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Moving into your college apartment this year? Here are all the college apartment must haves you need to buy before moving in.

college apartment must haves

If you are moving into your first college apartment this year, there is a lot of planning and pre-buying to do! I know when I moved into my first college apartment I was super excited but also completely overwhelmed trying to figure out what I needed to buy. 

After lots of online shopping, multiple trips to Target, and living in my college apartment for a year now, I can tell you exactly what you need to buy before moving in! These are all the essentials, decor, and furniture college apartment must haves to buy before you move into your new place. 

I also have a FREE downloadable apartment packing list you can check out here!

This post is all about college apartment must haves.


1. Cooking Supplies

Because you will be moving out of your dorm and into your college apartment, you need cooking supplies for your kitchen! These pots and pans are the exact ones I bought for my college apartment and they have held up really well. They are the best pots and pans you can buy for under $20! 

Make sure you get all the other kitchen utensils including measuring cups, whisks, spatulas, tongs, etc. This set includes basically everything you need to put your new college apartment kitchen to use!

2. Dishes

In order to eat all the yummy food you will be cooking you have to have dishes! Make sure to buy plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and mugs if you are a coffee lover!

I found this set on Amazon that is a super good deal and includes almost all the dishes you need. But, make sure to check the dollar store too! I got all my dishes for a dollar a piece and they're actually really cute. 

3. Bathroom Essentials

Make sure to buy all your bathroom must haves beforehand! Towels, a shower curtain, and bath mats are all absolute essentials to buy before moving in. I would also recommend buying drawer organizers, a toothbrush holder, a plunger, and any other decorative items you want in your bathroom!

4. Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning a college apartment is a lot more work than cleaning a dorm so you will need even more cleaning supplies. A vacuum and broom are college apartment must haves you need to buy beforehand. I also have an entire post dedicated to apartment cleaning that would definitely be helpful for all your cleaning must haves. 

5. Tool Kit

In order to set up your furniture and hang all your cute decor in your new apartment, you will 100% need a tool kit. This is a great set from Amazon that includes absolutely everything you need for move-in day! 

6. Organization Baskets

I bought so many baskets before I moved in and I was so happy that I did. Not only are they great to organize literally everything in your closet, bathroom, bedroom, and living room, they also are a great way to pack! I packed tons of my clothes and other items in my baskets which saved space and made moving in so much easier.

7. Kitchen Utilities

Pretty much all rented apartments come with a fridge but a lot of times they don’t come with other kitchen appliances. Make sure to buy a microwave and toaster before move in! If you really love cooking you may also want a mixer!

8. Fan

If you are anything like me, one overhead fan doesn’t cut it when I’m sleeping. If you want it to be extra cold in your room, buy a floor fan and put it next to your bed.

9. Hangers And Additional Storage

Extra storage is a must in any college apartment. Make sure to buy additional storage containers and use them under your bed or in your closet. This will make things much easier to get to and look a lot more organized. 

Don’t forget clothes hangers too! The velvet hangers are my favorite.


10. Peel And Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper is my new obsession when it comes to renter-friendly decor. You can’t paint walls in a rented apartment so peel and stick wallpaper is the next best thing. You can find peel and stick wallpaper in all different colors and patterns and it totally changes the look of your room. Then, when it comes time to move out, just peel it off!

11. Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are the easiest way to spice up the look of any room in your college apartment. Use them in your bedroom and living room for extra style and comfort. Target, Anthropologie, Home Goods, and Society6 are all great stores to find super cute throw pillows at.

12. Lamps

Lamps should definitely be on your list of college apartment must haves. I recommend buying at least three lamps for a one-bedroom apartment to put in your bedroom, by your desk, and in your living room. There are thousands of cute lamps to chose from so make sure to buy some cute ones to brighten up your college apartment.

I personally hate turning on bright overhead lights and if you are the same way, lamps will be your best friend! 

13. Rugs

college apartment must haves

Rugs totally change the look and feel of any room so you 100% want to buy one for your college apartment. I bought a large rug for my living room in order to cover the ugly hardwood floors and it totally changed the vibe of the room.

