure to have extras for any guests who spend the night)
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________



  • Bed!
  • Pillows
  • Mattress and box spring
  • Mattress pad
  • Sheets and comforter
  • Night stand
  • Lamp
  • Dresser
  • Hangers (more than you think you need)
  • Hamper
  • Trash can
  • Curtains
  • Alarm clock
  • Desk
  • Chair for desk
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________
  • __________________________________


  • Cleaning supplies (e.g. rags, paper towels, sprays)
  • Laundry soap, fabric softener, stain remover (e.g. Shout) and a jar of quarters for laundry
  • Trash bags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Small broom and dustpan
  • Extension cords
  • Surge strips
  • Basic tools, including screwdrivers (flat and Phillips-heads), hammer (and some small nails), duct tape, box-cutter or X-acto knife, duct tape, pliers, wrench, and masking tape (at the very least, get a Leatherman, which includes basic versions of most of the above-mentioned tools)
  • Large plastic bins or other storage
  • Pens
  • Paper (for grocery lists, doodles, etc.)
  • Flashlight(s)
  • Batteries of various types, including backups for your flashlight
  • Candle
  • Matches
  • Tweezers
  • Fans
  • Emergency Kit, as Alissa detailed after Hurricane Sandy
  • Window air conditioner
  • Internet router and associated cords
  • Light bulbs
  • First aid kit
  • Carbon monoxide alarm
  • Fire alarm (as Alissa pointed out in her post “The First 10 Items You Need For Your First Apartment!,” your landlord is responsible for providing a smoke detector, but you should check to make sure it works)
  • _________________________________
  • _________________________________
  • _________________________________

Download and print this checklist [PDF]

Related Posts

Author My First Apartment

Posted by

Doug Mack is a writer based in Minneapolis and the author of the travel memoir Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide (Perigee Books/Penguin). He has lived in apartments large and small, historic and modern, in Minneapolis and Chicago. Visit his web site at or find him on Twitter @douglasmack.

Leave a Comment

Comments (103)

  1. Raven

    Toilet plunger should be bolded. You never need one until you do. And when you need it you need it ASAP

  2. rpoloms1Ryan

    I’m planning for my move into Atlanta within the next few months and one thing that I’m looking into is security cameras. My friends’ condo was broken into – laptops, cash, etc were stolen. They normally don’t keep much money on hand but they were leaving for a vacation to Spain within the week. Security cameras that are motion activated and store images/footage via the cloud could have been a huge help in identifying the perpetrators. Might not be necessary for everyone, but it is something to think about.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for your advice. We are also big on renter’s insurance. You may not realize how much valuable stuff you have until it’s gone.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi Natasha,
      The fridge and stove usually come with the apartment. Don’t rent a place without all appliances in place and in working order.

  3. Jackie S.

    Very helpful!!! My daughter is getting her first apartment in May. I wanted to mention it doesn’t hurt to have rental insurance also for areas that flood or have other weather issues.

  4. Vivian

    I’m thinking about moving out this year. This list helped tremendously. Thanks.

  5. Kaitlyn Garner

    This list was very helpful. I’m 21 and planning on fully living on my own for the first time this coming summer. I have some of these items already, and I knew I needed some items already. But this list was helpful in all the other random things for each room that I forgot or didn’t think about. Thank you!

  6. CarolinaK

    and what about air conditioner?or air humidifier to improve air quality?
    in addition many old houses have mold or fungi, that it’s important to install air filters. Especially if you’re allergic to some substances (like dust, for example) or have children.

  7. Rhonda

    Don’t forget a mop and a basic medicine/medical kit with pain reliever, bandaids, etc.

  8. Mara

    I love this! Very organized and useful. Could actually use it as a shopping list! Excellent! Thanks

  9. Jennifer Dewey

    This is exactly the ultimate checklist! My sister’s moving to her new place and your post will be of a great help for her. Definitely recommending it to her, because she thinks that walking around and throwing stuff in a box is a moving preparation. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Tina

    I went on to see how much this would all cost for me, minus all the things that I’d already have or wouldn’t want, and also excluding bedroom furniture (this site didn’t seem to great at calculating those). The total was about $1250. Good luck guys! :D

    Hand-me-downs are our friends. If I maximized all my opportunities I could easily cut that total in half.

  11. Sarah

    Thank you so much for this!!! It helped ALOT! Happy New Year to you and your family

  12. Jasmina p.

    I am expecting to move to my new apartment in two weeks. I am super excited and cannot wait to go shopping for all of the needs for my apartment. Thank you for this, as this was very helpful!

