College Apartment Essentials Checklist

Moving out of a dorm and into your first college apartment is a big step– say goodbye to sharing a tiny room! Instead, you’ll share a somewhat larger space with your friends and have more freedom about what goes in the apartment and what you’re allowed to do there.

College Apartment Essentials Checklist

However, with great freedom comes great decorating responsibility, and that’s often a financial burden. Unlike living in a dorm, you have to fully outfit your place. And even if the unit has some furniture (mine had a desk, bed, and sofas), you still have a lot of work to do before it feels like home.

Before you get lost in the euphoria that is shopping at home stores, however, make a list of everything you need. As a matter of fact, why don’t you use our college apartment essentials checklist:

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Infogrpahic


Your bedroom will be your haven in your college apartment. Other spaces are shared between you and your roomies, and the bedroom is where you can close the door, unwind and focus on your studies. So, it’s a pretty important space. Here’s what you’ll need:

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Bedroom

Bed Frame and MattressSome college apartments provide the bed for you, but double check before you make any assumptions. If you do have to bring you own, measure your bedroom. You don’t want to pack up your queen-size bed just to realize it takes up the entire room.

Full-size beds are great for college apartments – they’ll fit in most rooms and they’re still big enough to let you spread out.

Mattress PadCollege apartments don’t have TempurPedic mattresses. They may be downright uncomfortable. Save yourself a backache and get a mattress pad.

BeddingNo matter how furnished your apartment is, you’ll need to bring your own bedding. See how large the bed is and purchase based on that. Also, the bedding you choose will determine the color scheme in your room, so pick wisely.

Neutral bedding allows you more freedom in picking colors later on, and you can always change things like pillow covers and art to alter your color scheme. Also, consider getting two sets. That way, when you wash one set, you can put another on your bed.

Desk and ChairAgain, many college apartments provide a desk, but if yours doesn’t, get one! This is where you’ll write your papers, study for finals and lounge around on Facebook. Make sure your chair is comfortable – you’ll use it a lot.

LampMake sure your desk is well-lit so you don’t strain your eyes trying to read “Crime and Punishment” for your classical literature class – don’t make it any harder on yourself.

Organizational Tools

While your bedroom in a college apartment will be larger than your dorm, it’s certainly not a mansion. Keeping your things organized will prevent clutter and give you plenty of room to live. These tools will help maintain order in your space:

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Organizational Tools

  • Shoe rack
  • Under-bed storage bins
  • Laundry basket
  • Bins for storing in your closet
  • Organizers for your desk

Additional Items

While these may not be essential, they’ll are great to have:

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Additional Items

  • Nightstand
  • Alarm clock
  • Fan
  • Area rug
  • Blackout curtains (you’ll want to sleep in after a night out)
  • Art


Now onto shared spaces: You may only have one bathroom split between multiple roommates in your college apartment, so plan accordingly. Essentials include anything that helps you manage clutter and keep your roommate’s stuff out of your area.

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Bathroom

Shower CaddyThese lovely inventions use a pole filled with springs to stand upright in a shower or tub. Attached to the pole are a series of baskets. Make sure the caddy you use has an equal number of baskets to the amount of people living in your apartment – four people, four baskets. That way, each person can store shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and so on in their designated basket.

Extra Towel BarsIf your apartment doesn’t have enough bars for towels, install more. Or, get over-the-door hooks so everyone has a place to hang their towels.

TowelsAs with bedding, consider buying two towel sets that match so you always have a clean set available. Plus, using matching towels clearly displays which belong to you.

Shower CurtainYou don’t want to drip water on the floor. Enough said.

Plunger and Toilet BrushKeep that toilet clean and running. You don’t want to be stuck in the bathroom without a plunger, trust me.

ToiletriesDon’t forget to bring the basics.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hair products
  • Soap (both body and hand)
  • Rugs
  • Toilet paper (seriously, don’t forget this!)


Decide amongst yourselves who will bring what items for the kitchen. Remember that whatever you don’t buy now, you will need down the road.

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Kitchen

Dining SetGet a dining table that fits in the space and that’s large enough for all of the roommates to use at once – roomie dinners are tons of fun! Also, don’t forget chairs.

Plates, Cups, Mugs, and BowlsPurchase a set that includes a variety of sizes and make sure you have enough for everyone.

Silverware and UtensilsThis includes your basics (forks, knives, and spoons) as well as tools like spatulas, serving spoons, a garlic press, and so on.

Pots and PansYou can actually cook now that you have an apartment, so go crazy! You’ll need pots and pans to bring out your inner Julia Child.

Trash Can: Buying a trash can for your apartment is the easy part: Getting your roomies to throw out the trash is another matter entirely.

Living Room

You and your roommates will call the living room a shared home. It’s where movie nights, viewing of the big game and even parties will occur.

College Apartment Essentials Checklist - Living Room

Sofa and ChairsIf your apartment has this furniture, consider buying slip covers to add your own personality to the space.

Coffee and End TablesPeople need a place to set down their beers, right?

LampsWhether you’re doing homework in the living room or just chilling with friends, lamps can make the space feel cozier.

Throw BlanketsIf someone needs to crash on your sofa, you’ll be ready to accommodate with throw blankets.

TVPreferably with the ability to hook up to your game console or laptop – because, Netflix.

Make sure to talk with your roommates before you buy your essential college apartment furnishings. That way, you don’t all buy the same things for shared spaces and end up with too much. Good luck getting settled and have fun in a space that’s finally yours!

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College Apartment Essentials Checklist

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