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I've been wanting to share an updated guide to first apartment essentials for so long! I've learned so much since moving twice into two different apartments. Moving into your first apartment is so exhilarating, and such a huge step towards being independent.

first apartment essentials

Okay but don't get so excited that you forget about the money-side of things. You might be wondering how to move into an apartment quickly, but it's expensive to furnish and decorate your new living space!

From furniture to kitchenware, bedding to bathroom essentials, the list seems endless, and the costs can add up fast. It's especially stressful if you're figuring this out on a super tight budget. Managing your finances is so important, so you’ll want to learn what is worth splurging on versus where to find a bargain!

You know me, I'm a huge saver and my tried-and-true trick to avoid financial strain is the dollar store. Yes, you read that correctly! The dollar store is a great place to buy those smaller items, and you can start buying them in advance (so then you don’t have a huge lump of money spent at once).

I dedicated a post to the trendiest apartment decor I’ve found on a tight budget— you can read it here.

By strategically buying essentials from the dollar store, you can stretch your budget further without sacrificing on quality or style. Can I get an amen?

Whether you're furnishing your living room, stocking your kitchen, or sprucing up your bathroom, the dollar store has so many practical and stylish options to suit your needs. The dollar store + learning how to save for a move and creating a first apartment budget = way easier move!

I’m giving you an in-depth look at the essential items you'll need to make your first apartment feel like home, all while keeping your finances in check.

So here's exactly how I recommend to shop for your first apartment so your dream of a stylish first apartment becomes a reality without breaking the bank. 

Popular First Apartment Essentials

  • Furniture: bed, sofa, dining table and chairs, and a storage solution like a bookshelf or dresser.
  • Kitchen Supplies: Pots, pans, utensils, plates, glasses, and silverware.
  • Cleaning Supplies: Vacuum, mop, broom, toilet brush and plunger, all-purpose cleaner, toilet paper, paper towels, and various cleaning agents.
  • Bedding and Linens: Sheets, pillows, towels and blankets.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of decorating your first place!

When it comes to furniture, think about the essentials: a bed to crash on after a long day, a sofa to Netflix and chill, a dining table for those dinner parties with friends, and some storage like a bookshelf or dresser to keep your stuff in organized. No need to panic about the price tags though, places like Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s have some great deals on furniture that won't drain your bank account. And remember, bedding doesn’t have to be expensive, you can find great sheets, pillows, towels, and blankets for cheap if you look around!

Is space an issue? If you have a small apartment, then you’ll want to read this blog post.

Now, onto the heart of your place: the kitchen. You'll want to make sure you've got all the gear to whip up some mean meals. Think pots and pans, utensils, plates, glasses, and silverware. Dollar Tree and Target are lifesavers for snagging kitchen must-haves that won't leave your wallet hurting. So, whether you're cooking for company or just boiling water for instant noodles, you'll be all set.

You know how nutty I am about keeping a space clean and organized right? I recommend stocking up on the essentials: vacuum, mop, broom, toilet brush, and all-purpose cleaner. Dollar Tree's got your back with a stash of affordable cleaning goodies, plus toilet paper and paper towels to keep things tidy. With these supplies on hand, you'll be ready to tackle any mess life throws your way. And if you’re looking for it, this is my ultimate cleaning schedule.

Tip for First-Apartment Renters:

Budget Wisely: I recommend creating a budget that includes not only rent but also utilities, groceries, transportation, and other expenses. You don’t want to be surprised by how much it costs to live. And I also recommend setting aside funds for unexpected costs as well— you never know what can pop up.

First Apartment Kitchen Essentials

These are the first apartment kitchen essentials I swear by! As you set up your apartment kitchen, it's crucial to equip yourself with the cooking necessities and must-haves for a smooth transition. Moving into the kitchen can feel overwhelming! From stocking up on pots and pans to mastering the art of kitchen organization, these are the items you can't forget.

first apartment essentials

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Pro tip: Opt for glass or stainless steel kitchen products as they last longer and are better for the environment.
  • Drinking Glasses, $1 - $10 each
  • Cutlery (Silverware), $10 - $50 for a set
  • Dishes: plates, bowls, and mugs, $20 - $100 for a set
  • Strainer, $5 - $20
  • Utensils (spatula, can opener, etc.), $1 - $10 each
  • Measuring cups, $3 - $15 for a set
  • Cutting Board, $10 - $30
  • Knives, $20 - $200 for a set
  • Paper Towel Holder, $5 - $20
  • Trash can, $10 - $50
  • Mixing bowls, $10 - $30 for a set
  • Food containers, $5 - $20 for a set
  • Oven Mitts, $5 - $20

Total estimated cost: $105 - $605

Want to see my Amazon First Apartment Essentials? Click here!

