What things will you need when first moving into an apartment?

August 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm (Apartment Living, Necessary Apartment Items) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Well hey, it’s kind of hard to shop for things for your apartment when you don’t really know what to expect! To be completely honest, I didn’t even do my shopping until AFTER I moved into my apartment for most things because I didn’t want even MORE to pack. But for the sake of the readership, I’ll divide what you’ll need into the categories of the rooms in which they will belong. It’s a generic list of course tailored to my lifestyle. Adjust accordingly!


This is a key area for me because when I have guests over, this is where everyone loves to be. I can make everyone feel more at home with things I can make for them. The better/more supplies I have, the better off I am (or at least it feels that way). To have a workable kitchen, I made sure to have…

1.   Coffee Mugs – Coffee, tea, all delicious!

2.   Glasses – If  you’re not someone who likes to do dishes every few days, perhaps buying a few more to compensate will help you out.

3.   Can opener – I recommend not buying an electric one. It’s tempting, but you can’t use it in power outages and whatnot.

4.   Spatula – Turn burgers, chicken, fries, pancakes, lift cookies, biscuits, slap your boyfriend, etc.

5.   Silverware/ silverware holder/ knives – Silverware is easy to find, but don’t get knives that are TOO cheap. You don’t want them dull after using them for, say, 2 months.

6.   Toaster – Who doesn’t love some crunchy bagels in the morning? Or toast? Or warm, gooey poptarts, or….

7.   Big Serving spoons – These are handy for serving vegetables and fruit or stirring and cooking.

8.   Tupperware – I use it for leftovers and for bringing food to work. These are pretty much a staple of my kitchen.

9.   Dish towels – I guess you don’t HAVE to have them, but I like the convenience of wiping my hands somewhere without worrying about having to buy more (like paper towels).

10. Mixer – For those of you who don’t bake, it’s not a necessity. But I like making baked goods, cakes, etc. So for me? I HAVE to have one.

11. Baking pans – Cookies are pretty okay to cook on them, but I also use them for fries, pizza, and any generic non-liquid situation that is popped into the oven.

12. Pots and pans – I prefer non-Teflon since it’s not the most healthy thing to cook in or on. Try not to get cheap things that won’t last you. If you’re gonna move out, make sure you buy some supplies that are worthy of buying in the first place and will last you a long time. As for sizes, you want a variety. Some frying pans are nice for pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, etc. Medium sized pots are good for cooking veggies, rice, etc. For large ones? Stews, soups, lasagna noodles, etc. For those daring enough, a wok could be added to this area for stir fry!

13. Broom/ swiffer – I have several tiled areas in my apartment and it’s just nice to not have to bend down with a wet sponge and a paper towel.

14. Dish soap – Good for soaking greasy dishes or cleaning things that won’t fit into a dishwasher.

15. Paper towel – This is more functional for me when I need to clean up cat messes and don’t want it on my nice dish towels. But I’ve also used them for window cleaning and small messes on the floor.

16. Tea kettle – I like my instant coffee and I like my tea.

17. Salt/ pepper shakers – I haven’t invested in a true set of my own yet but I have the disposable ones for now and they function just fine. If you want to impress your friends, you can always invest in the grind-it-yourself salt and pepper dispensers. Those are more expensive to buy, and also to refill.

18. Various spices – I’m not a fan of bland food. Oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, garlic, paprika, onion powder, cinnamon, ginger…these are all your friends!

19. Garbage can/ garbage bags – If you don’t plan on buying these things, I would love if you wrote back to enlighten me on how that’s working out for you. Truly.

20. Saran wrap, aluminum foil, sandwich baggies – Leftovers are always abundant in my house and rather delicious the next day when I don’t feel like cooking. Saran wrap keeps it fresh and fancy. Foil is for wrapping my pans in. I HATE cleaning baking pans, so the metal keeps the fry grease off. Though in retrospect it’s probably not too helpful to the environment. Sandwich baggies are good for ANYTHING really. Just handy to have around I suppose.

21. Plates – As one reader pointed out in the comments, yes, they are needed. (I eat on plates, I swear.)

22. Dish dryer – If you find yourself going into an apartment without a dishwasher, you’ll need some place to stick the wet dishes after you’ve washed them.

23. Crockpot – It’s great to just throw some things into a pot, simmer it all day, and have dinner ready when you feel like it! And for those bachelors who think they don’t need one, just WHERE are you going to put those hotwings you’re cooking for when your buddies come over for football?

24. Oven mitts – I have the flat kind, and also the ones that you wear! It helps to have multiples. I also use the flat ones to set pots on when I have guests for dinner and want to set the food on the table.

25. Bowls – Soups and cereals are just FAR too difficult to eat on a plate! Large bowls are good for putting fruit in, mixing ingredients for baking, etc.

26. Microwave – Far easier than firing up the ol’ stove for everything, I wager.

Cleaning Supplies:

Gotta keep the place clean! Probably not much more unsettling than going to a friend’s apartment and it’s funky-not-so-fresh. Plus you don’t want to get sick. If you leave little bits of food in your kitchen, bugs are sure to come. Don’t get off on a bad start to a nasty feeling and looking apartment.Though if you are someone who likes to live organically, shop at your local Whole Foods (or organic store of your choosing) for organic cleaning supplies. (A vinegar and peroxide mixture is my sisters personal favorite.)

