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The Ultimate Checklist for Moving into Your First Apartment

July 11, 2024

Moving into your first apartment marks the beginning of true independence and a new chapter in your life. However, the process can also be overwhelming as there are many details to consider and tasks to complete. That is why you need a comprehensive checklist to ensure you’re not missing anything when moving into your first apartment. 

While the bare essentials might make your apartment livable, it is the small details that truly transform it into a cozy space. That’s where Stack Moves comes in. With our moving boxes for rent, we ensure your belongings arrive safely, allowing you to focus on the fun parts of settling in. Schedule your move with us today!

In this blog, we’ve compiled a comprehensive checklist covering everything you will need to make your new place feel like home. We’ll also share tips and suggestions to make the moving process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

How to Prepare to Move into Your First Apartment?

How to Prepare to Move into Your First Apartment?

We can imagine how exciting it gets when you’re moving into your first apartment. However, keep in mind that it requires careful planning and preparation. 

First, you need to assess your belongings and needs. Determine the amount of furniture and items you will need. Through this assessment, you get to know if you should buy more items. You also get to know the items you should discard or donate. Investing in storage units can be a good option if you think you’ll need all your items but lack space. If you’re moving in with a partner, family member, cousin, sibling, or roommate, check what items they already have to avoid duplicates.

Next, you should consider your budget to determine whether you can afford to buy new things or if you need to make do with what you have. It’s important to be smart about your needs and prioritize spending on essential items. For instance, it’s worth splurging on a good mattress, but you can save on a rug or side table.

Where to Get Moving Boxes for Moving?

There is the dilemma of cardboard boxes vs. plastic moving bins when moving. Although it is easy to find cardboard boxes in a department store or from online retailers like Amazon and U-Haul, they are not as durable as plastic bins and do not ensure the safety of your belongings. 

You should use good boxes rather than flimsy cardboard boxes to protect your belongings while moving. Stack Moves offers durable moving boxes with dollies and labels that tend to be unaccounted for when using cardboard boxes. You can use our moving box calculator to estimate how many boxes you need for your move

How to Pack Different Items

When packing into your first apartment, you must account for certain apartment essentials, such as clothes and weights. 

You should use special boxes or garment bags to pack hanging clothes for moving. This helps to keep them wrinkle-free. On the other hand, to pack weights for moving, distribute them evenly in boxes and use smaller boxes for heavy items like weights. 

Moving Into First Apartment – Checklist

Moving Into First Apartment - Checklist

Indeed, moving into your first apartment can be a hassle when you are unprepared or do not plan ahead. To avoid such stress, we’ve come up with the ultimate moving into your first apartment checklist. With this guide, you are on the first path to enjoying your new home. 

Here’s a look at our first apartment checklist: 

  • Set a budget: Determine your monthly rent and utility budget. It is helpful to balance your budget and prioritize essentials. For example, splurge on a cooker but save on items like a microwave or water dispenser.
  • Secure your apartment: Once you know how much you want to spend on your first apartment and the relocation process, you have to secure your desired apartment. You can do this by signing the lease agreement and paying the security deposit and the first month’s rent. 
  • Plan your move: Now that you have secured your apartment, you should schedule a moving date. To make the moving process faster and easier, hire movers or rent a moving truck. Using a moving box calculator to determine how many boxes you need is also helpful. 
  • Gather packing supplies: The next step would be to gather the necessary supplies to move your items. Using high-quality moving boxes to protect your belongings during the move is essential.
  • Sort and declutter:  What are the essential items you need? What are the things you can do without? You should donate, sell, or dispose of items that you no longer need. These would be items that haven’t been worn or used in over a year.
  • Consult with roommates: Are you moving in with roommates? If yes, check what items they already have. This will help avoid duplicates and reduce the number of items you will need to pack. 
  • Pack essentials and valuables: A separate and secure box should be provided for your essentials and valuables. This includes documents such as the lease agreement, passport, driver’s license, jewelry, etc. This way, you do not have to worry about your valuables being safe, and you can also easily access them. 
  • Have your move-day essentials handy: What would you need to set up your new home on the first day? You would need to have them handy. This includes basic tools, cleaning supplies, snacks, phone chargers, etc.
  • First night box: There should be a special box for items that would make your first night comfortable. These include bedding, basic toiletries, a change of clothes, and essential kitchen items. 
  • Set up utilities and services: To get the best out of your first apartment, you should arrange for electricity, water, gas, internet, and cable services. 
  • Furnish your apartment: The next step on the checklist would be furnishing. To do this, focus on essential items and add more as your budget allows. 
  • Ensure safety and security: Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if not provided.

