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Your First College Apartment Checklist – The Ultimate List

Your First College Apartment Checklist – The Ultimate List

Use our college apartment checklist to prepare for the moment you’ve been waiting for – the big transition from a tiny 150-square-foot dorm room to your very own college apartment. What do you need for your first college apartment? This move means you not only have to get things together for your bedroom, but also your bathroom, kitchen, and living room area. 

Organizing all of this can be a lot, especially since you might not have many of the necessary household items yet. Don’t worry though! This super simple college apartment checklist will get you all ready for your move.

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Ready to get started? Download the PDF and start checking things off!

Pro Tip: Download this free app from RentCheck that documents the move-in condition of your rental. It will help you make sure you get your security deposit back!


college apartment checklist--bedroom

College Apartment Checklist: Bedroom Essentials

The bedroom is a good place to begin since you probably have a bunch of these items on hand already. Whether you want to use your old duvet from freshman year or give your room a total makeover, this college apartment checklist has you covered.

1. Bedroom Furniture

Depending on where you’re moving, particularly if your college or university owns the apartment, your new accommodation might come furnished with some of the items on our college apartment checklist. But if you do need to furnish the rooms yourself, take a moment to think about some of the staple pieces of furniture that you’ll need or want in your room. 

  • Bed frame

  • Box spring or foundation

  • Nightstand

  • Dresser

  • Desk

  • Comfy chair (or beanbag!)

2. Mattress and Bedding

Your new bedroom may also come with a mattress (lucky you!). If not, this should be one of the first items on your list. No stress – we’ve also got you covered when it comes to choosing the best mattress for your new place. Once you have your bed frame and mattress, you’re going to want some comfy bedding. 

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to get a second set of linens to make laundry day a little easier. 

  • Mattress

  • Sheet set

  • Duvet, comforter or quilt

  • A mattress topper or mattress pad

  • Pillows

college apartment checklist

3. Window treatments

Sleep in college is very, very precious. Make sure you find curtains or blinds for your room to capitalize on your sleeping hours. If you’re unsure how to cover your windows, here are some window treatment ideas.

4. College bedroom decor

Area rugs, posters, pillows, photos, tapestries, and other decorations are always one of the best ways to personalize your room. Make sure you don’t forget to add these key items to your college apartment checklist – or you’ll find yourself stuck purchasing a poster of Ariana Grande at your college’s annual poster sale.

5. Lighting

Lighting is important! Consider adding a floor lamp or desk lamp to your checklist to help you brighten up your room or allow you to get in some late night reading or studying. For some inspiration, check out these energy-efficient light bulbs that are not only sustainable but give your room a soft, warm glow.

6. Mirror

Use a mirror to check yourself out – and make your room look bigger! They reflect light, which creates the illusion that a room is bigger than it actually is. Whether you want a full-length mirror or a smaller accent wall mirror, a mirror should be an essential component of your college apartment checklist.

7. Miscellaneous college bedroom essentials

Make the most of the space in your bedroom by packing storage bins to tuck under your bed or above a closet. These bins are a great place to store off-season clothes, extra shoes, or spare linens. 

Whether you’re tossing trash or tossing laundry, the floor is not a great option! Make sure to add both a waste basket and hamper to your college bedroom essentials list. Since we’re on the topic of laundry, go ahead and add laundry detergent to your shopping list.

And don’t forget clothes hangers! Be sure to pack plenty to stay organized and simplify the process of unpacking, particularly if you’ve taken the time to neatly pack your clothes before your move

  • Storage bins/baskets

  • Underbed storage

  • Wastebasket

  • Hamper

  • Clothes hangers

College Apartment Checklist: Bathroom Basics

Goodbye shower caddies and flip flops! You finally have your own bathroom and no longer have to wait in line for a shower or worry about one of your neighbors swiping your favorite shampoo. But, having your own bathroom does come with some added responsibility. While you get to ditch the shower shoes, you will have to add some new items to your college apartment checklist.

8. Shower curtain, liner, and hooks

Shower curtains may seem like a boring purchase, but there are so many options. Whether you want a bold motivational quote or subtle pattern on your shower curtain, it will surely add a personalized touch to your bathroom. Don’t forget the shower liner and rings to hold the curtain up!

