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Your 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. This move means you not only have to get things together for your bedroom, but also your bathroom, kitchen, and common area. Organizing all this can be a lot, particularly since you might not have many of the necessary household items yet. Don’t worry though! We’ve compiled a super simple college apartment checklist to get you all ready for your move. Ready to get started?

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. 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 room yourself, take a moment to think about some of the staple pieces of furniture that you’ll need or want in your room. These can include, but aren’t limited to, a bed frame, box spring, desk, bedside table, dresser, and even a comfy chair if you have space!

2. Mattress and Bedding

Your new bedroom may also come with a mattress (lucky you!). If not, this should be one of the first (if not the very 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 a mattress topper, sheet set, pillows, and blankets (duvet, quilt, coverlet — your choice). It’s also a good idea to get a second set of linens to make laundry day a little easier. Finally, feel free to throw in a few decorative pillows or throw blankets to elevate your bedding game!


3. Rug

Add an area rug to introduce a fun design or pop of color to your room. For maximum coziness, the bigger the rug, the better!

4. Mirror

Aside from using them for the obvious purpose of checking yourself out, mirrors are a great way to reflect light and create 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.

5. Lamp

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. 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.

7. Decorations

Posters, 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.

8. Storage bins

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.

9. Hangers

Be sure to pack tons of clothes hangers to stay organized and simplify the process of unpacking, particularly if you’ve taken the time to neatly pack your clothes before your move. Speaking from experience, you always seem to need more hangers than you think, so stock up!


10. Wastepaper basket

Add a small bedroom trash bin to your college apartment checklist to avoid running to the kitchen or bathroom every time you have to throw something away.

11. Hamper

Whether you want a drawstring laundry bag or a free-standing hamper, you definitely need a place to toss all your dirty clothes so they don’t end up balled up on your floor. Since we’re on the topic of laundry, go ahead and add laundry detergent to your shopping list.

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.

12. Shower curtain and liner

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!

13. 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.

14. Toilet paper

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.


15. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and beyond

Consider adding these bathroom necessities to your shopping list. Though you may want to put these items off for later, it’s easiest to check shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, and any other product off the list as soon as you can. This way you can shower and relax after the big move.

16. Trash bin

A trash bin for the bathroom is definitely a must-have. Need we say more?

17. Toilet brush, plunger, and cleaning supplies

While these items aren’t the most exciting, you’ll want to add them to your list to ensure that your bathroom stays clean and orderly. You should purchase some disinfecting spray and toilet bowl cleaner in advance as well.

18. Toiletries storage

Nothing’s worse than moving into a new space and realizing you have to bring your toiletries back and forth from the bathroom every morning and night. Instead, get a handy bin for all of your bathroom necessities.

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.

19. 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. And hey, you or your roommates might already have an old table or chairs sitting in one of your parents’ basements. The furniture might even be vintage by now (don’t tell them we said that).

20. Dishes

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. 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. Speaking of having friends over, you should consider buying a serving bowl and serving platter for larger dinner get-togethers.


21. Kitchen tools and utensils

Along with a set of forks, knives, spoons, and a silverware organizer to store them in, you’ll want some larger gadgets for your kitchen.  Not every college student needs a garlic press or lemon zester, so we’ve stuck with the standard tools to get you started.

  • Mixing spoons, whisk(s), and spatulas

  • Mixing bowls and measuring tools

  • Colander

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Can opener

  • Bottle opener

22. Knives and cutting boards

A paring knife, chef’s knife, and bread knife should check the most important boxes in the knife department. You’re going to want at least two cutting boards so you can delegate one as your onion cutting board. Pro-tip: chop your onions on a plastic cutting board so the smell doesn’t seep into a wooden board.

23. 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.

  • 8 or 10-inch skillet or frying pan

  • Covered saucepan

  • Large stock pot

  • Sheet pan


24. Dish towels, napkins, and oven mitts

Pick out a few dish towels and a set of at least four napkins for your new apartment. If you’re planning on doing any cooking or baking in the oven, be sure to throw a pair of oven mitts into the mix as well.

25. Microwave

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.

26. Toaster

Unless you want to attempt toasting your bread on the stove or in the oven, a toaster is another important addition to your college apartment checklist. Think about whether you want a slot toaster or a toaster oven. While slot toasters toast more evenly, toaster ovens provide a wider variety of functions.

27. Tea kettle and coffee maker

If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, or both, you should include these items on your list. There are so many different options, particularly for coffee makers, we’ll leave it up to you to decide what suits your needs.

28. Food storage containers

That old plastic container from your favorite Thai restaurant might do the job, but we recommend looking into these food storage containers to upgrade your leftover food game. Glass containers are a great option since they’re oven and microwave safe, and tend to last longer.

29. Blender

If you’re into making smoothies or protein shakes, you may want to include a blender on your college apartment checklist. There are a lot of great personal blenders out there if you don’t want to invest in a full-size one.

30. Pantry basics

It’s not a bad idea to stock up on some pantry must-haves before your move. We’ve given you a list of basic ingredients you’ll want to check off your college apartment checklist. For more suggestions, feel free to explore this pantry essentials checklist.

  • Baking staples (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, etc.)

  • Spices (salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.)

  • Cooking oils (vegetable, olive, coconut, avocado, etc.)

  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine, balsamic, etc.)

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


31. 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.

  • Dish sponges and dishwashing brushes

  • Dish and dishwasher soap

  • Paper towels and multi-surface cleaner

  • Trash bags

32. Trash and recycling bins

For your final necessities in the kitchen department, you need a trash can and recycling bin. Consider how many people you’re living with and how much space you have before picking out your bins.  

College Apartment Checklist: Living Room Decor

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.

33. Couch

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 spillages. Be sure to learn how to protect your furniture to avoid damage when moving the couch into your new apartment.


34. Coffee table

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.

35. Rug

Your 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).

36. Accent pillows and throw blankets

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.

38. TV and TV stand

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.


39. Floor lamp

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.

40. Wall art, houseplants, and candles

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.

41. Miscellaneous

We’re almost done here! Here are some final items to include on your college apartment checklist.

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Small broom and dustpan

  • Paper towels

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

  • Surge protectors, extension cords, and batteries

  • Scissors, pens, and paper

  • First aid kit

There you have it — your comprehensive college apartment checklist. While you may have been planning this move for a while, there’s a big chance you’ve been more focused on your new class schedule or the thought of seeing all your friends again. If you’re packing last-minute, we have your back. Here are some helpful tips on how to pack at the eleventh hour.

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


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