Apartment Checklist: 44 Things to Make Your First Apartment Feel Like Home

Moving into your first college apartment is such an exciting time, especially after living in a dorm. An apartment gives you so much more space and the convenience of a kitchen.

If you’re moving into a new apartment, here’s my checklist of things that you will need (or want). There are many things you might already have from your dorm but others you might not have thought of. Also, if you’re living with a group of people, it’s a good idea to agree on who is bringing which items so there are no duplicates and to split up the costs.

When you move into your first apartment there is a long checklist of things you will need (or want.) (Shutterstock SeventyFour)

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First apartment checklist

Renters Insurance

Before you’re able to move into your apartment, your landlord might require you to get renters insurance. Lemonade is a fast and easy option. Plus, if you have a car or a pet, you might be able to bundle your discounts. Learn more about Lemonade here.

Kitchen essentials

1. Keurig Coffee Maker (Amazon)

Keurig mini

If you love coffee, you’ll want to buy a coffee maker. In my freshman year, I got all of my coffee from the dining hall, but after freshman year, I used the same coffee maker for the next three years of college.

You won’t have to go to the coffee shop if you have a coffee craving, saving you time and money. Keurig makes one that is very narrow and is available in six great colors. It is the #1 single-serve coffee maker on Amazon.

2. 18-Piece Corelle Dinnerware Set (Amazon)

You’ll need to buy dishes for your first college apartment. I recommend durable ones if you live with a group of people and don’t want to worry about anything too fragile.

This set of six each – dinner plates, bread and butter plates and bowls – is a great choice as they are microwavable and dishwasher-safe. Plus, white will go with any other serving pieces your roommates might have which is a plus if you have people over for dinner. This is a highly recommended choice and is #1 bestseller in dinnerware sets on Amazon.

3.  Cuisinart 12-Piece Multiclad Pro Cookware Set (Amazon)

Pots and pans are necessary for preparing meals now that you’ll no longer eat at the dining hall. How will you make mac and cheese, pasta, or your favorite omelet without pots and pans?

This Cuisinart stainless steel cookware set includes a 1.5 Quart saucepan with cover, 3 Quart saucepan with cover, 3.5 Quart sauté pan with helper handle and cover, 8 Quart stockpot with cover, 8″ skillet, 10″ skillet, 20cm steamer insert. Recommended by Good Housekeeping as one of their top five cookware sets. You can buy cheaper pots and pans but these are durable and they have a limited lifetime warranty for defects, too.

In addition to a cookware set, get one nonstick skillet if you plan to cook eggs or pancakes. This Tramontina nonstick skillet is highly recommended.

4. Oneida 42-Piece Flatware Set (Amazon)

Flatware is another kitchen essential for a college apartment. You’ll need flatware for almost every meal and can reuse it for years. This set contains (8) dinner knives, (8) dinner forks, (8) salad forks, (8) dinner spoons, (8) teaspoons, (1) serving spoon, and (1) serving fork.

Having a few serving pieces that match is nice, plus this set includes two sizes of spoons which is what I find I use the most.

5. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set (Amazon)

This set of five mixing bowls are all graduated sizes so they can be stored easily. Not only can you use these for food prep, but they can also be used as serving dishes so are very functional must-have things for your apartment kitchen.

These are #1 ranked on Amazon.

6. OXO Good Grips Cutting Board Set (Amazon)

You’ll be doing more cooking than you did in your dorm so make sure that cutting boards are on your apartment checklist. These are top of the list by Good Housekeeping and being able to put them in the dishwasher is key, especially after you use them for food prep for meat, chicken, or fish.

7. Measuring Cups (Amazon)

Measuring cups are essential for apartment kitchens and this Pyrex set is safe to put in the dishwasher, oven and microwave making them more functional than measuring cups made out of different materials.

8. Brita Water Pitcher (Amazon)

A Brita water filter is essential to avoid having to buy bottled water. When I first moved into my apartment, I tried using jugs of water, but a Brita is more convenient and much better for the environment. This one is a slim model that is only 4 inches wide.

9. Hamilton Beach Toaster Oven (Amazon)

Using a toaster oven is sometimes more convenient than a larger oven if just heating something small. This one won’t take up too much room when countertop space is at a premium. The New York Times Wirecutter product reviewers gave this toaster oven top reviews for their budget pick. 

10. Dish Towels (Amazon)

Outfitting your kitchen with essential gadgets will make a big difference when cooking. Oven mitts, dish towels, a can opener, a spatula, corkscrew, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, and spices (especially salt and pepper).