  • Shower curtain 

  • Shower curtain liner

  • Shower curtain hooks

9. Towels and bathmat

Choose a set of towels for your bathroom that includes bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths. You might as well get two of everything to simplify laundry day, and go ahead and add a bathmat to your shopping list, as well.

  • Bath towels

  • Hand towels

  • Washcloths

  • Bathmat

10. Toilet paper and tissues

You’ll thank us later when you don’t have to take that last-minute trip to the store after moving in. It’s also worth figuring out whether your apartment comes with a toilet paper holder. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to add one to your college apartment checklist ASAP, since no one likes a toilet paper roll perched on the back of the toilet.

  • Toilet paper

  • Toilet paper holder

  • Tissues

11. Toiletries and storage

Consider adding these bathroom necessities to your shopping list. Though you may want to put them off for later, it’s easiest to check shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, and any other personal products off the list as soon as you can. You’ll probably want to shower and relax after the big move! And don’t forget some options for keeping them organized.

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

  • Hand soap

  • Body wash

  • Bathroom storage (e.g. small bins or drawers)

12. Bathroom cleaning supplies

No one likes a grimy bathroom. While these items aren’t the most exciting, you’ll want to add essentials like a wastebasket, toilet brush and plunger to your list to help you keep your bathroom clean. 

  • Bathroom wastebasket

  • Toilet brush

  • Toilet bowl cleaner

  • Disinfecting spray

  • Plunger

college apartment checklist--kitchen

College Apartment Checklist: Kitchen Necessities

Moving into your new college apartment usually means parting ways with your on-campus dining hall. Whether you’ll miss the endless supply of french fries or are thrilled to never eat overcooked vegetables again, our checklist has everything you need to prepare for your college apartment kitchen.

13. Kitchen furniture

Kitchen furniture is a pretty simple aspect of your college apartment checklist. Your top, if not only, priority is a kitchen table and chairs. You might even be able to get by with some bar stools if you have a counter you can eat at. And hey, you or your roommates might already have this kitchen furniture sitting in one of your parents’ basements. It might even be vintage by now (don’t tell them we said that).

  • Kitchen table

  • Chairs

  • Bar stools

14. Dishware

Plates, bowls, mugs, and glasses are crucial components to your college apartment checklist. When getting these items together, be sure to buy at least four of each (service for four). You might think you only need one glass, but you’ll immediately regret it when you have a friend over and can’t even offer them a glass of water. Consider adding things like serving platters and wine glasses as you see fit.

  • Plates

  • Soup/cereal bowls

  • Mugs

  • Water glasses

15. Kitchen tools and utensils

Along with a set of forks, knives, spoons, and a silverware organizer to store them in, there are some other tools you’ll want for your college kitchen. Not every college student needs a garlic press or lemon zester, so we’ve stuck with the standard tools to get you started. A paring knife, chef’s knife, and bread knife should check the most important boxes in the knife department. 

  • Silverware (at least four place settings)

  • Silverware organizer

  • Cutting knives 

  • Cutting board

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Mixing bowl 

  • Colander

  • Bottle and can opener

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Aluminum foil and cling wrap

  • Food storage containers

  • Dish towels

  • Oven mitts

  • Other cooking utensils you think you’ll use. Consider stocking your college apartment with a spatula, spoon, and slotted spoon.

16. Pots and pans

If you can’t snag some old pots and pans from your parents, it’s easiest to buy a full set. But, if you don’t want a complete set or want to divide and conquer with your roommates, here are some key pots and pans you should include on your college apartment checklist. Consider looking into non-toxic cookware brands to prevent the release of harmful chemicals into the air and your food.

  • Large stock pot

  • 2-quart saucepan

  • 10-inch frying pan

  • Rimmed baking sheet 

  • Large baking/casserole dish

17. Kitchen appliances

While you don’t need a ton of fancy gadgets at your college apartment, there are a few key appliances you’re likely to use frequently. If your apartment doesn’t already come with a microwave, we’re guessing you’re going to need to buy one. We aren’t judging if you’d rather eat ramen than cook a full meal – college is busy! Check out some of the best small microwaves for college so yours doesn’t end up taking up too much counter space in the kitchen. 

