You've moved in the few boxes of books, clothes and personal items you brought from home.
Maybe they take up a neat pile in the middle of your bedroom, but the rest of the apartment is empty.
You're starting from square one, which is why you need a first apartment checklist.
The must-haves for a new apartment can range from apartment essentials to items you like, and there's a lot you'll think you need right away.
The truth is, you don't need it all at once. Prioritizing the things you need for your first apartment above the things you want can help you budget and plan for filling up the empty space in your new place.
Each year, about 11 percent of Americans move. Some are moving into their first place, some move as seasoned professionals. Regardless, there are around 35 million people each year starting fresh somewhere new, in need of stuff.
Whether adding a new bed, replacing a couch or stocking the kitchen, there's a lot to buy. In what order you purchase items — once you've established what you really need — comes from your own personal preference. But there are some essentials you shouldn't overlook.
“Your first apartment is a perfect storm: an intersection of many needs and low resources," says Mara Leighton from Business Insider.
Starting from the moment you walk into your new place, you'll need things you don't already have. What's important on that first day, though, is to complete the move. Take possession of your space and get in whatever you're bringing with you.
After all that's done, take a minute to walk around and appreciate you've made it into your first home. Then, the work begins.
You can improvise a lot of things that first night in your new apartment. You can curl up in a sleeping bag on the floor and order take-out food. What's not in your home that first night that you can't live without aren't the big things, but the very small.
Before settling in, take a few minutes and run to the nearest drug store or grocery store and grab:
You don't want to get caught late, with nothing open, and be without these items. It's hard to improvise when these aren't readily available. Empty boxes won't cover it.
While you won't be able to get all your necessities in a single day, the following items are all good purchases to make early on as you're able. Adding these items not only creates a more livable space for you, but also keeps you motivated to continue unpacking and getting settled.
You may spend your first night in your new place a little uncomfortable. That's typical if you don't have furniture yet. This is why one of the first things to get is a mattress. The bed frame can come later, but you need something comfortable for sleeping:
Already having toilet paper is a good first step in making your bathroom functional. Keep it moving by getting your shower ready:
You've got sleeping taken care of. Now, onto the next essential, eating. While you might not start cooking right away, eating on paper plates with plastic utensils can get costly and create a lot of trash. Even a set of two dishes can help reduce waste and allow you to prepare food at home.
As time allows, and you get more settled, continue adding to your kitchen by filling your pantry and fridge. Take your time and don't overload your space with food that first trip to the grocery:
Living rooms are all about comfort. They're the place you'll curl up for a movie or host friends for a game night. While decor is a must for this room, you'll have plenty of time to curate the perfect space. Focus on these living room essentials first:
Unpacking is messy business. Plus, there's no guarantee your new apartment will meet your cleanliness standards. Having a few essential cleaning supplies on hand to tidy up before you start putting stuff away saves a lot of time:
Having a basic, starter toolkit on hand will make your move easier. Plus, not everything requires a maintenance request, so you never know when tools will come in handy. Most shelving and furniture comes with its own set of hardware so no need for specialty items:
After you've settled in, unpacked and purchased all your essential items, it's time to go back and add items, especially to your kitchen, to make it a more complete space.
Increase your dishware so you have enough to entertain guests. Add some wine glasses, beer mugs and a good wine key. Fill in your pantry with salt, pepper, olive oil, flour and any spices you may regularly use. Things like oregano, rosemary and cumin usually top the list. Buy some serving pieces and expand your inventory of pots and pans.
Then, move on to the other rooms of your apartment, filling in gaps in furniture and accessories. This is also the time to start decorating. Begin looking around for items like throw pillows, rugs and plants. Start expressing your character with what goes up on your walls and toss in some small lamps for extra lighting.
With the right shopping strategy in place, you can outfit your apartment for comfortable living. Make sure you establish a budget and take the time to price compare before making large purchases.