11. Cleaning Supplies (Amazon)

Cleaning supplies are always handy to have! Especially if you are living with others, having cleaning supplies in the kitchen is so helpful so people can clean up after themselves. You want to include paper towels, garbage bags, a mop, a broom, an all-purpose cleaner, Lysol wipes, sponges, hand soap, and dish soap

Living Room Essentials 

12. Roku 32″ Select Series 720p HD Smart (Amazon)

Having a TV makes living in an apartment more cohesive. My housemates and I tried to do a movie night at least once a month where everyone was there and with lots of snacks.

This Roku TV gets excellent reviews in the smaller size category by The New York Times Wirecutter reviewers.  

13. Convertible Sofa (Pottery Barn Teen)

You don’t need a super expensive couch for your apartment, just something comfortable that seats more than one. This one functions as a sofa but can also be converted into a sleeper sofa which is convenient when we have friends stay with us. It’s available in 10 different fabric choices.

14. Coffee Table (Amazon)

A coffee table is a convenient place to serve snacks while watching TV, bringing the living room together. 

15. Area Rug (Pottery Barn Teen)

Area rugs are an easy way to add color to the living room and can often brighten the room. Most apartments are painted in neutral colors, so find a rug in colors you like. Washable ones can be a smart pick if small enough to fit in a washing machine.

16. Lepower Wood Floor Lamp (Amazon)

Having extra lighting is very useful for the living room. A floor lamp is a great alternative to brighten the space, especially if no window is nearby. 

The tripod design of this one makes it sturdy and the linen lampshade is included. This is a Wirecutter top pick.

17. Black & Decker Cordless Stick Vacuum (Amazon)

A vacuum cleaner is essential for cleaning up your apartment’s dirt, food crumbs, and dust. Especially if you live with other people, apartments tend to get dirty much faster than expected, so having a vacuum cleaner is a must-have. 

Bedroom Essentials

18. Zinus 12 “Green Tea Mattress (Amazon)

A bed frame and mattress are essential for your apartment! The good news is that you will probably reuse these for the next three years.

Zinus has well-priced and top-rated mattresses shipped in a box right to the apartment. Their bed frames work well, too.

19. Sheet Set (Amazon)

If you previously lived in a dorm and slept on a TwinXL bed, you will have a larger bed in your college apartment and will need some new sheets. Good Housekeeping chose the Mellanni sheets on Amazon as their best value pick and it is easy to see why. There are loads of pretty colors and patterns and they are well-priced, too.

20. Washed Rapids Quilt and Shams (Pottery Barn Teen)

Bedding is a great way to brighten up your bedroom. You can choose your favorite colors or a great pattern and add accent pillows. If you have room for a queen-size bed in your apartment, the linens you get for your new home can last you for many years — unlike the Twin XL you might have bought for the freshman dorm. 

This bedding is 100% cotton denim, available in three colors, and machine washable.

21. Vera Wang Blanket (Amazon)

Depending on your climate, you might need an extra blanket for your bed. I love these 100% cotton waffle weave blankets from Vera Wang.

22. Desk (West Elm)

You’ll want to have a desk in your bedroom for studying. I also used my desk for eating meals if I didn’t feel like eating in the kitchen. This one is available in two sizes and several nice colors.

23. Desk Lamp (The Container Store)

Extra lighting is often needed in college apartment bedrooms, and a task lamp helps read textbooks while studying at your desk. This slim, energy-efficient charging lamp is ideal for a desk or bedside table.

It even includes three brightness settings and the platform is a wireless charger for your phone. Don’t forget extra light bulbs.

24. Furmax Office Chair (Amazon)

Having a comfortable desk chair is so important. Especially if you plan to study at a desk, you want to feel snug. Good Housekeeping named this one their top value chair in the older version ($29) but this one that is the newer version is also well priced.

25. Drying Rack (Amazon)

A clothes drying rack is an excellent idea if you don’t like putting delicate clothes in the dryer. I used my drying rack every time I did laundry, and it was particularly significant for leggings and sweaters that might get messed up in the dryer.

This drying rack collapses flat when not in use. Top pick by the editors of Good Housekeeping.

26. Belle Nightstand (West Elm)

A nightstand is convenient for keeping things beside your bed within arm’s reach. I usually kept a water bottle, lotion, chapstick, and tissues on my nightstand. This one has an upper drawer and two fixed shelves; available in two trendy colors – haze and dark bronze.

27. simplehuman Open Top Trash Can (Amazon)

A small trash can in a bedroom is nice because it lets you throw out more minor things without leaving your room. This one is brushed stainless steel and has a rectangular shape which would work well near a desk.

28. Full-Length Mirror (Amazon)

You want a full-length mirror in your bedroom to see your entire outfit. 

