The Definitive College Apartment Checklist

Getting ready to move out of your parents’ house and into your college apartment? Congratulations! Moving out is an exciting time in life. As you prepare to move out of your parents’ house or dorm room, it’s helpful to be prepared with a college apartment checklist. We put together a college apartment checklist that includes all the apartment essentials so you’ll be ready for the next phase in your life.

Moving Out for the First Time

Moving out on your own is an exciting experience, but it can also bring some stress. With the right tools and information in front of you, you can alleviate the stress and move forward in this phase of life with excitement. After all, living on your own is an important step in establishing your independence. For many people, this step comes when they attend college and move out of a dorm room into a college apartment or out of their parents’ home to an apartment near their school.

By taking some preparatory steps, you can feel more prepared as you get ready to move out. The first step is putting together an apartment checklist for college. The list should include all the apartment essentials for college, such as the furniture you’ll need, any appliances that aren’t included in the unit, and the basic supplies to live comfortably. You can use the apartment packing list below to make sure you have everything you’ll need and add things to it that might be specific to where you’re living or your lifestyle needs. 

The next step in getting ready to move out is making a budget. It’s important to be financially prepared for the costs of living on your own, which include rent, food, transportation, utilities, and other expenses. Include the amount you’ll spend on rent as a fixed amount and create budgets for the other categories accordingly, based on your income and any scholarships or grants you’ll receive while attending school.  

College Apartment Checklist

Now that you have your budget put together, you can start checking things off the apartment checklist for college. We’ve split the list by room and included a list of general items you’ll need throughout the unit.


Your bedroom will be the place where you rest and relax in preparation for your busy days ahead, so you’ll need a few key furniture pieces and linens:

  • Mattress (Invest in a quality mattress that supports your sleep position and helps you get a good night’s rest. Most people sleep on their mattresses for at least three to five years, so it’s worth investing in one that will provide plenty of support.)
  • Mattress pad/cover
  • Sheets and pillowcases
  • Pillows
  • Comforter or duvet cover
  • Extra blankets
  • Bed frame
  • Nightstand
  • Lamp (to place on the nightstand for softer light as you’re getting ready for bed)
  • Dresser
  • Alarm clock
  • Shoe rack (On the floor or hanging-style)
  • Hangers
  • Storage containers and bins
  • Hanging mirror


Next up is the bathroom, where you’ll need a few essentials to help you get ready for the day and maintain your personal hygiene:

  • Towels (bath and hand)
  • Washcloths
  • Bath mat
  • Shower curtain and liner
  • Shower organizer (you might need to keep your caddy if the shower is too small for multiple bottles and organizers)
  • Trash can
  • Toilet plunger
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair styling tools
  • Mirror (if the bathroom doesn’t have one)


Although it’s tempting to grab takeout when you’re a busy college student, the cost of eating out can really add up and impact your budget. Invest in some affordable yet good-quality cooking tools to prepare and enjoy meals at home:

  • Pots and pans (various sizes, with lids)
  • Baking sheet
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife set
  • Cutting boards
  • Colander or strainer
  • Cooking utensils (You can often purchase these in a set that includes a whisk, spoon, tongs, ladle, and a spatula. Other essentials include a ladle, a bottle opener, a can opener, a vegetable peeler, a cheese grater, a pizza cutter, and kitchen shears.)
  • Coffee maker
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Hand mixer
  • Blender

You’ll also need a few items to eat the meals you’ve prepared:

  • Dishes (Small and large plates, bowls)
  • Mugs and glasses
  • Placemats
  • Utensils
  • Serving utensils
  • Salt and pepper shakers

Study Area

You’ll need a designated place to study and do homework. This might be in your bedroom, where you can close the door when you need peace and quiet. Regardless of the location in the apartment, it’s important to have it set up with the right items:

  • Desk
  • Desk chair
  • Computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Desktop lamp
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Power strip
  • Printer (if necessary)

Living Area

In your living space, you’ll need a comfortable place to sit, plus a few items for entertainment:

  • Couch or sofa
  • Chair(s)
  • Living space table (end table and/or coffee table)
  • TV stand or entertainment center
  • TV
  • DVD player or streaming device

Living Essentials 

The final items on your college apartment checklist are the things you need to live comfortably:

  • Laundry supplies (basket, detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, dryer sheets)
  • Food storage items, such as containers to store leftovers, aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and oven mitts
  • Hand soap and dispenser for the bathroom(s) and kitchen
  • Toiletries (Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, body soap, shaving cream, razors, face wash)
  • Groceries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • Paper towels and napkins

If you’re sharing your apartment with at least one roommate, it’s helpful to talk to them in advance to determine what they will bring and whether you want to share any of the items. Some roommates share the items used in the kitchen to prepare and eat meals, such as cookware, silverware, and dishes, while others prefer to keep things separate as much as possible. In a smaller rental, you may not have space for multiple pieces of cookware or bakeware, so you may need to share based on the storage space available.  

When you check everything off your college apartment checklist, you can feel confident that you have what you need to live comfortably in your new space. 

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