Moving into a new apartment is an exciting moment. But, with all the hustle and bustle, it can get a little chaotic. That’s why it’s so important to keep everything as organized as possible with a first apartment checklist.
From utilities and internet, to dish soap and toilet paper, it is important for your mental and financial health to know exactly what you will need for your new apartment, as well as the associated costs.
I have personally lived in 5 different apartments. So, I know the stress, joy, expenses, pitfalls and nuances of apartment living. The only difference is, I never had a thorough and complete guide to help me through it. So, after years of experience, and hours upon hours of research, I finally put together the checklist I wish I would have had from the beginning.
But, this isn’t your standard list of items to buy. Anybody can go out and create an apartment shopping list. This checklist goes a step further, and gives you price estimates, recommended products, and apartment living tips from my years of experience. When you are finished with this article, you will be fully equipped for your new adventure. So, without further ado, I present the ultimate first apartment checklist.
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Monthly Apartment Expenses
After moving into a new apartment, you will quickly realize that rent is only part of your monthly expenses. You need to heat your apartment in the winter, and cool it off in the summer. And, I’m guessing you will want wifi, so you are going to need to pony up for internet. But how much can you expect to pay for utilities, and how will you be billed? Here is what you need to know.
Please keep in mind that the monthly costs of apartment living can vary greatly by region, personal preferences, and utility consumption. So, these numbers are by no means exact. They are just estimates based on my own experience.
Your new apartment will more than likely have an individual meter to track your electricity and gas consumption, so your bill will vary every month. Also, your electricity and gas bills might come from 2 separate companies. For example, I currently pay my gas bill along with my rent, but my electricity bill comes from a different source. Be sure to ask a leasing agent in your apartment complex, when and from whom, you can expect your gas and electricity bills.
Water/Sewer ($10 – $30)
When you move into your new apartment, you might not see a water and sewer bill come in for a couple months. This is normal. Water bills are almost always 2 months behind. Just check with your leasing office to confirm when to expect your bill, and rest assured you haven’t missed a payment. The good news is, water bills in an apartment tend to be low, because you won’t be paying for things like a sprinkler system, which you would pay if you were renting a house. Though, I recommend you keep your water consumption as low as possible until you see your first bill, and learn what you can expect to pay each month.
Trash (+Valet) ($10 – $40)
In an apartment, you will typically pay your trash bill with rent, and it will most likely run in the $10 – $40 range. This also depends on trash valet, which, if you have never lived in an apartment before, will be a new concept. Trash valet is a service wherein you set your trash outside your door every night, so somebody can come by and take it to the dumpster. If an apartment complex uses trash valet, you will most likely have to pay for it whether you use it or not. So, ask you leasing office about trash valet, and be sure to include it in your budget.
Cable/Internet ($50 – $150)
If you have a smartphone, or a computer, which I’m betting you do–because how else would you be reading this post–then you are going to need to pay for internet. And if you want cable, it’s time to pay for that too. You can expect to pay $75 per month for internet, but we don’t have cable.
If you have the option to go paperless on any monthly bill, I highly recommend you do so. Apartment mail can be a bit of a nightmare. I can’t tell you how many times one of my neighbors has received one of my bills by accident. Do yourself an organizational favor, and choose to receive all your bills electronically. This will make your life significantly less stressful.
The last thing you want in your brand new apartment is a muddy floor, littered with shoes and coats. But you also don’t want to pay through the nose just so people can wipe their feet when they walk in.
So, take a little time to make your entry a welcoming place for yourself and your guests with the following items.
First Apartment Entryway Checklist
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Welcome Mat $5 - $15 Ottomanson Ottohome Collection Rectangular Welcome Doormat Entry Rug $10 - $35 SlipToGrip Jumbo Door Mat Indoor / Outdoor 42"x35" Gray Duraloop Coat Rack $15 - $30 Metal Coat Jacket Purse Rack Shoe Mat $5 - $10 Multi-Purpose Indoor & Outdoor Waterproof Tray
When you move into your first apartment, be sure to pack kitchen supplies in a clear and organized manner. Make the essentials easily accessible, and unpack them as soon as possible. You don’t want to wake up and have to dig through 10 different boxes to find items like: glasses, dishes, silverware, coffee mugs and your coffee maker. Trust me, unpacking with a coffee headache is no fun.
