An Apartment Checklist of What to Buy First

Getting your first apartment is exhilarating. That empty space is full of promise and prospects for shopping. Let your imagination wander. Depending on your shopping personality, it is easy either to get carried away and blow your money on nonessential (but gratifying) items; or to tremble at the thought of spending your hard-earned income on expensive furniture.

Below is a list of 11 essential purchases for turning your first apartment into a comfortable, functional home. My suggestion is to purchase at least the first five items before you move in.

1. Mattress / Bed

This first purchase is a no-brainer, especially after you’ve spent a night or two on a cold hard floor in a sleeping bag. Those first days, weeks, or months in your first apartment, your bed can be the place where you eat, read, and watch TV.

Remember to measure your bedroom, before you buy the mattress. Also, think about how much you can spend on sheets. Queen-size sheets cost significantly more than twin sheets.

2. Trash Cans

I like having a minimum of three trash cans, one each for the bathroom, the kitchen, and my bedroom.

3. Shower Curtain and Shower Rings

Not all apartments come with a shower curtain, and I would be suspicious of how clean one is, if it does. Shower curtains come in all different texture, colors, and can be opaque or transparent. With this inexpensive purchase, you can really add style and personality to your apartment bathroom.

4. Curtains or Blinds

If you have bare windows in your first apartment, purchase curtains or blinds as soon as you can–for the sake of privacy. Blinds are more functional, but curtains have a soft appeal. Plus, the fabric of curtains is a better barrier against sound and the cold outside.

5. Chest of Drawers or Hanging Closet Organizers

There are many ways to store your clothing. As long as you have one, you’re all right. A chest of drawers is great, if you have the space. A cheaper alternative to a dresser is stackable plastic drawers. You can also buy hanging shelves with hooks that sit on your closet rod.

6. Dishware, Cups, and Utensils

It’s much cheaper to eat at home than at a restaurant. Acquire some bowls, cups, plates, forks, spoons, and knives–disposable or permanent.

7. Fan

A fan is a multipurpose gadget, which makes it worth purchasing. In the summer, it will keep you cool and in the winter, it will circulate the heat around your room. Best of all, fans are perfect for blocking out roommate noises, loud neighbors, or the sounds from outside.

8. Table and / or Desk

As a starter for your first apartment, your table will function as the place where you eat, put your computer, and pay your bills. If you don’t have enough money for a table and you’d rather not eat on cardboard boxes, buy a card table.

9. Chair

Yes, you can always eat in bed, but it’s nice to have a chair to go along with your table or desk.

10. Lamp

A great lamp can really make a room cozy and is essential should the bulb in your overhead light blow out in the night.

11. Bookshelf

If you have a lot of books and cockroaches, invest in a bookshelf– or a semblance of one–to protect your books from the roaches. They love paper and will make a beeline for your books, sometimes leaving behind a trail of stickiness on the pages.

Short on money? Buy a few milk crates and stack them on top of one another. Or get cinderblocks–or bricks for an earthier feel–and boards of wood. Stack the wooden boards up with two bricks underneath the ends of each one.

12. Sofa or Futon

This is such a staple in homes that it’s disconcerting to live in your first apartment without one. They’re especially essential for when you have guests over.

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