Ultimate Shopping List for First-Time Renters

Stocking up for your very first apartment? Own that IKEA trip with our ready-made shopping list. | Photo courtesy of Flickr user yasuhirotao.

Moving into an apartment or rental house for the first time?

You’ll probably be shocked at how much stuff — just sheer, sheer volumes of stuff — you need to buy.

If you’re like many other first-time renters, you might not have ever considered the fact that you’d need to spend your hard-earned money on household items like can-openers or plates come from. All your life, these items have just magically appeared.

But that’s about to change.

Here’s the ultimate shopping list. Pull this up on your mobile phone (or — gasp! — print it) when you hit the stores, and voila — you’ll be set.


  • Mattress
  • Boxspring
  • Bed frame and headboard
  • Sheets and Pillowcase (preferably two sets, so you can use one while washing the other)
  • Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Dresser
  • Hangers
  • Wall decorations / Art
  • Alarm clock (optional; you could use the one on your phone)
  • Nightstand / Bedside table
  • Bedside light
  • Curtains
  • Eye mask and earplugs (if you’re living on a high-traffic, busy road or if you move somewhere with old windows)


  • Trash can and trash bags
  • Plunger
  • Toilet brush / toilet cleaning liquid
  • Shower curtain and liner (and shower rod, unless one is provided)
  • Bathmat
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizing cream, mouthwash, acne treatment, exfoliant, deodorant, cotton balls, Q-tips, bandaids, nail clippers, small pair of scissors, tweezer
  • Basket or tray to hold those products (if you’re living with roommates)
  • Toothbrush holder (you don’t want to just lay it on the vanity … )
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hand soap


  • Cutting board
  • Knives and knife block / holder
  • Can-opener, wine-bottle opener, beer-bottle opener
  • Glasses, mugs/cups, wine glasses
  • Forks, spoons, butter knives, and a plastic dividing drawer to house these
  • Dishwasher detergent and Rinse-Aid
  • Dishwashing hand soap (Caution: Don’t use this in the dishwasher!)
  • Sponges
  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Dish-drying rack and microfiber absorbent cloth
  • Spatula, stirring spoons, ladles
  • Pots and pans (in a variety of sizes)
  • Baking trays (both flat metal cookie sheets as well as glass casserole dishes)
  • Ice cube trays
  • Spice rack with basics like salt, pepper, garlic, ginger
  • Hand towels
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee maker
  • Tea kettle (even if you don’t drink tea, it’s great for boiling water)
  • Brillo pads (for heavy scrubbing)

Living Room

  • Couch
  • TV
  • Coffee table
  • Floor lamp
  • Wall art / decorations
  • Cable box / modem
  • End-table
  • Curtains

Dining Room

  • Dining table and chairs (if you plan on entertaining)
  • Placemats

Laundry Nook

  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Clothes hamper
  • Iron / Ironing board

Cleaning Supplies

  • Glass cleaner (for mirrors) and microfiber rag
  • Bathtub cleaner
  • Mold/mildew tile cleaner (especially if you live in a humid area)
  • All-purpose spray cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Mop, mopping bucket, mop-head refills, and floor-cleaning liquid
  • Wood polish (for wooden floors and fireplace mantles)
  • Vacuum (or splurge on a Roomba)
  • Feather duster with long arm (for reaching high spots)
  • Lots of rags

Stuff That’s Nice to Have

  • Small file cabinet (along with file folders)
  • Desk and office chair
  • Printer / scanner
  • Rugs for hardwood/tile floor
  • Plastic tubs or baskets for storage
  • Bookshelf

Final Thoughts

Whew! Are you done yet?

Those are just the basics — we haven’t delved down the rabbit hole of buying things like an ice-cream scooper, pie trays, blenders or food processors. We’ve (mostly) stuck to the bare-bones, just to get you started.

Moving into your own place will require a ton of stuff, probably more than you realize. This is a long list, and nothing on it is particularly luxurious. (Nobody’s going to accuse you of being a high-rolling big-spender when you buy an ironing board and some mouthwash.)

Best advice: Buy used items. Save an extra few hundred dollars before you make your move. Ask for hand-me-downs from friends and family. Get a roommate. Shop at low-cost stores like Ikea, Target and HomeGoods.

And whatever you do, don’t skimp on basic hygiene and cleaning supplies like kitchen sponges. (Pretty please?)