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Your First Apartment: Things You Should Remember but Probably Won’t

July 28th, 2008 admin

When you live “on your own” in the dorms, there are a lot of things you take for granted. At most schools, living on campus means that toilet paper is provided, someone else takes out the trash, and you can borrow silverware from the cafeteria (though I can tell you they usually don’t want you to borrow that silverware).

Living on your own off-campus, in a real apartment, is totally different. Suddenly you look around at your Ikea furniture and otherwise empty apartment and realize how much stuff you don’t have (but need pretty badly). So I threw together a list of things you might not think of, but will definitely need within the first few weeks of apartment life.

Remember, this isn’t your all inclusive everything-you-need list-it’s the list of stuff you’ll probably overlook. For an obsessively detailed everything-you-need list, check out Bed, Bath & Beyond’s insane-but-useful first apartment checklists, part I and part II. And don’t forget to bring furniture.

The Bare Necessities
(a.k.a. If You Buy Nothing Else At Least Get These Things!)

  • Toilet paper
  • Soap
  • Towel
  • Shower curtain & rings
  • Trashcan
  • Plunger
  • Curtains (or at least a sheet to cover the windows)
  • Lamp & light bulb(s)
  • Fan
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries

You may see these items repeated on other portions of the list in their respective categories. But just remember them!


  • Toilet paper
  • Trashcan
  • Soap
  • Shower curtain & rings
  • Toilet brush
  • Plunger
  • Towel
  • First-aid kit


  • Trashcan
  • Oven mitt
  • Scrub brush
  • Dish soap & regular soap
  • Towel(s)
  • Plate, bowl, cup, silverware
  • Can opener
  • Pots & pans
  • Paper towels


  • Curtains
  • Alarm clock
  • Lamp


  • Tools (at the very least, nails, a hammer, and a screw driver)
  • Power strip
  • Extension cord
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Sewing kit (for buttons that pop off or other minor fixes)
  • Laundry basket

…and last (but not least) a good sense of humor!

photo: Cat in a Box by sofa

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peter  |  August 19th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Just one more thing:

    Remember, in an apartment building you will have neighbors, who may (probably), like some peace and quiet. Please understand that in some ways, you share a common space — a wall, ceiling and floor, at least — and sound (*especially Bass sounds*), the fumes of smoking materials and other smells travel quite easily between spaces. Respect your neighbors, and they (most likely) will respect you.

  • 2. Jamie  |  August 20th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    @ Peter: Very good point–I’ve experienced all of the above, plus one set of neighbors who bounced a basketball on the floor above me at all hours of the night.

    Peter’s advice applies in the dorms, too, guys!

  • 3. quanah  |  December 24th, 2008 at 8:55 pm


  • 4. jenn  |  March 19th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    thanks, this article really helped!! looking to move out before im 18 so this is all good advice!

  • 5. Vixen  |  September 5th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    yupp… im hpoing to move out before my highschool semnior year ends so this is surely gunna help me out… THAK YOU

  • 6. Halogen Cooker ·  |  November 9th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    just buy high quality power strips and do not use power strips that are not UL certified _

  • 7. Tara  |  May 29th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Thanks so much for this article! My boyfriend and I are getting our first apartment. Although we share one with three other people right now it’s nice to have information for our own apartment since we won’t be haring anymore. Thanks!

  • 8. Carolyn  |  June 17th, 2011 at 10:14 pm


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