You are going to end up needing a lot of small items in your kitchen; spatulas, a can opener, measuring cups, strainers… the list goes on and on. Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to buy everything at once. Take your time, focus on the essentials, and over time, you will learn what you absolutely need to buy, and what you can live without. (I can’t tell you how long I drained pots of noodles using the lid instead of a strainer.)
My last note about your new kitchen is that having a place to sit and eat is very important. For years, the only place to sit and eat at my apartment was on the couch. It made it difficult for guests to enjoy themselves, and my apartments always felt temporary because of it. So, if you have the room for a little 4-chair breakfast table, I highly recommend getting one. Though, barstools do make a good substitute if you have that option. Just give yourself a place to sit and eat–other than your couch.
First Apartment Kitchen Checklist
Before you move into your new apartment, be sure to buy all the necessary bathroom essentials. Starting from day one, you–and anybody helping you move–will need to use your bathroom in some capacity. So, at bare minimum, go buy some toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels, and kleenex.
Also–I’m just going to say it–don’t wait to buy a plunger. And, if your new apartment only has one bathroom, stop everything you’re doing, head over to Amazon, and buy a plunger right now. You will thank me for this little gem of advice, later. Needing a plunger is enough of an emergency. Don’t make buying one an emergency too.
I also recommend that you buy some bathroom cleaning supplies. A toilet brush, toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner, and a shower cleaning brush should be on your list of bathroom essentials.
Last, but certainly not least, you are going to need to buy a shower curtain; which, in reality, means you will need 3 things: a curtain, a curtain liner, and curtain rings. Be sure to buy all three. You don’t want to be getting ready for work the morning after you move in, and have to take an open, chilly shower, all because you forgot to buy curtain rings.
First Apartment Bathroom Checklist
|Item||How Much Should You Plan To Spend?||Suggested Products|
|Plunger||$10 - $30||Neiko 60166A Toilet Plunger with Patented All-Angle Design|
|Toilet Paper||$10 - $25||Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper|
|Hand Soap||$5 - $15||Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap|
|Hand Towels||$25 - $30||AmazonBasics Cotton Hand Towels|
|Shower Curtain||$10 - $35||AmazonBasics Laurels Shower Curtain|
|Shower Curtain Rings||$5 - $10||Amazer Shower Curtain Hooks Rings, Stainless Steel Shower Curtain Rings|
|Bath Mats||$15 - $50||Absorbent Cotton Hotel Spa Shower/Bathtub Mats|
|Toilet Brush/Cleaner||$5 - $15||Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System|
|Kleenex||$5 - $10||Kleenex Ultra Soft Facial Tissues|
|Wastebasket||$5 - $25||Umbra Skinny Sleek & Stylish Bathroom Trash|
|First Aid Kit||$10 - $35||Johnson & Johnson All-Purpose Portable Compact Emergency First Aid Kit|
When it comes to your bedroom, your initial focus should be on your mattress. If you don’t already have one that you are planning to use, I will give you one piece of advice: buy something high quality. It doesn’t take a giant budget to get a mattress that you love, and a bad mattress will make your life miserable.
To go with your new mattress, I highly recommend a platform bed. Platform beds are great for apartment living, because you don’t have to worry about moving box springs, and they open up some under-bed storage options that you wouldn’t otherwise have with a traditional bed frame.
You will also want to assess the clothing storage options in your new apartment. A dresser is nice to have, but if you have a big enough closet, you might try going without one for awhile. Additionally, nightstands with a couple drawers are a great option for storing small articles of clothing like underwear and socks.
A few final items I highly recommend for your apartment bedroom, are: a lamp, a laundry hamper, and a full length mirror, and a clock. You don’t need to buy these items right away, but they are really nice to have once you get settled in.