    Have a happy new year!


    Half of this stuff I got but you helped me
    A lot with the Miscellaneous
    Thank you


    Omg you all are life savers, i just found the apartment of my dreams and compared to your list i had like 20 things on there, thank God for the internet

  15. Terry MacDonald

    What a wonderful resource. Thank you. It really helped to get all things my son needed for his new

  16. shilpa

    I am shifting to a new unfurnished apartment in eindhoven and i am purchasing furniture for it but i dont know how to transfer up to my apartment .any one knows any company or people which shift furniture to our apartment without using elevator? as my elevator is to small to shift.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      Hi LindaG,
      It is always smart to change the locks, if your landlord has not done that for you. Unfortunately, the landlord is not usually required to do it, so you may have to it yourself. Make sure you get landlord’s permission and hive him or the super the new key for emergency access.
      Better safe than sorry!

  17. Christina

    This really helped ty helping my sister get her stuff for her first apartment and she has nothing yet

  18. Kielvin

    This is a very good checklist for everyone who has to move into his first apartment! I am one, so I will definitely use it in two weeks, big thanks for the help!

  19. Noe

    Wow, this really came in handy, I got most of items without this list, but I knew I was missing something, this completed my items needed……

  20. Breanna

    This came in handy while i was at my dads house, preparing him for his new apartment because he’s now with his mom, after his divorce with my mom. He didnt even think of half the things on this list. Thanks! :)

  21. TinhNGy

    What a great idea!
    I would LOVE to see a series on how you clean your house.

    • MFA Editors MFA Editors

      A great idea, thanks. We have many posts on the topic already. Check out the Housekeeping tab.

  22. Miranda

    This is a very good checklist for everyone who has to move into his first apartment! I am one, so I will definitely use it in two weeks, big thanks for the help!

  23. Whitney Billings

    This is a good list for the basics Doug, but you’ve left quite a number of essentials out. Of course, those young people who are moving out on their on for the first time might do just fine, and this should come in very helpful, but don’t forget your coffee mugs, glasses to drink out of, and your dinnerware unless you’ll be eating off of paper plates for the rest of your days! I’m assuming this was meant as a savings list to avoid unnecessary spending of money you could be saving starting out. All in all, there are excellent tips–definitely for the college student.

    • Admin Admin

      Good point. Fridge and stove usually come with the apartment so they are typically not items that you have to buy.

  24. oldfatmotherfucker (@unemployedfatty)

    This is truly a life saver for me. I am planning to have my first real (non university) apartment in September and I am a bit nervous about forgetting to buy important things.

  25. Kaka

    everythings will be okey with my new little apartment when i read your sharing,, IOI

  26. Dandy

    Why wasn’t the bedroom included? Here are some other things if you only have the clothes on your back. An iron, step stool, a new toilet seat, plenty of sponges, curtains/drapes (if you are broke use sheets and thumb tacks). Bob’s Discount Furniture now has a relationship with Rent-a-Center, this expands the amount of buying options.

    • Admin Admin

      Hi Dandy,
      Excellent additions. Thanks.
      (Looks like you missed the second page of the list where you’ll find bedroom, bathroom, dining area, and miscellaneous items.)

  27. Ray

    my friend & I actually just signed our first apartment lease and this list was very helpul. thanks!

  28. Joe

    I’m in the process of looking for a new place and realized that for the first time, I don’t need to rebuild anything – all I need to do is pack up and go. The above list is top-notch – I’ve made my own before, and it really is intimidating. Here’s some advice for the true first-timer;

    1 – Go to a thrift store, spend $5 on dishes and silverware, hide it in your car and forget about it.

    2 – Fill your backpack, or whatever, with a few days worth of clothes, a few extension cords, and a radio. I don’t care how connected you are RIGHT NOW, in a few days you’re going to be in an alien environment trying to sort it all out. Creature comforts are a godsend.

    3 – Bring every blanket you own. Is there a bed there waiting for you? How long is it going to be before your furniture, if you have any yet, arrives? Ever sleep on a hardwood floor for a prolonged period of time? Again, simple things can make a huge difference.

    4 – If you can, get a credit card. I’m not advising that you use it to furnish your new place, rather that you use it as a backup buffer if and when you’re about to fall behind. Even if you don’t live in luxury, all the little things add up and will eventually surprise you. Paying cash is easy when there are no other expenses – but now? Things happen, expenses occur, and every so often the budget doesn’t quite work.