What You Need for Your Living Room

What You Need for Your Living Room

In setting up your living room, you will need furniture, lighting, decor, and storage. Depending on what you’re getting, it would cost between $300 to $1,000 to set up your living room. 

For furniture, you could get a couch and coffee table, and chairs. These items are essential for seating and entertaining guests. The coffee table also holds books and decor. If you have a television, you will also need a TV stand to support your television and provide storage. If you have extra money from your budget, you can also decide to get throw pillows.

Getting floor lamps and table lamps ensures that you have enough lighting in your apartment. You could go the extra mile to get rugs, curtains, and wall art to serve as decor for your space, personalizing them to suit your style. 

In addition, your living room would need storage items like bookshelves and storage bins. They help keep items tidy. 

What You Need for Your Dining Room

Although not so common in the present day, your first apartment may come with a separate segment for dining rooms. Therefore, you would need to buy items like a dining room table and chairs. These would range between $100 to $2,000, depending on the quality you go for. It is best to work with your budget when deciding on the quality to purchase.

Sometimes, this space may be attached to other rooms, such as the kitchen and the living room. In such cases, you do not need to worry about extra items like window coverings.

What You Need for Your Kitchen

For the kitchen space, you will need kitchen essentials like appliances, cookware, cooking utensils, dishware, and knives. Typically, you do not need many of these items since it is your first apartment. 

For example, you will need appliances like a microwave, toaster oven, and coffee maker. However, getting one of these items is enough to set up your kitchen. On the other hand, for cookware like pots and pans, an instant pot, measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, and baking sheets, you may need about three or four each. It is best to work with your needs before purchasing any of these items.

Furthermore, you must get cooking utensils and kitchen tools like a chef’s knife and spatulas. We recommend getting about three or four of each. This number also applies to dishware such as a cutting board, food storage containers, plates, bowls, and glasses. In addition, you should have cleaning supplies like dish soap, sponges, and trash bags in the kitchen. 

Setting up the kitchen would typically range between $150 to $700. 

What You Need for Your Bedroom

What You Need for Your Bedroom

You need bedroom essentials like furniture, bedding, decor, storage, and a few other items. Typically, you would need a bed and mattress, and also a dresser. These items can cost anywhere between $200 and $1,000. 

Then, you must get bedding like sheets, pillows, and blankets for comfort. If you have extra money to spend, you should get storage items like a bed frame, closet organizers and under-bed storage and decor like curtains, lamps, and alarm clocks.  

What You Need for Your Bathroom

Bathroom essentials include bath towels, shower curtain, and bath mat. These are fundamental for daily use and cost between $20 to $70.

Other bathroom essentials include toiletries like shampoo, soap, and toothbrushes. You would also need storage items like shelving units and baskets. In addition, don’t forget to purchase cleaning supplies like a toilet brush and bathroom cleaner. 

Setting up the bathroom would cost between $20 to $100. 

Miscellaneous Items You’ll Need at the Ready

Miscellaneous Items You'll Need at the Ready

Your first apartment checklist should also account for other apartment essentials that do not fall under any special section or category. For example, cleaning supplies like a vacuum, mop and broom for cleaning your new apartment. A budget of $ 30 – $100 would cover these items. 

There would also be a need for tools like screwdrivers, hammers, and measuring tape. These would come in handy for assembling furniture and fixing things. They range between $10-$30. 

For your electronics, you should make provisions for extension cords, power strips, and batteries. They ensure you have power where you need it and cost between $10-$20. 

Importantly, your miscellaneous budget should cover safety items like a first aid kit and smoke detector in case of emergencies. These would go for $20-$50. 