1. Windex – For those ever so sparkly windows and mirrors.

2. Laundry detergent/ dryer sheets (or fabric softener) – Gotta keep that slick, sparkling look about you! Plus I don’t want to smell your week-old undies.

3. Bleach cleaner – For sinks, tubs, counter-tops, etc.

4. Toilet cleaner/toilet brush – Yeah about this. I REALLY hate toilets that look like another culture is cultivating itself on the insides of the bowl. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Clean your toilet at least once a week. PLEASE.

5. Vacuum – Don’t buy a cheap one, it won’t last and you’ll get pretty ticked when the belt, bag, suction, etc doesn’t work! Yay http://www.consumerreports.org! They are pretty nifty with helping you find a decent vacuum within your price range.

6. Sponges – General cleaning and kitchen supplies. Who knows if you’ll even have a dishwasher! And you need SOMETHING to wipe the counter.

7. Dishwasher soap – If you’re one of the beautiful people who got one in your apartment. And guess what? Don’t use dish soap as a substitute unless you want foaming soap and water to come spilling out of the sides of your machine.

8. Spot carpet cleaner – You know, for when you spill things on your carpet and don’t want to pay the complex to clean the stain or buy new carpet and charge it to you!

9. Spot laundry stain remover – I really hate it when I’m eating a salad with Italian dressing and a spot gets on my shirt. I love the few clothes that I have, so it’s a huge bummer when a stain ruins them for me! So keep something around for grass, blood, wine, dressing, and various other stains for your poor clothes.

10. Air freshener – Hey, clean air is still in the ‘cleaning supplies’ region. If your grandparents come over and bomb out the bathroom, whip out that Febreeze and have a field day. Go ahead, you earned it.


The bathroom is my source of comfort mostly for the thought that it’s where I can be and don’t need an excuse to be there privately. I take great pains in making sure that I make my bathroom the most comfortable place possible. I pretend I’m thinking of going to a friend’s house and the worse case scenario happens (something like I start my period unexpectedly, I feel sick, I need a makeup overhaul, I need to desperately shower, etc. Just think of experiences where you went to a bathroom needing and hoping beyond all rational thought that they had what you needed for your emergency and they didn’t.) In this, my list will be EXTREMELY biased because I have taken great thought in what would make me and others comfortable and am sure to add those things in my setting. And truly, you spend lots of time in there everyday. You get ready there, relax, use the bathroom, clean, etc. Make it a place worth spending time in.

1. Hand towels – When people wash up, they don’t want to use the towels you used to dry your body with after a shower. They are extremely cheap and you can even buy a nice, full bathroom towel set so that you look like you actually planned a nice looking apartment.

2. Wash cloths – I use shower poofs for my personal cleanliness, but if I have guests, I know better than to not have any of these. There’s nothing worse than being ‘forgotten’ as a guest.

3. Towels – Try not to buy something JUST because it’s cheap. You want a high thread count and have 100 percent cotton towels. If you buy something lackluster, it won’t absorb the water off from your body which is kind of the idea. Be sure to have a couple sets for when you have guests and when your other towels are in the laundry.

4. Air freshener – I can tell you now, after observing people, the one thing they fear is leaving a smell behind when they know others are in the house and will need to use the bathroom too. Don’t give your guests reason to have embarrassment. C’mon! Your (insert parental figure) raised you better! Oust and Febreeze are rather nice brands that I’ve tried and don’t feel guilty recommending. If you’re having a party, light a nice candle in the bathroom and leave it lit for constant air freshening. Be careful though! Make sure it’s monitored or in a safe jar. Another good idea would be having a plug-in air freshener. I ordered some recently from bath and body works and the Moonlight Path scent is heavenly!

5. Rugs – I hate stepping out of a shower wet thinking I’m going to slip on the floor and go smashing face first to my doom. Rugs keep the water contained and keep the bathroom looking nice and well put-together. If you want to be extra snazzy, make the rugs match the towels. I have teal and black towels and black rugs to match. (Even my shower poofs are black and teal!) It’s also nice to have something soft to stand on when I’m standing in front of the mirror every morning to get ready. And when I say rugs, I also mean a snazzy toilet seat cover as well.

6. ‘Shower’ paraphernalia – My apartment complex had a built-in shower rod, but not all of them do. Most large chain (i.e. Walmart) stores have your basic needs: a shower rod, curtain, and rings. Since mine came with a rod already, all I needed was the curtain and rings. My friends had extra rings so they just gave them to me (a package of 12 or so should do the trick). As for the curtain? I didn’t get a decorated fancy one. I got the inner lining to prevent shower water from spraying my bathroom and that was it. I only have one light in my bathroom and shower curtains are fairly opaque. I like to see how I’m shaving and what I’m doing so I simply bought a clear, see through one. It was also labeled antimicrobial. Curtains can get moldy you know! Some places like Bed Bath and Beyond sell curtains that you can wash in your washer!