First Apartment Bedroom Checklist
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Bed Frame $50 - $250 Zinus Mia Modern Studio 14 Inch Platform 1500H Metal Bed Frame Mattress + Box Springs $300 - $750 Casper Sleep Essential Mattress Night Stands $35 - $250 Furinno 2-11157EX End Table Bedroom Night Stand, Petite, Espresso, Set of 2 Dresser $50 - $200 WeHome Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers Lamp(s) $25 - $75 HAITRAL Bedside Table Lamps - Small Nightstand Lamps Set of 2 with Fabric Shade Bedside Desk Lamps Pillows $20 - $50 COZYDREAM Hotel Quality Pillows for Sleeping [Set of Two] Comforter $30 - $150 LINENSPA All-Season White Down Alternative Quilted Comforter Sheets $40 - $75 Pizuna 400 Thread Count Queen Cotton Sheets Set Laundry Hamper $10 - $35 Simple Houseware Foldable Closet Laundry Hamper Basket
You are going to spend a ton of time in your apartment living room, so have a little fun with it, and make it feel like home.
If you have a big area to fill, a sectional and a tv stand might suit your space well. Whereas, if you have a small living room, you might consider a 2 or 3-seat sofa, with a wall mounted TV.
Regardless of what you decide to do with your space, there are a few staple items you will probably want to have: a sofa, a coffee table, a tv, 2 end tables, and a clock.
First Apartment Living Room Checklist
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Sofa $200 - $400 HONBAY Convertible Sectional Sofa Couch, L-Shaped Couch with Modern Linen Fabric for Small Space Television $100 - $200 Insignia NS-39DF510NA19 39-inch 1080p Full HD Smart LED TV- Fire TV Edition TV Stand $50 - $150 Cross Mill TV Stand TV Wall Mount $30 - $125 AmazonBasics Heavy-Duty, Full Motion Articulating TV Wall Mount Floor Lamp $30 - $50 70inch Modern Standing Floor Lamp End Tables $30 - $100 Furinno 12127EX/BK Simplistic End Table, Espresso/Black, Set of 2 Coasters $10 - $15 Barvivo Drink Coasters Set of 8 Rug $25 - $100 Unique Loom 3134070 Area Rug Clock $10 - $15 Bernhard Products Black Wall Clock, Silent Non Ticking Blankets $10 - $35 Exclusivo Mezcla Luxury Flannel Velvet Plush Throw Blanket
If you are lucky enough to have a laundry room in your apartment, there are a few things you are going to need; most obviously, a washer and dryer (if they aren’t already included with your apartment). Just be careful where you buy them. I am not a fan of buying washers and dryers on craigslist, because you don’t usually get to test them out before you take them home. So, what I recommend, is that you wait to buy a washer and dryer until a holiday weekend. It’s not uncommon to see washers and dryers go on sale for 40%, 50%, or even 60% off.
Oh, and don’t forget about detergent and fabric softener.
Apartment Laundry Tip:
If you have a small-capacity washer and dryer, try to do a small load of laundry every day. It is a pain in the butt trying to catch up on a big pile of laundry when you can only wash 3 pairs of jeans at a time.
First Apartment Laundry Room Checklist
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Washer & Dryer $500 - $1,200 Always shop for a washer and dryer in person, and wait for holiday sales. Detergent $10 - $20 all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear for Sensitive Skin Fabric Softener $5 - $10 Downy Ultra Free & Gentle Liquid Fabric Conditioner Clothes Drying Rack $20 - $35 AmazonBasics Foldable Clothes Drying Laundry Rack
When you live in an apartment, feeling a little claustrophobic at times can be a very real thing. So, if you have a patio, adding some furniture and a little grill can be just the escape you need.
If you have room for a small table and a few chairs, go for it. You can find some cheap options on craigslist all year long.
Also, you should know that apartments tend to hold cooking smells for a long time, so grilling outside will keep your apartment from smelling like 2-day old salmon.
If you do a lot of grilling and you have an electrical outlet on your patio, I recommend a Traeger. They are electric, wood pellet grills that act a lot like an oven, so you can grill more than just meat. You can cook pizzas, desserts, and so much more. You can check them out here.
Otherwise, I recommend a small camping grill. You can find my recommendation in the checklist below.