How Much Does It Cost to Move into Your First Apartment in California?

Generally, when moving, you need to account for payment for professional movers, rental trucks, and packing supplies. You would also have to bother with utility setup fees for electricity, water, gas, and internet. All these will come together to determine the amount you will spend on the moving process. 

The cost of moving depends on the number of items you have, which also depends on the number of rooms in your new apartment. However, the moving cost for a 1 bedroom apartment ranges between $300 to $1,500. 

Other factors that affect moving costs include distance, volume and weight of belongings, and accessibility. Furthermore, the time of the year also stands as a factor. Moving costs are higher during the peak seasons (summer months) and lower during off-peak times (late fall and winter).

Tips for a Smooth Move

Tips for a Smooth Move

With proper planning and a few handy tips, you can ensure your move goes smoothly and efficiently. Here’s a guide to help you through the process:

Budgeting and Saving

Before moving, you should budget for your security deposit, first month’s rent, and application fees. There should also be a budget for your monthly expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, and internet. We recommend the 50-30-20 rule to help you with budgeting and saving. This entails allocating 50% of your income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings. 

To save better, indulge in thrift shopping. You can find affordable items at Goodwill, garage sales, and Facebook Marketplace. You should also engage in DIY projects like creating your own decor and furniture to save money. Furthermore, budgeting apps like Quicken Simplifi, GoodBudget, and EveryDollar can help you track spending and manage your budget.

Important Tasks Before Moving In

Before moving in, you must inspect the apartment to check for damages. If there are any, ensure that you document existing issues. You should also test appliances to ensure that everything works properly. 

Next, set up your utilities, such as electricity and water. For the internet, schedule installation as soon as possible. 

Additionally, you would need to change your address. This includes updating important documents like informing your bank, employer, and any subscription services. You should also fill out a change of address form. 

Then, plan your move by hiring movers. However, if you want to do it yourself, you should rent a truck. It also comes in handy to ask for help from friends and family to make the move easier. 

For a hassle-free move, consider renting our sturdy moving boxes. They come with dollies and other packing supplies to ensure your belongings are safe and secure.

Settling In and Making It Home

Settling In and Making It Home

After moving, the next step is to unpack and settle in. When you get to your new home, try to unpack the items you need immediately. However, do not rush the process. It is best to organize as you go. 

Then to make this place home, you need to personalize it. You can add personal touches through photos, plants, and decorations. You can also use DIY projects to personalize the apartment. 

Furthermore, try to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood. You can do this by exploring local shops and introducing yourself to your neighbors. This helps build a sense of community. 

Once you’ve settled into your new home, call your friends and family over to visit. You are sure to create lasting memories! 

Ready to Move into Your First Apartment?

Moving into your first apartment comes with excitement and a fair share of challenges. You should use our first apartment checklist as a guide to ensure you have a stress-free moving process. 

Additionally, there are some important tasks you must do before moving into your own apartment. This includes inspecting the apartment, setting up utilities, changing address, and planning your move. 

For a hassle-free move, Stack Moves offers reliable moving boxes for rent, complete with dollies and labels to ensure your belongings are transported safely. The best part? We offer all of these at affordable pricing! Contact us today! 


What should I buy first for my new apartment?

Start with essential items such as a bed, basic kitchen supplies, and cleaning products.

How can I save money when moving into my first apartment?

Consider thrift stores for furniture and DIY projects, and use budgeting apps to manage expenses.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when moving into a first apartment?

Avoid overpacking, neglecting to measure spaces, and forgetting to set up utilities in advance.

How do I make my first apartment feel like home?

Personalize your space with décor, photos, and plants. Take your time to unpack and organize.

How do I prepare for the first night in my new apartment?

Pack an overnight bag with essentials like toiletries, a change of clothes, and basic kitchen items.

Rent Plastic Bins for Your Move!

Moving with cardboard boxes is a pain. Get pre-assembled bins delivered to your door and move hassle-free with Stack!

Stack eliminates the need for you to source, break down, or fill up your trash can with cardboard boxes.