How to First Apartment Essentials

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So this was the first year I lived in an apartment by myself and I wanted to create a list of essentials that I found particularly helpful to have the first time living in an apartment. Sorted by living spaces.


  • Medium pot - Very versatile, can be used to heat soup, cook sauce, boil water for pasta, and so on.
  • Medium frying pan - Again, very versatile, can be used in more than one way (be creative!).
  • Water filter - Don’t buy a 24pack of water bottles, it’s bad for the planet. Instead, invest in a water filter (eg. Brita) and some sort of canteen/stainless steel/Nalgene equivalent and ta-da! Free* water! (*unless you have to pay for utilities)
  • 3x each, minimum [Plate, Bowl, Fork, Spoon, Knife, Chopsticks] - Here’s the logic - one for now, one just in case, and one when you’re too lazy to do the dishes. By the time you reach the third one, you should be able to (forced, really) to wash the dishes.
  • Tupperware containers - Really, any reusable plastic and/or glass container. Great for keeping leftovers. (and if you go home you can always snag some food and eat it later)
  • Toaster oven - Pretty useful, you can heat anything frozen (it will take longer but will be cooked more consistently), bake small items and probably better than a microwave.
  • Microwave - Yeah, I know I just said “better than a microwave” but it is handy to have options. I tend not to use it too often though. But it is convenient when you’re heating, say, leftovers. I wouldn’t heat it in the toaster oven.
  • Cooking utensils - I mean, all you really need is a spatula. Maybe one of those draining spoons. A cutting knife.
  • Cutting board - (Suggested by Michael) Some places do not have a cutting board. Mine does but I would certainly not use it. Bring your own.
  • Rice cooker - Ok, so there’s a version of a rice cooker which has one button, “Cook” and is basically a giant metal bowl with the rice bowl inside of it. This is the one you want, not the one with the buttons and the clock and the whatever. You can use this to steam stuff along with cooking rice. Don’t forget the rice paddle.
  • Aluminum foil - (Suggested by Lily) Useful for storing food as well. Also you do need something for lining that toaster oven.
  • Paper towels - (Suggested by Lily) Get the huge pack from Costco and never run out of paper towels.


  • Shower caddy - Don’t need to buy some fancy shelf for your shower/bath when you can just hang it!
  • Toilet brush/Plunger - I don’t need to explain this one, do I?
  • Floor/bath mats - It’s nice.
  • Shower slippers - Coming from a dorm you should already have them. I share a shower so I already have them, but I would recommend one anyway.
  • Toilet paper - (Suggested by Desiree) The huge pack from Costco. Never run out of toilet paper, ever. At least, probably for a year.


  • A good mattress - You’re going to be sleeping in it, so make sure it’s comfortable. I got this nifty memory foam mattress from IKEA, and it came vacuum sealed and rolled up, so it was nice and compact which helps since I live on the 3/4th floor. Open the bag, let it air out and BAM! Mattress!
    • Optional: Bed frame - I don’t personally have one but it would be nice to have one for some people. I don’t mind so my mattress just sits on the floor.
  • A good desk - You’re going to be doing work here a lot so make sure it’s a good one. I brought my desk from home. Some IKEA desk from about 10 years ago. (It was something I could carry up 3 flights of stairs easily.)
  • A good chair - You’re going to be sitting in it at said desk. Make sure it’s comfortable.
  • Hanging closet organizer - The one I have is made of a soft material and you can buy the box/shelf thing for each compartment, but I didn’t and just use it as it. Useful if you don’t have a storage solution already.
  • A good pillow - (Suggested by Isaiah) Again, you’re going to be sleeping on it. Make it a good one!

Living Room#

  • I don’t have much of a living room, so I don’t find it very “essential” to have living room items. That being said, a small folding table and some folding chairs do the trick for me. I can eat there, friends can hang out, or it takes up space. Whatever works.
  • Lamps - I mean it helps.


  • Trash cans - Get more than one and put them in many places (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc.). Grocery store bags make excellent trash bags.
  • Command™ Strips/Hooks - You’ll need this more than you’ll think you need them.
  • Baking soda - Gets rid of odors, cleans, what more do you need? Handy to have around. Get the big bag from Costco.
  • A good vacuum - (Suggested by Lily) It gets dustier than you think.

Remember, this is an “essentials” list, which means the bare minimum yet useful items. If you have any additions, feel free to contact me and I’ll add it to the list!

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