Tips & Guides / Apartment Life

What Do You Need in Your First Apartment?

By Bri Hand | Mar 7, 2022
Woman sits in her new apartment surrounded by moving boxes

Moving into your first apartment is a momentous rite of passage in the brave new world of adulthood. Not only will you fill your new digs with invaluable new experiences, but you’ll also need to fill it with furniture and amenities suited to your lifestyle.

This guide will show you how to furnish an apartment, itemize all the first apartment essentials you’ll need to make your new apartment home, and offer a few ways to save in the process:

Your first apartment checklist: What to buy

There are five main categories of furnishings you should expect to cover when moving into a new apartment: 

  1. Bedroom
  2. Bathroom
  3. Kitchen
  4. Living room
  5. Maintenance supplies

Read on for a handy list of first apartment essentials to get situated in your new place:

1. Bedroom essentials

As the place you go to retreat and restore, your bedroom should be set up for maximum coziness. As part of your first apartment checklist, you’ll need:

  • A mattress and bedding: Getting your hands on a mattress is a top priority when decorating your bedroom. You should also have at least two sets of bedding, including fitted sheets, pillows and pillowcases, and a cozy blanket.
  • A bed frame: Bed frames can be expensive, but keeping your mattress on the floor attracts more dust and debris, making your room more difficult to clean and even prompting allergies. A bed frame is an essential item because it will also lengthen the lifespan of your mattress, ensuring months and years of solid shut-eye. You can even sneak in some more under-bed storage with the right bed frame or box spring.
  • Clothing storage: A dresser can double as storage space for both clothes and miscellaneous items you have on hand so they don’t wind up littering the floor of your room.
  • Curtains: Make sure any windows in your bedroom can be covered so no neighbors catch a glimpse of you swanning around your room in a towel headdress. Curtains will also help you mitigate ambient light from outside and improve your sleep quality.

After you’ve secured the barest of necessities, you’ll want to budget for the following furnishings to make your bedroom feel more like home:

  • Bedside table or nightstand
  • Bedside lamp
  • Desk and desk chair
  • Laundry hamper
  • Rug
  • Extension cords

Last, if your quarters are feeling cramped, consider splurging on a full-length mirror to create the illusion of more space and natural light.

2. Bathroom essentials

Starting on move-in day, make sure to adequately furnish your bathroom so you can rinse off after a long day of hauling boxes. The first apartment necessities you’ll need are:

  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Washcloths
  • Shower curtain
  • Bath mat
  • Toilet plunger

Once you’ve covered all your bathroom necessities, the next order of business on your first apartment checklist is to stock up on toiletries. You’ll need:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Body soap
  • Facial cleanser
  • Moisturizer or lotion
  • Brush or comb
  • Hand soap
  • First Aid kit

3. Kitchen essentials

A well-stocked kitchen will be the hearth of your new apartment. Bear in mind that amassing an artillery of kitchen tools takes time, so make a list of your go-to meals and what you’ll need to prepare them before splurging on something like an immersion blender.

We recommend renters account for the following kitchen essentials:

  • Dishware: Be sure to introduce some utensils, glasses, cutlery, and a mug or two to your kitchen to get started. Don’t forget to pick up a few sponges and paper towels, as well as dish soap, dish detergent, and dish towels for when it’s time to clean up.
  • Kitchenware: Kitchenware basics for your first apartment include a cutting board, a solid set of knives, non-stick frying pans, and a few pots to prepare simple meals like eggs or pasta.
  • Appliances: The appliances you’ll need will depend on what apartment amenities are already built into your kitchen. Depending on your dietary preferences, consider investing in a microwave, toaster oven, and coffee maker to save money on breakfast runs in the first weeks after move-in.
  • Trash and recycling: Unless you have a pre-installed trash can, be sure to order medium-sized trash cans and recycling receptacles, as well as an adequate supply of trash bags.