  • Microwave

  • Coffee pot and/or kettle 

  • Toaster or toaster oven

18. Pantry basics

These are just a few pantry must-have you’ll want to check off your college apartment checklist. Choose other spices and condiments according to your own preferences and cooking habits. You can always add to your collection later. For more suggestions, feel free to explore our ultimate new home grocery shopping list

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Spices you cook with often 

  • Condiments you enjoy (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.)

  • Oil (vegetable, olive, coconut, etc.)

19. Kitchen cleaning supplies

After cheffing it up in the kitchen, you’re going to need a way to clean up after yourself. Here are some necessary cleaning supplies.

  • Multi-purpose liquid cleaner

  • Paper towels

  • Dish soap

  • Dishwasher detergent

  • Sponges

  • Hand soap

  • Trash can

  • Trash bags

  • Recycling bin

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college apartment checklist--living space

College Apartment Checklist: Living Room Essentials

Last but definitely not least, you have to furnish your living space. Get yourself ready for wine nights, dance parties, and movie showings with a room that checks all the boxes on our college apartment checklist.

20. Living room furniture

Start with the basics for the living room in your college apartment: an uber comfortable couch, a coffee table, and your TV setup. 

A couch will be one of the main focal points of your new living room. Since we’re guessing you’ll be using your couch pretty frequently, it’s best to pick a darker fabric color that’s more resistant to food and drink spills. Be sure to learn how to protect your furniture to avoid damage when moving the couch into your new apartment.

Though it may seem like a small piece of furniture, a coffee table really brings a living space together. Be mindful of the proportions and features of your table. You might want a coffee table with storage space for textbooks, board games, and other miscellaneous items.

If you want a TV in your apartment, it’s usually easier to get a TV stand than to try and mount it on the wall. Plus, a TV stand with shelves can offer extra storage, which is always helpful. Once you have your TV, check out these alternatives to cable TV to figure out what streaming device is best for you. If you need to set up your TV or internet plan, click here to shop and compare providers at your new address.

  • Couch

  • Coffee table

  • Television

  • TV stand/media console

21. Living room decor

You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in your living space. Why not make it cute and cozy by adding some extra pillows and blankets to your college apartment checklist? These items will up your style game immediately. And a living room rug will bring comfort and style to your space. Similar to your couch selection, a darker-colored rug is likely the better choice for your college apartment (red wine on a white rug is not a good look).

Your bedroom isn’t the only part of your apartment that you can personalize. Apply unique touches to your living space with some fun wall art, real or fake plants (not all of us have green thumbs), and candles. With these little details, your college apartment will start to feel like home.

  • Accent pillows

  • Throw blankets

  • Area rug

  • Wall art

  • Plants

  • Candles

22. Lighting

You will probably want some extra lighting in your living room. Include a floor lamp on your college apartment checklist to brighten up your living space.

college apartment checklist--other items

Other items for your college apartment checklist

23. Miscellaneous apartment checklist items

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Small broom and dustpan

  • Basic toolkit (hammer, nails, screwdriver, etc.)

  • Surge protectors, extension cords, and batteries

  • Scissors, pens, tape, and paper

  • First aid kit

There you have it – your comprehensive college apartment checklist. If you’re looking to take your apartment up a notch, check out our first apartment checklist for additional items you might want. 

If you think you’re ready to start checking things off the list, get our downloadable PDF. Happy apartment shopping!

college apartment checklist


Download the ultimate college apartment checklist!


P.S. Don’t forget to complete a walkthrough of your new place before you move any of our new stuff in. Download this free app from RentCheck to make it simple. It walks you through taking pictures of each room and making note of any damage (like dings in the walls or dents in the appliances). You’ll want this documentation when it’s time to get your security deposit back!

Check out our Free Moving Tools page for additional help!


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Comments ( 2 )

What else is an amazing storage hack - self storage units! Especially if you can find a self storage company that gives you mobile solutions. That means easy storing and easy retrieval. If you are living in an apartment that doesn't give you enough space, then you don't have to worry too much anymore!

What else is an amazing storage hack - self storage units! Especially if you can find a self storage company that gives you mobile solutions. That means easy storing and easy retrieval. If you are living in an apartment that doesn't give you enough space, then you don't have to worry too much anymore!