Must-Have Items for Your First Apartment

The world is full of endless possibilities after college. You’ll find yourself asking where you want to live, what job you want to take, and even how you want to decorate your new place! That’s why I’m sharing my list of must-have items for your first apartment.

While you probably have a few items from your college days that you want to bring along, sometimes a fresh start is really what you need; but don’t worry, fresh starts don’t always require blowing your budget and breaking the bank.

Below, you’ll find some practical items that will make your first apartment feel organized and cozy – just how it should be.

Moving into your first apartment after college can be an exciting, but overwhelming, experience. Living on your own takes adulting to an entirely new level, and part of that involves getting the essentials. Be sure to check out this list and save it for later!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I will receive a small percentage of each sale that is made (at absolutely no cost to you). Thank you for supporting Chase the Write Dream!

Quality Bath Towels

I was the master of buying cheap bath towels when I was in college. In fact, I clearly remember buying a set of purple ones (that ended up being pink later thanks to ANY face wash I used)… CLEARLY they weren’t meant to last.

When I finally got my first apartment, I knew that I wanted some better bath towels that would hold up better, and feel soft on my skin. I’d recommend adding a few sets to your first apartment checklist so that you have extras on hand in case you have guests over (or you don’t feel like doing laundry sometime).

By the way, don’t forget to pick up some matching washcloths and hand towels to complete the look!

Must-Have Items for Your First Apartment: Kitchen Essentials (Nonstick Pots, Pans, and Baking Dishes/Sheets)

Most college students didn’t have a full kitchen in the dorms, so having your own oven and stove to cook with brings a lot of excitement. In order to get started cooking some of those delicious recipes I know you’ve been saving on Pinterest, you’ll want to be sure to have the right kitchen essentials.

I highly recommend investing in a large nonstick skillet because it’s a versatile piece, and easy to clean! I literally use my skillet for everything: stir fry, one-pan meals, pasta… when I say everything, I mean everything.

Storage Ottoman

Usually your first apartment isn’t full of tons of space, so it’s important to utilize your space in the best way possible.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to invest in a storage ottoman. There are several different styles, patterns, and fabrics available to fit the aesthetic you are going for, so the options are really endless.

Amazon has a ton of great options at a variety of price points.

Cozy Bedding – A Must on Your First Apartment Checklist

Say goodbye to those extra long twin sheets and comforters you had during your college years and step into the world of comfy bedding that makes you look forward to Netflix on the weekends (or weeknights… I’m not judging)!

Depending on the size of your bed, you may need to spend a little extra money to get the style and feel you are going for, but thankfully that are thousands options on the market to choose from.

To check out some cozy comforters that won’t break the bank, click here.


Unless you have no carpet and/or no rugs, then a vacuum is an absolute must-have item for your first apartment. Ideally, you’ll want to vacuum your place at least once a week (maybe more if you have a pet or tend to have bad allergies at certain times of the year).

I’m including some affordable options below that are great starter vacuums!

Food Storage Containers

Are you a regular shopper at the bulk bins in the grocery store? If you’re not, you definitely should be! Not only get you get a variety of raw, non-processed goodies there, but you can often get them for cheaper than what’s available in the aisles.

My only complaint about buying food this way is that I end up with a ton of random plastic bags with no clear way of identifying what’s in each bag, unless I look at it.

Enter these awesome OXO food storage containers that I’ve been using for the past few years. They help keep my pantry organized and keep my goodies from going stale. Win win!

I also just got these Twist n’ Lock Storage Jars that make packing snacks a breeze.


Getting your bedroom set together will not only help make your first apartment feel more like home, but it will also help you get more organized.

Your first nightstand doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but I would recommend getting one that has at least a drawer and some decent space to set your phone and maybe a photo or lamp on (like the one pictured).

Cleaning Supplies

Although not exciting to talk about, you’ll definitely want to add cleaning supplies to your list of must-have items for your first apartment.

Again, don’t feel like you need to buy a $10 bottle of cleaner just for the kitchen, but don’t skimp on the process either. No one likes to live in dirt and germs!

Below, I’m including some of my favorite cleaning supplies – check them out!

Tower Fan

If your first apartment doesn’t have ceiling fans, you’ll definitely want to invest a tower fan to help circulate air, especially during those hot summer months.

(I may also have used my tower fan to help clear out the smoke from the kitchen when I first attempted to make grilled cheese in my place… whoops)

Letter Holder + Key Rack

Trust me – you will lose your keys or an important piece of mail at some point in your life. Do yourself a favor and invest in a simple letter holder/key rack combo to help get yourself a little more organized (and less likely to lose something you need).

The one pictured here is only $12!

While there are many, many items you’ll want to add to your home throughout the years, these must-have items for your first apartment are a great starting point. What else would you add to your list?

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  • Carine
    October 9, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Me and my sister are actually looking at apartments right now, so we’ll definitely be referencing this post once we find the right place!

    -Carine |

    • Tori
      October 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Woo! I hope your apartment search goes well 🙂

  • Michelle @ And Then We Tried
    October 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I would add a nice candle to my must-have list! They really pull together a room! We love the candles from Piece by Paz!

    • Tori
      October 9, 2017 at 10:22 am

      Candles definitely do wonders for making your place smell good (and feel cozy)!

  • Rachel R Ritlop
    October 9, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Cozy bedding is key! that was one of my favorite things about getting my own place! I finally could get the good stuff!

    • Tori
      October 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Yessss, it’s amazing how cozy bedding can make your day so much better.

  • nicholle
    October 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    I have a storage ottoman in my bedroom where I store all my scarves, so useful!

    • Tori
      October 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

      Such a great storage solution (and great for providing additional seating when you have guests)

  • McKenna bleu
    October 9, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Cozy bedding for sure. You did such a great job with this list.

    • Tori
      October 10, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Thanks McKenna! I’m alllll about the cozy bedding, too

  • Jenny
    October 9, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Yes these are all so important! My husband and I need a letter rack ASAP because our mail is everywhere.

    • Tori
      October 10, 2017 at 9:04 am

      It’s so easy for it to just start piling up, especially when you keep getting a ton of junk mail

  • Lily
    October 10, 2017 at 7:21 am

    These are all definite essentials for your first place. I remember moving into my first apartment and feeling completely overwhelmed.
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

    • Tori
      October 10, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Same! I felt completely unprepared lol. It’s such a different experience to actually be on your own!

  • Alex
    October 10, 2017 at 7:35 am

    These are all great ideas! For me it was a vacuum!

    • Tori
      October 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Literally was the biggest thing I forgot on my list when I first moved into my own place!

  • Kayla
    October 10, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    I want to get a key rack/hooks to put by our front door over our shoe rack! Love these tips and am proud to say that Ryan and I have almost of all of these things for our apartment already!

    Kayla |

    • Tori
      October 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

      That’s so awesome. Congrats on moving into your new place by the way! 🙂

  • Azanique
    October 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Cozy bedding is always my suggestions! Such a great thing to have

    -xo, Azanique |

  • Laila
    October 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Super super helpful! I love how you included bath towels because I feel like so many people forget them when they move to their first apartment! Big, fluffy towels are totally a must have!

  • Silvia
    October 18, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Love this list! Cleaning supplies is one I almost forgot about! Except dish soap of course lol

  • Courtney
    July 12, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    My fiance and I are looking for an apartment right now. So I will take this into consideration when moving our belongings in. But how is an ottoman a must-have?

    • Tori
      July 13, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Hi Courtney! I included a storage ottoman here because it can double as storage and seating if you have guests over. Everything is, of course, personal preference 🙂