7. Guest needs – This is the unnecessary part so feel free to skip if you feel so inclined. In order for my guests to feel more at home, I provide basic necessities lest they stay and need things. I keep disposable razors at the ready, spare deodorant, a spare hairbrush/ comb, nail clippers, ibuprofen, Excedrin, shower soap, shampoos and conditioners, hair sprays/ gel, tampons/ pads, a spare toothbrush and toothpaste, spare makeup, and other generic needs as I think of them. I know people don’t HAVE to do these things. But isn’t it nice going to a friends house, realizing it’s too snowy to go home and then having them reply, “Oh don’t worry about anything! We have everything you’ll need.” And the best part would be knowing they are right!

8.  Hand soap – I keep a couple different kinds. My sister is allergic to perfumes so I keep Dove liquid hand soap because it’s free of scent and dyes. On the other hand, some people enjoy having those fruity soaps so I keep the pump-foam soaps scented with apple and berry as well. I hate using  bar soap because of how it leaves residue behind, but that is just a personal preference.

9. Plunger – Be proactive for your own sake.

10. Toilet paper – You know, this is sort of an essential ingredient in the bathroom process! I don’t buy the most expensive kind, but I don’t buy the cheapest either. If it’s on sale and looks fairly decent, I do some prices versus brand versus quantity and quality comparisons and make my decision from there. I also have a handy dandy toilet paper holder as well to keep spares in beside the toilet. I can’t imagine anything much more annoying that being at someone’s house reaching for toilet paper and panicking, realizing there is only 1 square left. And conveniently they store it in their hallway closet or bedroom or something. THANKS.

11. Tissue paper – I can use toilet paper to wipe my nose just like the next girl or guy, but there’s something appealing about having some that’s lotion and soothing to your nose. I keep a fairly decent box around just because I hardly ever use it so expense isn’t an issue. I even have it under a pretty little metal box that matches my other things.

12. Garbage pail – Get a nice, big one too. And keep bags in it. It’s soooooooooooo gross when people use them without bags.

13. Reading material – C’mon, you thought you’d escape this one? You know your dad loves his magazine time. Don’t leave a bored bathroom reader. Put a few fun and unique reads in there (visual puzzle books, short stories, magazines, etc.)


Well, we’re nearing the end of the line now. Let’s keep trucking along to create that great ‘I just moved, am living on my own, and actually know what I’m doing!’ feeling we’re all so desperately craving now. I don’t feel the need to make living room recommendations. That will be up to you for how you’d like your main room to look.

1. Sheets – Sadly I only have 1 set, but rest assured I WILL be getting another soon. Try to wash them every 2-3 weeks or at least once a month. It will keep your room smelling fresher!

2. Laundry basket – I keep my clothes in my room so that’s where I change. It’s handy to just keep a nice basket in there to throw them in.

3. Hangers – My dresser is tiny, so I need tons of hangers to keep my room not looking like a dump.

4.  Bed Spread – I have a nice gold, red, brown, and tan theme going for my room so of course I have a bed spread to match. To be honest, I don’t even USE it unless I need my room looking nice if people are going to see it. I have nice old cotton blankets for all other sleeping occasions.

5. Alarm clock – Getting to work on time is handy to pay for the apartment you’re living in.

Want to add to the list? You know what to do. Have a dispute? I don’t care. Whoops, I mean, please let me know. My hope is this helps you generate ideas for your own ideal living situation. After all it’s going to be YOUR place, YOUR decisions, and all about, well, YOU! Feels good to hear doesn’t it!

User submitted suggestions:

Batteries – Double A and triple A are the most commonly needed ones! Children’s toys need them, as do Wii remotes, portable controllers, etc. And NOTHING is more a pain in the butt that wanting to use something badly and having to run to the store to get more. I use Sanyo Eneloop batteries. They are rechargeable and sold on amazon.com. This site is my SAVIOR. I’ve tried other brands, but after a years time they just don’t hold the charge.

Extension cords – Quite honestly I’m surprised in myself for not remembering to include this on the list. I literally DEPEND on these things.

Scissors – Yes. You will definitely need these.

Kitchen mats – I will agree with adding this. If you’re spending lengths of time in front of the kitchen sink or stove, standing is a pain on your back and feet. Mats will take some of the hurt away. My mom uses carpeted ones in her kitchen, though I’ve also seen rubber washable ones.

Curtains/ Blinds – I’ve seen some apartment complexes that have buildings side by side, facing each other. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my neighbor watching me, no matter WHAT I’m doing.

Toys – No matter who you are, eventually you’re going to have a friend who has kids. And at some point they’re gonna bring those kids over. And how BORING is it being a kid and go to someone’s house and they have nothing for you to do! Disney movies are also your friend if you want to pop one in to entertain the kids for a time.

Tools – I don’t seem to use these as often because I have a great maintainance staff here at my complex. But opening up toys, measuring to fit furniture, and assembling things all need tools like screwdrivers, hammers, tape measures, etc.


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