Everything You Need for Your First Apartment: The Ultimate Checklist 2018

You’ve done it. You’ve found a place, signed a lease and put down a deposit. Congrats! You’re close to living your new home, but you’re not quite done yet: you still need to furnish your place. What do you need? How should you prioritize? Our ultimate checklist 2018 is organized by room and shows your top needs – things you should get first – in bold. Then we include all the items you may eventually accumulate. We’ve also added some blanks, so you can personalize. If we’ve missed anything, let us know in the comments.

Also, remember that furniture can often be found at a discount, especially if you cost-compare furniture online, or you’re willing to get furniture second-hand or at discount stores. Or, you can use relatives’ castaways. So, don’t panic about cost and take your time furnishing. [links]

Editor’s note: This checklist was updated in 2018 for accuracy and completeness. The original checklist compiled by Doug ran in May 2013.

Download and print the 2018 checklist here.


This is what guests first see. Just as important, it’s where you clean up from the rain or snow.

  • Area rug or mat (inside the door, for putting wet shoes and umbrellas)
  • Welcome mat (for outside the door)
  • Small table (for mail, keys, etc)
  • Mirror
  • Umbrella holder
  • Shoe storage (especially if you don’t wear shoes indoors)
  • Coat rack or wall hooks (if you don’t have a coat closet)
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________

Living Room

Where you relax, host guests and spend much of your time.

  • Couch, chairs or other things to sit on
  • Coffee Table
  • Stereo/Speakers
  • Lamp(s) (even if there’s an overhead light, they provide better atmosphere)
  • Television
  • TV stand
  • Streaming device (Roku, Chromecast, etc, if no cable)
  • Bookshelves
  • Ottoman
  • Magazine rack
  • End table or console table
  • Throw pillows
  • Artwork
  • Plants
  • Vase (for flowers)
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________


Making meals requires tools, which means a lot of kitchen necessities.

  • Food (check out our Starter Pantry and Staples Checklist)
  • Silverware (including serving utensils)
  • Silverware organizer (drawer insert)
  • Refrigerator (comes w/apartment in U.S.; you need to purchase in many other countries.)
  • Dishes (plates, glasses, mugs, bowls, serving platters, etc)
  • Microwave
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Coffee maker (if you drink coffee – and don’t forget filters!)
  • Coffee grinder (if you don’t buy pre-ground)
  • Pots and pans
  • Oven mitts
  • Spatulas, ladles, whisks, etc.
  • Container for countertop storage of spatulas, ladles, whisks, etc
  • Trash and recycling cans
  • Dish drying rack
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Baking sheets
  • Bottle opener and corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Good quality knives (including bread knife)
  • Dish soap and sponges/scrubbers
  • Hand towels
  • Dish towels
  • Plastic or glass containers for leftovers (e.g., Tupperware, Gladware or Pyrex)
  • Kettle or hotpot
  • Cutting boards
  • Colander
  • Paper towels
  • Peeler
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Hand soap
  • Small wine rack
  • Fruit bowl
  • Additional free-standing shelves or storage as needed
  • Rolls of aluminum foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, parchment paper
  • Zip-top plastic bags
  • Ice cube trays (in U.S., likely comes with refrigerator)
  • Blender
  • Hand mixer
  • Spice rack
  • Spices
  • Airtight containers for staples like flour, sugar, oats, etc
  • Cupboard liners
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________

Dining Area

Your dedicated area to enjoy your meals, it should feel comfortable.

  • Table and chairs
  • Tablecloth or placemats
  • Trivets
  • Candles and candleholders
  • Napkin holder
    • Napkins
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________

Home Office

Whether it’s a corner of your living room, part of your bedroom, or its own room, you’ll sometimes want to get work done.

  • Computer
  • Desk or table that’s an appropriate typing height
  • Chair you can sit on for hours with good typing posture
  • Modem
  • Router to provide your apartment with Wi-Fi
  • Extension cords
  • Surge strips
  • Ethernet cables (as needed)
  • Printer
  • Paper and notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Tape (scotch and packing)
  • Scissors
  • Filing storage/place to put important papers and documents
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________


Your private space, a calm spot to recharge – and where you can most personalize.

  • Bed
  • Pillows
  • Mattress and box spring
  • Mattress pad
  • Sheets, pillow cases and comforter
  • Alarm clock
  • Dresser
  • Hangers (more than you think you need)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Lint roller
  • Night stand
  • Mirror
  • Lamp
  • Hamper
  • Small stereo system
  • Trash can
  • Curtains
  • Artwork
  • Jewelry box
  • Bookcase
  • A fan (particularly if you don’t have A/C)
  • Humidifier
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________


For cleaning and self-maintenance, this room has many personal effects.

  • Shower curtain (and rings to hold it up)
  • Shower caddy (if it’s not built into shower)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Toiletries (bath soap, hand soap, shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, etc)
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet plunger
  • Toilet brush
  • Towels (bath and hand)
  • Bath mat
  • Washcloth
  • Trash can
  • Makeup supplies
  • Makeup holder
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair curler
  • Over-the-counter medication (Advil, Pepto-Bismol, etc)
  • Air freshener
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________

Miscellaneous – Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning is a continuous process. Most of these go in a closet.

  • Rags
  • Paper towels
  • Spray cleaners (e.g., Windex, Mr. Clean, etc)
  • Laundry supplies (laundry soap, fabric softener, stain remover)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Small broom and dust pan
  • Trash bags
  • Scrub pads
  • Rubber cleaning gloves
  • Large broom
  • Bucket and mop
  • Tile cleaner (e.g., Soft Scrub)
  • Duster
  • Watering can (for plants)
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________

Miscellaneous – Safety and Other Necessities

These aren’t glamor objects, but you’ll be glad you have them.

  • Basic toolbox (flat- and Phillips-head screwdrivers, a hammer, a box-cutter, pliers, a wrench and a tape measure)
  • Flashlight(s)
  • Batteries
  • Emergency kit (in case of natural disaster; here’s our emergency kit list)
  • 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)
  • Fire extinguisher (depending on the country, your landlord may be required to provide this. Check that it’s there – and know how to use it!)
  • An electric drill (including drill bits)
  • A level
  • Nails, screws and picture-hanging hooks and wire
  • Window A/C unit (if needed)
  • Duct tape
  • Masking tape
  • Packing tape
  • Storage containers
  • Matches
  • Pet supplies (toys, feeding dishes, food, etc)
  • ______________________
  • ______________________
  • ______________________


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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar Norhart

    It can be overwhelming or a challenge to feel equipped in a new place. When browsing the isles, there are a number of items on the shelves for different purposes. I mean there may be a good reason to buy a banana slicer, but some tings hold more priority over other things.
    Thanks for the suggestions!