Everything You Need To Know About Renting Your First Apartment

You’ve done it. You finally saved up enough money, found the perfect place, and are ready to move out on your own for the very first time. Now what?

Moving out on your own for the first time, whether you’re moving into a studio apartment in Denver, Colorado or a cool new unit in Chicago, is exciting.

It’s so exciting, in fact, that you might not have stopped packing long enough to think about all of the solo-apartment necessities you’re missing.

But how do you know what you need before you know you need it?

They say you learn from your mistakes. Well, we’ve made plenty — moved out on our own, opened wine bottles with screwdrivers, made ramen in a coffee pot, and lamented an un-openable can of supposedly idiot-proof soup — so you don’t have to.

Let’s go room by room — assuming, optimistically, that you have more than one room — and make a first apartment checklist, including just enough groceries to make a few basic recipes.

Living Room

It’s time to put all those years as a couch potato to good use. Use your couch surfing days as inspiration in your living room design.

Couch / $300
Arm chair / $250
Coffee table / $25
Side table / $20
Floor lamp / $15
Area rug (if you have wood floors) / $50
Bookshelf / $40
Something, anything, to put on the walls / $15
Table and chairs / $200
Potted plant / $30
Coasters / $7

Living Room Total $952


The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. It’s also the most terrifying. You might be overwhelmed at the thought of stocking up a kitchen. Remember all those little luxuries your parents had? Muffin pans, crock pots, spare dish cloths, the state-of-the-art espresso machine. But you don’t have to live in luxury. All you have to do is stock up with the essentials.

Garbage can (and garbage bags) / $25
Silverware / $20
Set of dishes / $35
Cups / $15
Paper towels / $7
Dish towels / $10
Dish rags / $10
Dish soap / $5
Drying rack / $12
Can opener / $8
Toaster / $20
Coffee maker / $25
Knives / $30
Bottle opener / $5
Pots and pans / $50
Strainer / $15
Ice cube trays / $10
Pizza cutter / $13
Baking pans (read: pizza pan) / $12
Sandwich bags / $5
Plastic wrap / $5
Cooking utensils (like spatulas) / $20
Oven mitts / $10
Butter dish / $8


Salt / $2
Pepper / $7
Sugar / $10
Flour / $7
Cinnamon / $4
Olive oil / $7
Coffee / $8
Butter / $4
Noodles / $2
Tomato sauce / $1
Canned beans / $3
Rice / $5
Frozen pizza / $7
Half-gallon of milk / $3
Cereal / $3
Bread / $4
Cheese / $6
Fruit / $5
Sandwich materials (PB&J, or lunch meat — your call, chef.) / $10

Kitchen Total $473


You’ll never have to see that twin extra-long again. Even if you can’t afford a Tempur-Pedic, you can find your own NEW mattress — that’s right, you can have a quality mattress that hasn’t been flattened by generations of college students. When you’re mattress shopping, don’t be shy. Get on there and roll around. Lay down for a while, how you typically sleep, and see if certain parts of your body start to get sore or strained. When it comes time to buy, ask about a trial period. A 15-minute test and your first night’s sleep can make a world of difference. And that mattress protector they keep trying to sell you? Yea, it’s probably a good idea.

Mattress / $300
Bed frame / $100
Bedside Table / $40
Sheets (600 thread count, or above) / $80
Blankets / $25
Pillows / $50
Dresser / $40

Bedroom total $635


You already have (most of) what you need: shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, etc. But now it’s time to stock the bathroom for you and your guests. (Don’t skip the plunger — you never know who will drop by.)

Toilet paper / $7
Plunger / $15
Toilet brush / $10
Plastic shower curtain (and rings) / $12
Toothbrush holder / $5
Hand soap / $4
Hand towel / $5

Bathroom Total $58

The Essentials

These are the subtler items that you really don’t think about until you need them — but when you do, you’re going to need them fast. Don’t forget these necessities.

A battalion of bathroom cleaners + sponges / $25
Vacuum cleaner / $80
Broom (and dust pan) / $15
Mop + bucket $15
Envelopes (and stamps) / $12
Paper shredder / $15
A file for important papers (like your lease) / $20
Laundry detergent / $15
Tape / $3
Organizational totes/bins / $30
Coat hangers / $12

Essentials Total $242

Grand Total $2,360

This is far from everything you’ll eventually need, but this will get you by until you get your bearings in your brand-new place.

*Note on prices: Prices for all of the above goods vary widely. These example prices are only a guideline.

Zoey Miller

Zoey is our baby equipment expert. Her topics are baby, diapers, feeding, and pregnancy. After finishing college, she started work as a kindergarten teacher. She is a mother to Naomi and Daisy and has gained an immeasurable knowledge from her teaching job.