Apartment Move-in Checklist - Roost
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Apartment move-in checklist

Everything you need to outfit your new place

You’re ready to move into your first apartment, and now you’re starting to think about everything you need to live comfortably. Handsoap. Mixing bowls. A first aid kit. Even a plunger. When you start to look around, you’ll notice that there’s actually quite a bit you’re likely to need. Getting organized with an apartment move in checklist ahead of time will help you prioritize the most important items without blowing through your budget.

We’ve pulled together some handy apartment move in checklists below. Another great option is to start adding things to a list app like Evernote, Google’s Keep Notes or Apple’s Reminders. For things you choose to buy in-person, save yourself some time by organizing the items on your list by section. This will help you avoid running back and forth all over Target when you’ve left the first aid section but forgot a box of band aids.  

The essentials for your first apartment

We’ll organize everything you need by room a little later on, but if you’re moving in now, here are the things you’re most likely to need right away.  

Kitchen supplies

Paper plates will work for a little while, but it’s best to get some basic dinnerware plates and storage containers early on. You can grab most of this at Target, and they usually have some pretty nice looking stuff at reasonable prices (expect more, pay less, right?). You can also grab these from Walmart. (If you want to shop around online, of course, check Amazon. But Target offers most of their selection online, and their site is pretty easy to navigate.)

Your bedding

This one may seem a little obvious, but we aren’t talking about the bed frame and mattress (though you need those, too). We’re talking about bedding and pillows. More specifically: mattress covers, sheets, a comforter, pillows, pillow cases, and maybe some extra blankets if your apartment runs a little cold. After a long day of moving, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to have your bed all made up and ready for you. 

Roost Tip! Check our review of the best mattresses for apartments.

First-aid supplies

When you’re moving heavy things around, breaking down moving boxes, and just generally wearing yourself out, you’re more prone to injury. Hopefully it won’t be anything major, but best to be ready in case your back starts complaining and you need some Ibuprofen. Or you slice your finger, and though it looks like a murder scene, you just need to apply some pressure and a band aid. Here’s what you should have on hand:  

Bathroom essentials

We might put these at the very top of the apartment move in checklist. You just never want to be in a situation where you don’t have toilet paper when you need it. Never ever. Grab these from Amazon or Target:

Cleaning supplies

Hopefully your landlord made sure your apartment was thoroughly cleaned before you moved in. But chances are good you might find a few spots that need a little more work. And frankly, you’ll be needing all these supplies later on anyway. 

The “Absolute Essentials” Checklist

THE ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS
Kitchen EssentialsRolled Bandages
Forks, knives and spoonRash cream
Cups and mugsInsect bite/sting relief
PlatesSafety pins/sticky tape
BowlsBathroom Essentials
Plastic storage containersToilet paper
NapkinsHand soap
Bedroom EssentialsToothpaste and toothbrush
MattressDeodorant
BedframeBody wash, shampoo, conditioner
SheetsCleaning Essentials
ComforterMop and broom
PillowsDisinfectant spray/wipes
First-aid EssentialsDishwasher and laundry soap
BandagesToilet bowl cleaner and brush
Anti-infected ointments Plunger
Painkillers Air Fresheners
GauzePaper towels

Kitchen and dining room essentials

Unless you only eat out (budget breaker alert!), you’ll need some cooking supplies and a place to sit and eat.

Dining table and chairs

Before you start shopping, measure how much room you actually have. If you’re tight on space, check out some of the tables that have extensions. You’ll be able to add seating when you need it but keep it compact for everyday living. A great way to add extra seating to your kitchen is to get a couple of bar stools to sit up against the counter. Overstock has a number of pretty affordable dining sets. Some of the expandable sets from Target are pretty good looking, too.

Pots, pans, and bowls

Whether you’re an experienced chef or usually cook mac and cheese, we recommend grabbing some of the basics no matter what. You’ll want to a saucepan, frying pan and large pot at the very least. If you can splurge, look for a complete set and get cooking. Make sure you also have a few different sizes of mixing bowls. If you want to shop from home, check out Amazon for more options. If you’d like to spend some time inside a massive store and get both lost and fully outfitted, consider Ikea.