    5 – When it all starts falling into place, take a day for yourself. Breathe easy. Kick back and relax. YOU did this. YOU stepped out on your own. YOU took responsibility for the roof over your head. It ain’t fun, it ain’t easy, but if you got this far it was only because YOU did it on your own. Understand that, take a look around you and see just what you’ve done, and breathe a sigh of relief. If and when there’s a next time, YOU are the responsible one that has a plan and has their life together.

  29. Becky

    You should have this list printable. It is an excellent start to everything you need for your first apartment.

  30. Shawna Crawford

    This was very helpful! I’m 21, lived in a dorm for a year, but moved back in with my parents 2 years ago after I came home. This list helped me figure out things that I wouldn’t have ever thought of before for an apartment! This will be my first place on my own that I pay for. Thank you for the ideas!

  31. Lori

    When my kids got their new houses and when our new pastors move into the parsonage, (or anyone who’s moving)! I show up on move-in-day (or closing day) with: 2 small trash cans lined with a plastic grocery bag, 2 rolls of paper towels, 2 liquid hand soap, and toilet paper.
    I put one small trash can, 1 hand soap, and 1 paper towels in the kitchen.
    Then I put a small trash can, 1 hand soap, paper towels, and toilet paper in the bathroom,
    No frantic unpacking for necessities such as towels, soap, etc. They can always use the small trash cans in bedrooms later.
    I get the stuff at a dollar store.

    • Admin Admin

      Not only are you a great parent, wonderful friend and good neighbor, you are giving everyone moving a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing!

  32. Brandee

    This was extremely helpful! I’m moving out this year and this checklist really helped for the small yet important things I was forgetting about! Thanks so much!!

  33. Caitlin

    I copied & pasted this list into a spreadsheet to help me organize everything – what I have, what I want, and what I need. Thank you so much – super helpful!

  34. Ms.Ty

    I will be needing a big checklist for bedrooms, bathroom, livingroom and the kitchen. Please help me Im a little nervous because this will be my first apartment but Im exicited too.

  35. twogood

    I live in MD and plan to move to NJ within the next few months about a year ago I started my wish list and rented a storage unit. I have things in there that I think I will need for my apt. I am willing to share some stores where I have found some nice things: Gabriel Brothers in Aberdeen, Md, I bought $5 King size sheets new, kitchen rug for $1, a Coldwater Creek Mirror with the $250 price tag attached for $7 and Gabes has sidewalk sales where I have got kitchen utensils from Faberware, Ecko and Kitchenaid for $15 a bag. Scratch and Dent in Baltimore, I bought a Eco Motion Sensor trash can for $20 NIB and NIB Shark Rotator Vaccum for $60 and there is a Shop Smart Outlet that has similar deals as Scratch & Dent. There is also a shawnmart(dot)com that I buy haircare for $1. I think I have spent $500 in merchandise and have a value of $5000. Now I am trying to get the furniture…

  36. rizenshine

    My sister is moving into a furnished sublet, so there were a ton of things we didn’t need to think about. But this list showed us how many things we hadn’t thought of yet. Awesome!

  37. Renee

    I need a checklist for a childs room….I’m moving with my (19mo.old now) he will be 2 when we move

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Renee,

      While we appreciate your interest, baby/toddler issues are generally outside the scope of our website. For more information on children’s rooms, check out our friend over at ChecklistMommy.

  38. Nicole

    My husband and I lost our apartment and a lot of belongings (not IMPORTANT stuff, but a lot of small stuff like what’s on this list) in a tornado, and now we’re moving into a new place and this list is SO HELPFUL! It’s so hard to remember all of the little things up until you need them!

    • Alex Alex

      Hi Nicole,

      Good to hear and glad to help. And very sorry you were a tornado victim, but it sounds like you’re making a great recovery. Happy Holidays!

  39. Kayla

    Hi I am 19 and moving out of the house..* This is like a magic website and it helped me SO SO much!!* So thank you :)

  40. Admin Admin

    And we love your comment, Tiffany! We are so happy to hear that you find our checklists useful.

  41. Tiffany

    I love this website. I have used these checklists every time I relocated and sold or gave away items in moves. Total plus and I always recommend these checklists!!!!

    • Admin Admin

      Hi Maranda,

      Did you click through to Page 2? All your bathroom essential are listed there. Have fun furnishing your place!