Tips for First-Apartment Renters:

Start Early: Begin planning and packing well in advance to avoid last-minute stress. Like start buying the smaller items and storing them until your move so you don't have to buy it all at once. Decluttering your belongings and donating/selling items you no longer need is really helpful too, it’s less stuff to move!

Find Free Resources: Take advantage of free moving boxes from local stores or websites like Craigslist, you’d be surprised at how many you find. You can also use items like suitcases, duffel bags, and bins you already own for packing which helps a lot.

Bathroom Essentials

When it comes to bathroom essentials, these are the necessities. Setting up your bathroom in your first apartment can seem boring and unglamorous. After all stocking up on towels and toiletries while maintaining cleanliness and organization... feels like a snooze fest. But it's important so these are my recommendations for stocking your bathroom efficiently and keeping it sparkling clean.

first apartment essentials

Want to shop the items above? Click here!

These are the absolute non-negotiables that you need to have (plus some items that I think will make your life easier).

Pro tip Invest in multi-purpose cleaning products and storage solutions to maximize space and minimize clutter.

  • Toilet plunger, $5 - $20

  • Toilet brush, $5 - $20

  • Shower curtains, $10 - $30

  • Trash can, $10 - $30

  • Shower Caddy, $10 - $50

  • Bath towels, $5 - $20 each

  • Hand towels, $3 - $10 each

  • Hand soap, $2 - $10

  • Toilet paper, $1 - $10 per pack

  • Toothbrush holder, $5 - $15

Total estimated cost: $93 - $215

Personal Hygiene Bathroom Essentials

While it may not seem like a big deal, having all your personal hygiene bathroom essentials when you move in is really nice. From toothpaste to body wash, these are the bare minimum when it comes to products for maintaining personal hygiene in your bathroom.

  • Toothbrush: $1 - $5

  • Toothpaste: $2 - $10

  • Floss: $1 - $5

  • Shampoo & Conditioner: $5 - $20 each

  • Body wash: $3 - $15

  • Loofah (Loufa): $2 - $10

  • Cotton Rounds & Q-tips: $2 - $10 each

Total estimated cost: $16 - $85

Tips for First-Apartment Renters:

Label Everything: You’ll thank yourself later if you clearly label boxes with the contents and the room they belong in. This will make unpacking much easier and faster once you arrive at your new place.

Pack Essentials Separately: Pack a separate box or bag with essential items you'll need immediately upon arrival, such as toiletries, a change of clothes, medications, important documents, and basic kitchen supplies. This is also usually the last stuff you’ll pack when you’re moving out.

Cleaning Supplies

I feel like the queen when it comes to cleaning supplies! From mops to all-purpose cleaners, I'm sharing essential tools and tips for keeping your space sparkling clean.

first apartment essentials

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  • Vacuum: $50 - $500

  • Broom & Dustpan: $10 - $50

  • Mop: $10 - $50

  • Scrubbers: $2 - $10 each

  • Microfiber cloths: $5 - $20 for a pack

  • Duster: $5 - $20

  • Sponges: $1 - $5 each

  • The Pink Stuff: $5 - $15 (price may vary)

  • Cleaning Solutions:

    • All-purpose cleaner: $3 - $10

    • Window cleaner: $3 - $10

    • Glass cleaner: $3 - $10

    • Floor Cleaner: $5 - $20

    • Dish soap: $2 - $10

    • White vinegar: $2 - $5

    • Dishwasher detergent: $5 - $20

    • Laundry detergent: $5 - $20

  • Cleaning gloves: $3 - $10 per pair

  • Cleaning caddy: $5 - $20

Total estimated cost: $99 - $740

Want to see my Amazon First Apartment Essentials? Click here!

