The Ultimate First Apartment Checklist

Fill your first apartment with all the essentials using this comprehensive checklist.

First apartment checklist - guide to what to get for first apartment (printable checklist)
Photo: Getty Images

Shopping for a first apartment isn't easy. You may be leaving your parents' house for the first time; or you may be starting afresh in a new city after graduating college or trading an on-campus dorm room for an off-campus place. Regardless of your life stage, perusing the seemingly endless variety of home furnishings, kitchen tools, and linens can feel overwhelming, especially if you're starting from scratch. To be sure, there are plenty of places to buy tableware online.

The good news is that this is your first apartment and your first time picking these items out for yourself—and it's practically guaranteed that it won't be your last time, so every decision doesn't have to mean a lifelong commitment to a mattress, a duvet insert, or an adorable loveseat that fits perfectly in a small apartment or starter home.

The key is to balance getting everything you need on the first apartment checklist with prioritizing the splurges that are most important to you. You may want to invest in a great dresser for your bedroom. If you're limited on space, a futon could be a more budget-friendly space-saving option than a sleeper sofa. If a powerful vacuum matters more to you than a good toaster, put your money into the vacuum and worry about upgrading your toaster later. And fight the urge to rush. It's true that sleeping on the floor in an empty apartment isn't fun, but it's better than spending money on items you don't actually like. Or items that offend your roommates (this is where the rules for decorating an apartment with roommates come in handy).

As you work through our ultimate first apartment checklist, don't forget to set a little cash aside for the surprising things you'll need for your first apartment—these little luxuries will make your first adult living space a little homier.

Below is our printable, portable first apartment checklist; after that, you'll find a digital version that you can keep on your phone during those all-important shopping trips. With any luck, you'll have your apartment fully stocked before your first lease is up.

The Ultimate First Apartment Checklist

The Ultimate First Apartment Checklist
Getty Images (illustration)

Click for a printable version you can take shopping with you

Bedroom essentials

  • Mattress
  • Bed frame
  • Mattress protector
  • Sheets
  • Spare sheet set
  • Pillows
  • Blanket
  • Quilt/Duvet
  • Nightstand
  • Alarm clock
  • Desk lamp
  • Dresser
  • Full-length mirror
  • Curtains
  • Wall/door hooks
  • Under-bed organizer
  • Hangers
  • Catch-all bin or basket
  • Desk fan
  • Laundry hamper

Kitchen must-haves

  • Medium pot
  • Large pot
  • Small skillet
  • Medium skillet
  • Large skillet
  • Chef's knife
  • Bread knife
  • Paring knife
  • Locking tongs
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Silicone spatula
  • Colander
  • Wooden spoons (slotted)
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Utensils
  • Toaster

Bathroom essentials

  • Bath towel set
  • Bath mat
  • Shower organizer
  • Drain cover
  • Soap dispenser
  • Shower curtain, liner, and curtain hooks
  • Toilet plunger and brush
  • Trash can

Living room necessities

  • Bookshelf
  • Couch/chair
  • Coffee table
  • Coasters
  • Curtains/shades
  • TV
  • TV stand
  • Streaming device
  • Floor lamp

Miscellaneous must-haves

  • Coat rack
  • Doormat
  • Key hook
  • Ironing board
  • Iron
  • Steamer
  • Clothing drying rack
  • Vacuum
  • Broom and dustpan
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