29. Hangers (Amazon)

You’ll need hangers for your closet! I ended up hanging up most of my clothes in my apartment because there was not enough space for a full dresser. 

30. Poppin Storage Ottoman (The Container Store)

Storage ottomans are super convenient for storing smaller items. This one can also be used as a side table or as a stool for extra seating. Available in three pretty colors. 

31. Under-Bed Storage Bins (The Container Store)

Under-bed storage helps organize things in a college apartment. Under my bed, I stored many items that were not used daily, such as a hairdryer, medicines, or extra sheets and towels. 

32. Tapestries (Pottery Barn Teen)

Tapestries are an easy way to decorate a wall in your bedroom. Pottery Barn Teen has some of the cutest tapestries with some super unique designs. 

33. String Lights (Pottery Barn Teen)

string lights

Another way to add personality to your room is to have decorative lights. String lights are great for movie nights or late-night studying. These are called “Ombre Purple Waterfall” which makes the lighting more like wall art than one-color string lights.

34. Anker Surge Protector (Amazon)

Many college apartments don’t have many outlets, so extension cords or power strips/surge protectors are crucial. A surge protector with space for both plugs and USB ports is convenient for charging your phone and computer in bed or at your desk.

It is also a much safer way to protect your expensive electronics than a flimsy extension cord. This one has 8 AC outlets, 2 USB-A ports, and 1 fast charging USB-C port. 

Bathroom Essentials

35. Over-the-Door Hooks (Amazon)

There might be wall hooks in your bathroom, but there are never enough, especially if you share with a roommate. Over-the-door curves are perfect for hanging up towels or robes after showering.

36. Eagle Creek Toiletries Bag (Amazon)

toiletries bag

You might have enough room for basic toiletries in a cabinet or under the sink if you have a bathroom. Having enough counter space for your toothbrush holder and toothpaste is optimal, but if not, you may have to use a shower caddy or toiletries bag to store things in your bedroom instead of the bathroom.   

37. Shower Curtain (Amazon)

Make sure to buy shower curtains for your bathroom. I forgot to buy this before moving in and had to buy it after arriving at the apartment.  

38. simplehuman Wastebasket (Amazon)

Having a small trash can in your bathroom is necessary. The simplehuman trashcans are my favorite.

39. Towels (Amazon)

Several bath towels and hand towels are handy because you can alternate without doing laundry. You’ll need to have a bath mat in the bathroom, too. These 100% Turkish cotton towels come in many pretty colors and top the Good Housekeeping list of favorite towels.

40. Toilet Paper Holder (Amazon)

Many older apartments do not have a toilet paper dispenser attached to the wall. If so, many toilet paper holders are available on Amazon. I like this one because you can store several roles conveniently in your bathroom.

41. Laundry Hamper (Amazon)

It’s so nice to have room in the bathroom for a laundry bag or hamper for dirty clothes. Otherwise, you will have to find a spot in your bedroom. 

42. First Aid Kit (Amazon)

first aid kit

Having a first aid kit with disinfectant, bandaids, and other basic first aid supplies is a good idea.  

Other essentials

43. Cartman Toolkit (Amazon)

tool kit

A toolkit with a hammer, screwdriver, and nails for hanging pictures will be handy. This one has 39 pieces, covering almost all basic repairs and assembly projects

44. Maglite Flashlight and Extra Batteries (Amazon)

While you can use your phone as a flashlight, you will want to have a real flashlight with extra batteries in case of an actual emergency.

Living in an apartment will be a fun experience, and moving is much easier if you have a list of items you need. These are some of the main essentials needed when living in your place for the first time. Good luck with moving!

Prices accurate at time of publication.

Why You Can Trust Us

Hi! I’m Madeleine, a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara. I’ve shared an apartment with housemates and understand what essentials are needed to make a cohesive living space and a home away from home. I made sure that my college apartment felt comfortable and cozy, had a space for studying, and had enough kitchen supplies to be able to cook all my favorite meals.

My brother is a sophomore at DePaul University, and I have also helped him pick out items for his apartment. Additionally, I’ve researched Good Housekeeping and Wirecutter for the top picks of items I wish I would have had in my apartment.

More Great Reading:

Top 12 Dorm Room Essentials for Freshmen

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After graduating, she worked in marketing for a cybersecurity company for a year and a half. For the past year, she has been traveling the world while volunteering in hostels. Starting this fall, she will be teaching English in Spain. To learn more, here are her social media accounts: TikTok and Instagram. She loves writing and creating videos and really enjoys working for Grown and Flown!

Read more posts by Madeleine

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