Tips for First-Apartment Renters:

Measure and Plan Furniture Placement: Trust me, planning ahead and measuring the dimensions of your new apartment is so helpful when you plan where each piece of furniture will go. This will prevent the hassle of moving heavy items around multiple times, which is a miracle if you don’t have someone to help move things around.

Set Up Utilities in Advance: If you’re like me, this can feel daunting and confusing to get everything in order. But seriously, make sure to set up utilities like electricity, water, gas, internet, and cable well before moving day to ensure a smooth transition.

Living Room Essentials

One of my favorite things to shop for are the living room essentials! Your living room is the heart of your home, and decorating it with the right pieces is key to creating a cozy and inviting space. From comfortable seating options like sofas and armchairs to stylish storage solutions like coffee tables and bookshelves, this is everything you need to make your living room functional and fabulous.

first apartment essentials

Want to shop the items above? Click here!

Pro tip: Mix and match textures and colors to add depth and personality to your space. So, whether you're entertaining guests or enjoying a quiet evening in, this is what you need for the perfect living room retreat!

  • Sofa: $300 - $2000
  • Coffee Table: $50 - $500
  • TV Stand: $100 - $500
  • Television: $200 - $2000
  • Rug: $50 - $500
  • Accent Chairs: $100 - $500 each
  • Floor Lamp: $20 - $200
  • Throw Pillows: $10 - $50 each
  • Wall Art or Decor: $20 - $200 per piece
  • Curtains: $20 - $100 per window

Total estimated cost: $910 - $6150

Tips for First-Apartment Renters:

Inspect the Apartment: Before moving in, thoroughly inspect the apartment for any damages or issues and document them. Like, go over ever inch of the space with a fine tooth comb. This will help avoid disputes when it's time to move out and ensure you’re not paying for something that isn’t your fault.

Get Renter's Insurance: I didn’t know this was something you had to have but a lot of places require it! Protect your belongings by purchasing renter's insurance. It's relatively inexpensive and provides coverage for theft, damage, and liability.


I feel like I’ve been obsessed with bedroom essentials since decorating my dorm room in college. And thankfully my taste has elevated over the years, ha! Your bedroom is your personal sanctuary, a place to unwind and recharge after a long day. To create that special nightly escape, you've gotta think about comfortable bedding, storage solutions, and soothing lighting. It's all about making the vibes good. From a supportive mattress and soft sheets to stylish nightstands and ample closet space, these are the items I recommend for creating that perfect unwind space.

Things to do before moving into a new apartment Reddit

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Pro tip: Opt for calming color palettes and clutter-free layouts to promote restful sleep and a peaceful ambiance. Let's make your bedroom dreams a reality!

  • Bedframe: $100 - $1000
  • Nightstand: $50 - $300 each
  • Dresser: $100 - $500
  • Pillows: $10 - $50 each
  • Bedsheets: $20 - $100 per set
  • Mattress: $200 - $2000
  • Mattress Topper: $50 - $200
  • Duvet & Duvet Cover: $50 - $300
  • Curtains & Curtain Rod: $20 - $100 per window
  • Laundry Basket: $10 - $50
  • Hangers: $5 - $20 per pack

Total estimated cost: $615 - $4420

Tips for First-Apartment Renters:

Get to Know Your New Neighborhood: Take some time to explore your new neighborhood before moving in. Familiarize yourself with nearby grocery stores, bars, restaurants, public transportation options, and other fun spots. Especially if you’re moving into a new city, it’s nice to know where things are and it will make you feel more at home quicker.

Basic Supplies

And lastly, I can’t forget the basic supplies! Maybe you love DIY or just need something for little household projects, but having the right tools on hand is essential. From assembling furniture to hanging pictures, a well-stocked toolkit can make all the difference. I believe that these are the must-have items: screwdriver sets, hammers, measuring tapes, pliers, flashlights, and step ladders.

first apartment budget

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Pro tip: Invest in quality tools that will last you a lifetime and consider storage solutions to keep your toolkit organized and easily accessible. With the right basics, you'll be ready to tackle any project that comes your way!

  • First aid kit: $10 - $50

  • Tool kit: $20 - $100

  • Fire extinguisher: $20 - $100

  • Drill: $30 - $200

  • Command Strip Hooks: $5 - $20 per pack

  • Flashlight: $5 - $30

  • Small Step ladder: $20 - $100

Total estimated cost: $110 - $500

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