Cooking utensils

If you’re going all minimal, fingers will work for eating, but they’re not very effective at cutting. We recommend you grab a set of the basics below. (Pssst. You can usually find great deals on Silicone Cooking Kitchen Utensils bundles like this one at Amazon.) 

  • Spatula, whisk, mixing spoons, and serving spoons
  • Various knives (cutting, paring, etc) and cutting boards
  • Aluminum foil and cling wrap
  • Strainer/colander

General kitchen items

You moved in, you woke up in your new place, you head for the kitchen to start the coffee maker and… it’s not there. Disaster! Avoid it. Keep your eye out for deals on all of the following items off your apartment move in checklist:

Kitchen and dining room checklist 

KITCHEN AND DINING ROOM
Dining tableAluminum foil
ChairsCling wrap
Pots and pansStrainer/colander
BowlsCoffee maker
SpatulaTea kettle
WhiskToaster
Mixing and serving spoons Blender
Knife setPaper towel holder

Bathroom essentials

Make sure your bathroom is completely stocked and ready to go with our apartment move in checklist as soon as you move in. You’ll be sweaty from moving and want a shower. We’re sure of it. 

Shower curtain

Nearly everybody forgets this one. Walmart and Target both have great options. You can get something super basic that simply keeps the water out or shop from a variety of styles to tie your bathroom decor all together. (This shark one will really wake you up in the morning. Or maybe leopard print is your thing?)

Bath towels

If you shower, you’re going to get wet. If you don’t have infinite time, you won’t want to air dry. Get yourself some bath towels.

Trash can

Bathroom trash cans are typically pretty small and can easily be tucked away beside the toilet or under a sink. Try to get one with a lid to keep everything out of sight.

Toothbrush holder and soap dispenser

Bathroom clutter builds up. Keep your toothbrush clean and off the counter or sink with a toothbrush holder. Make sure you have a soap dispenser or a bar of soap in a soap dish. (We know — these might seem a little obvious, but when you’re in the middle of a move and trying to outfit your place for the first time, it’s easy to forget.)

Hand towels

Turn wet hands into dry hands with some hand towels. There are a lot of different colors and quality levels, so shop around a bit. Or you know, use your pants to dry your hands instead. 

Bath mat

Cold floors after a warm shower is blah. Go with a simple but knubby floor mat or check out some of the more luxurious ones, like a memory foam floor mat, that feels like heaven for your toes.  

Bathroom checklist

BATHROOM
Shower curtainTrash can
Shower curtain linerToothbrush holder
Bath towelsSoap dispenser
Hand towelsFloor mat

Bedroom checklist

You sleep here. You might even work in your bedroom. Maybe it’s even where you go to escape your roommates. Make it a place of peace.

(Correctly sized) dresser

There’s nothing worse than hauling a dresser up a flight of stairs — or spending hours putting one together — only to discover that it’s just too big. Figure out what size dresser will work best in your space and then look around for something that’s nice looking, affordable and has a drawer set-up that matches how you like to organize your clothes. 

Overstock has some pretty decent and affordable options. And, of course, they deliver.

Nightstands

It used to be that we used nightstands to hold a lamp and a book. Let’s face it — now we mainly use it as a place to charge our phones overnight. You can get some pretty simple and compact night stands that barely take up any space. Or you can buy a sturdier option with drawers and fancy hardware. Check out some of the options on West Elm, and Overstock.

More pillows, sheets, and comforters

If you’ve already got the basics — great! If you aren’t one of those people that gets all your wash done in one day, consider getting an extra set of bedding. You can find a variety of pretty good bedroom sets on Overstock.

Hangers and a hamper

We don’t know anyone who has complained about having too much storage available in their bedroom. Keep things off the floor with hangers for clean stuff and a hamper for dirty stuff. You can get a million hangers for super cheap. And you can get a hundred nonslip velvet ones for super cheap, too. 