Rugs USA has the best rugs for amazing prices so I definitely recommend looking on their website to find a rug you love.

14. Coffee Table Tray

college apartment must haves

My absolute favorite way to decorate is using coffee table trays. These ones from West Elm are stunning and would look so good on any table or countertop. Find a coffee tray you love and decorate it with candles, vases, flowers, or any other small decor items! 

This is not only a great way to decorate but also the best way to keep your tables or countertops organized.

15. Curtains And Rod

Curtains are a must have for any room with windows. When I moved in, I bought sheer curtains that were super cute but after many early mornings being woken up by the sun, I wished I had bought blackout curtains. These blackout curtains from West Elm are super cute and will block out all the sun in the morning.

16. Coasters

college apartment must haves

I am literally obsessed with these coasters from West Elm! Coasters are such a good way to decorate and protect your furniture. 

Definitely buy some cute coasters to decorate your table and coffee tray with!

17. Throw Blankets

Throw blankets are a must have for every college apartment! They make everything look cute and are the best to cuddle up with while watching a movie. No matter what throw blankets you pick out, I definitely recommend buying a few to keep around your college apartment.

18. Vases And Greenery

Greenery and vases are the best way to make your college apartment feel homey but look super classy. Use vases to decorate dressers, tables, and countertops. I bought vases strictly for decor but ended up being so happy I had one on hand when my boyfriend gave me flowers for Valentine’s Day! 

I love these two vase options but have also found some super cute and fairly inexpensive vases at Home Goods too!


If your apartment comes fully furnished, you don't need to worry about buying most of these furniture pieces! But, a lot of apartments don't so here are all the furniture must haves.

19. Bed Frame

First things first, before moving in you need to have a bed frame! If you want a more designer-looking room, this bed frame with a headboard from Target is a great option! But, I know a lot of college students are on a budget so a simple black bed frame like this one from Walmart works just fine and can still be decorated super cute.

20. Mattress And Mattress Pad

This mattress combo is what is on my bed currently and I am telling you, it is absolute heaven! It seriously feels like sleeping on a cloud. If your apartment comes with a bed frame and mattress, I would still recommend buying a mattress topper for extra comfort.

21. Side Tables

Side tables are bedroom and living room must haves that you will be using all the time. Place them beside your couch to put drinks on and beside your bed as a nightstand. 

These side tables are super cute and add additional storage which is great if you’re moving into an apartment with a small closet.

22. Desk And Chair

Since you will be doing homework all the time in your college apartment, you need a desk and chair. I highly recommend buying a comfy chair with padding like this one for those long nights of studying. 

Desks are also great if you like to sit down to put makeup on like me!

23. Couch

Couches are debatably one of the most expensive purchases you will have to make when furnishing your college apartment. But, if you are living with roommates you can split the cost, and each pay way less! This couch from Amazon is perfect for a two-person apartment and is honestly a pretty good price!

Even if your apartment does come fully furnished, you may want to buy washable couch covers to change the look of the couch or to add extra comfort.

24. Coffee Table

You definitely want to buy a coffee table to put in front of your couch! This one from Amazon is reasonably priced and really cute! Decorate your table with candles, coffee table trays, vases, and any other decor you like.

25. Bar Stools

college apartment must haves

College apartments are normally fairly small so you won’t have room or really even use a dining room table. Use bar stools instead to create an eating area that saves space and money.

26. TV Stand Or Mount

Most college students like to have a TV in their living room or bedroom so a way to hang it or somewhere to place it on is essential. You can either buy a TV mount for super cheap on Amazon or use a TV console. Either of these is a college apartment must have to hide TV cords!

27. Dresser

college apartment must haves

If you have space in your bedroom, definitely buy a dresser! These are essential to store items of clothing that you can’t hang up. 

Plus, they look super cute when decorated and can be used to set your TV on if you don’t want to mount it in your bedroom.

This post was all about college apartment must haves.

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