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Traeger Grill $450 - $500 Traeger TFB29LZA Junior Elite Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker Camping Grill $150 - $250 Coleman Roadtrip 225 Portable Propane Grill Patio Table and Chairs $150 - $250 Flash Furniture Nantucket 6 Piece Patio Garden Set with Table, Umbrella and 4 Folding Chairs
The upkeep and lifestyle of apartment living requires a bunch of random items. Whether you have carpet or hardwood, you are going to need to clean your floors every so often, so get ready to buy a vacuum, or a mop.
Also, if you don’t want to go to work looking like a wrinkly slob, you are going to want to buy an iron and ironing board.
The following checklist contains a bunch of random items that you should have on hand, because you will probably need them at some point in your apartment life. They may not be the most fun items to buy, but trust me, you will be glad to have them.
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Vacuum $75 - $300 Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum for Carpet and Hard Floor with Lift-Away Handheld HEPA Filter, and Anti-Allergy Seal Iron $25 - $50 Shark Steam Iron Ironing Board $50 - $95 Homz Contour Steel Stable Ironing Board Broom & Dust Pan $10 - $25 Broom and Dust Pan Combo Mop $15 - $35 Swiffer WetJet Hardwood and Floor Spray Mop Cleaner Starter Kit Batteries $5 - $15 Double A Batteries
If you plan on hanging pictures, putting together new furniture, or mounting your tv to the wall, you are going to need some tools. The good news is, you don’t need a ton.
Remember, one of the main benefits of living in an apartment is the on-site maintenance crew that is there to fix any problems that arise. But for the items that you put into your apartment, having a few tools laying around will be a major help.
Item How Much Should You Plan To Spend? Suggested Products Utility Knife $10 - $15 WORKPRO Quick-Change Utility Knife Screw Driver Set $10 - $15 Apsung 37 in 1 Professional Screwdriver Set Allen Key Set $5 - $10 DEWALT DWHT70262M Folding Locking Hex Key Set Socket Wrench Set $10 - $20 Egofine 12pcs 1/4 Inch Ratchet Socket Wrench Set Hammer $10 - $15 IRWIN Tools 1954889 Fiberglass General Purpose Claw Hammer, 16 oz Picture Hanging Kit $5 - $15 Assorted Picture Hanging Kit | 220 Piece Assortment with Wire, Picture Hangers, Hooks, Nails and Hardware for Frames Drill $40 - $100 BLACK+DECKER LDX120C 20V MAX Lithium Ion Drill / Driver Drill Bits $5 - $15 Makita B-65399 Impact Gold 14 Pc. Titanium Drill Bit Set, 1/4" Hex Shank Extension Cord $5 - $10 AmazonBasics Extension Cord - 10 feet - US - White Wet/Dry Vacuum $25 - $75 Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum, AA255 Tool Set (Instead of buying individually) $15 - $50 CARTMAN Orange 39-Piece Tool Set
Tips For Your First Apartment Moving Day
When the day finally arrives for you to move into your new apartment, there are a few things you should be sure to do. There is no substitute for being prepared. So here are a few quick tips to help your moving day go smoothly.
Bring Required Documents and Payment
One of the most important things you can do before moving, is to get renter’s insurance. Most–if not all–apartment complexes will require you to carry it, and provide proof of insurance before you can sign your lease.
Also, you may have to have to set up an account with your local gas and/or electricity company and provide an account number at the time you sign your lease.
You may also be required to pay your first payment in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. So, call your leasing office prior to move-in to find out everything you will need to provide on moving day.
Do A Walk-Through
Don’t feel uncomfortable asking to do a walk-through of your apartment before you sign your lease. This is a critical thing to do. You don’t want to sign your lease, only to enter your apartment and find a bunch of things wrong, or broken.
When you walk through your apartment, test every faucet, shower, light switch, light bulb, fireplace, etc.
As an example, when my wife and I moved into our first apartment together, we did a walk through, and found that the counter tops and carpet had not been replaced like we were promised. So, we had to bump our move-in date to one week later than we originally planned.
Take Care Of The People Helping You
If anybody is gracious enough to help you move, it is common courtesy to buy them lunch, and provide snacks and beverages for the whole moving day.
Moving is an arduous task. The last thing you want is for everybody to hate you for not providing water and food throughout the day.
Order a couple pizzas. Take your friends out for a sit-down lunch. Just do something nice for them. They deserve it!