Lamp and fan

Maybe the light of your phone screen is enough for you. But if you want a little more light to read by or you want your space to feel a little cozier, don’t forget a lamp. There are a ton of options: modern metal ones, glass shade ones, attach-to-the-nightstand ones, and our favorite, a mini-chandelier one. (If you run a little hot at night and don’t have an overhead fan, don’t forget to snag a desktop fan, too.)

Bedroom checklist

BEDROOM
DresserHangers
Nightstand(s)Hamper
PillowsLamp
Sheets and comforterDesktop fan

Main living space essentials

Last but not least: Your living room. Most people spend the majority of their time in their living rooms, so make this space great! (If you look at the apartment move in checklist below and only see dollar signs, aka it all sounds expensive, check out our article on when (and how) to rent furniture for your apartment.)

Sofa (or couch)

Arguably the most important piece of furniture other than your bed, your sofa is likely to get a decent amount of use. It’s where you’ll plop down to hang out with friends — and it might be where they crash for the night, too. Couches can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars, so do some strategic thinking about how long you intend to have it, what kind of wear and tear you expect, and if the style is something you can live with for a long time (or not). 

Television

Finding the right TV, just like the right sofa, can take a little searching. You’ll want to think about size, how far away from it you’ll sit and if you plan to mount it on the wall (check with your landlord!) or set it on a media console. There’s no shortage of options available at Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

Side tables and other extras

You might be happy with just your couch. But if you have people over pretty frequently or want to be able to set a beverage on something other than the ground, you might want a few additional pieces of furniture. Consider a coffee table and end tables around your couch. For additional seating, take a look at recliners and bean bags. Need to lighten up your space? Floor lamps. 

Living room checklist

LIVING SPACE
SofaEnd tables
TelevisionAdditional seating
Coffee table Lightin – floor lamp
Sheets and comforterDesk

The complete checklist for your move

Here it is: Everything we’ve talked about above in one place. The master apartment move in checklist. It may look like a lot (and frankly, it is). But by planning ahead and considering what you need most, you can shop around for the best deals and prioritize how you spend your budget.

COMPLETE CHECKLIST
Kitchen essentialsBowls
Forks, knives and spoonSpatula
Cups and mugsWhisk
PlatesMixing and serving spoons
BowlsKnife set
Plastic storage containersAluminum foil
NapkinsCling wrap
Bedroom essentialsStrainer/colander
MattressCoffee maker
BedframeTea kettle
SheetsToaster
ComforterBlender
PillowsPaper towel holder
First-aid EssentialsBathroom
BandagesShower curtain
Anti-infected ointmentsShower curtain liner
PainkillersBath towels
GauzeHand towels
Rolled BandagesTrash can
Rash creamToothbrush holder
Insect bite/sting reliefSoap dispenser
Safety pins/sticky tapeFloor mat
Bathroom EssentialsBedroom
Toilet paperDresser
Hand soapNightstand(s)
Toothpaste and toothbrushPillows
DeodorantSheets and comforter
Body wash, shampoo, conditionerHangers
Cleaning Essentials
Hamper
Mop and broomLamp
Disinfectant spray/wipesDesktop fan
Dishwasher and laundry soapLiving space
Toilet bowl cleaner and brushSofa
PlungerTelevision
Air FreshenersCoffee table
Paper towelsSheets and comforter
Kitchen and dining room End tables
Dining tableAdditional seating
ChairsLightin – floor lamp
Pots and pansDesk

Using checklists to make your first-time move easier

Be sure to use our apartment move in checklist for each individual section to make your move as smooth as possible or the master checklist for all-in-one convenience. As long as you can check off every item on our lists, you’ll be in great shape to move in and have the apartment ready in no time at all. Checking your lists off room by room can help make it even easier rather than having one huge checklist staring you in the face. 

Moving to your new place can be one of the most exciting times you’ve faced, especially if it’s your first move! Don’t let the daunting list of items you need to remember bring you down, just check them off as you go and you’ll be moved into your new apartment before you know it!

A quick note! Our goal is to gather and share info that’s up-to-date and helps you make great decisions as a renter. That said, the information you get directly from a provider could be a little different. Make sure to review their terms and conditions directly; and, if you see anything here that needs to be updated, please let us know! Advertising disclosure
Last Updated: October 24th, 2020