You can also keep the following items on hand to enhance your kitchen experience:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Food storage containers
  • Water filter
  • Spatulas or wooden spoons
  • Baking trays
  • Oven mitts
  • Measuring cups
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Step stool

Finally, no kitchen is complete without staple pantry items that can let you whip up a morsel in a pinch. Salt, pepper, and olive oil can make any meal that much more appetizing—even if you’re just living on eggs and toast for the first few days after your move.

4. Living room essentials

Several furnishings can make a common space feel warm and inviting, but your best course of action is to prioritize the items that are most important to you. Here are some apartment essentials to think about:

  • Seating: Unless you’re partial to bean bag chairs, you’ll want a sofa and chairs that you can cozy up in or use to kick back with friends. Throw pillows can also greatly enhance the living experience and give your living room that cozy aesthetic. Given the steep price tag of most seating options, consider scoping out consignment furniture to thrift around for a piece you like. Wherever you buy your seating, never make a purchase before you’ve measured out the dimensions that your new apartment can accommodate.
  • Lighting: If you’re on a budget, lighting may be the least of your worries. Even so, if spending on decor isn’t in your budget for now, never underestimate the power of good lighting to transform any living space. A cozy couchside lamp with a dimmer or a neatly mounted string of fairy lights can work wonders and warm up the room before you get the chance to add some personal touches.
  • Dining: Everyone has wolfed down at least one rushed meal leaning over the sink, but you certainly don’t want that to become a habit. No need to buy a full dining set, but do have extra dishes, a small table or coffee table to dine at, and two to four chairs. 
  • Storage: Unless your first apartment has sufficient built-in storage, order some shelving units. The most affordable options are build-it-yourself fixtures from stores like IKEA—with the bonus of giving you bragging rights since you technically “built it yourself.” You can also find some great over-the-door hooks to store jackets or even shoes.

Perhaps more than every other room, your living room may take the longest to set up to your liking. While it’s hard to make an empty room feel homey, remember there’s no need to rush to purchase furniture with steep price tags before your budget is ready to handle it.

5. Cleaning supplies

To protect your furnishings and keep your new home in top form, cleaning supplies are one of the most important categories on your first apartment checklist. These are the main household essentials you should have on your list:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Laundry detergent
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Multi-purpose and multi-surface cleaner
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toilet brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tile cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Surface disinfectant
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Mop
  • Bucket
  • Large sponges
  • Baking soda
  • Light bulbs
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Fabric softener

Lastly, help yourself to a large canister of white vinegar, one of the best multipurpose (and wallet-friendly) cleaning basics you can use to disinfect, beat foul odor, and polish everything from your windows to your toilet.

Tips for saving when furnishing your first apartment

While moving into a brand-new unfurnished apartment for the first time provides a clean slate for you to work your interior decorating muscles, it should come as no surprise that it takes an impressive amount of time, energy, and funding to get your new place up and running.

If your heart is set on going the unfurnished route, here are a few tips to give your bank account a breather while you make your house a home:

  • Prioritize your purchases: First, decide how much you’re willing to spend each month to furnish your first apartment. Then, make a complete list of every item you need, and split them into four columns: “A” (for first-priority items) to “D” (for the least important). Depending on how many furnishings you need to buy, it may take more time (and more columns) before you’re able to purchase everything on your list.
  • Do your research: There are myriad businesses that specialize in consignment furniture—both brick-and-mortar and online establishments. While you may be willing to pay top dollar for a new mattress to sleep on, identify the items you’d be willing to thrift to save in the long run. There’s no harm in reaching out to a consignment business owner to see if they’d be willing to negotiate on price based on the competition!

Finally, bear in mind that any furniture you purchase can be a real pain to haul to your next apartment—or another city—in the event that you want to move. If you do decide to part with a piece, remember that secondhand furnishings rarely earn back the amount you originally paid for them.

Settle in seamlessly with Landing

Moving into your first apartment is undeniably a liberating experience—and it also tends to be one of life’s biggest learning curves, especially if you’re starting from scratch. 

With Landing, not only will you not have to worry about the steep costs of furnishing a whole new place with our network of fully furnished apartments, but you’re also guaranteed a stress-free move into a high-quality property that’s in tip-top shape.

Make yourself at home with Landing and browse our furnished apartments today.

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.