Moving Into A New Home: Your First Apartment Checklist

Moving and setting up a new home for the first time is exciting indeed, but it can also be stressful. This first apartment checklist will keep you organized, on track, and stress-free.

From Halifax to Sudbury, Ottawa to Calgary, Toronto to the four corners of Canada, charming apartments dwell, just waiting to become your first. Okay, maybe that’s a little anthropomorphic. And it’s possible you’re moving even further afield, like the United States or overseas. Wherever your first apartment may reside, it's bound to be an exciting journey.

One thing is for sure, however. Without some sort of checklist on hand during the process, you’re bound to feel that much more disorganized. Follow along below, and be sure to print out your very own first apartment checklist to make sure you stay on track while planning to move into your very first apartment.

Note: You may not find that every item applies to you, but where it does, make sure to include it in your pre-rental and move-in rundown.

Finding the Right Location
Side of an apartment building with balconies

At the top of the list of any first apartment checklist is the location.

Location, location, location.

Even if you're in a hurry to move out, don't sacrifice your desired location for cheaper rent or an earlier move-in date. Chances are, you'll be living in that apartment for at least a year, so take your time choosing the perfect apartment in an area that's convenient for you.

Apartment Amenities

Start thinking about what your “non-negotiables” are in terms of apartment amenities. Maybe an apartment with lots of storage space or a large bedroom is important to you. Or, maybe you’d prefer to have all of your utilities included to avoid multiple bill payments each month.

Check off the following amenity preferences that apply to you, and make sure your new apartment has them:

  • Updated kitchen appliances
  • Eat-in kitchen
  • Room for a bike
  • Spacious bedroom
  • Utilities (electricity, water, garbage, and heat) included
  • Internet and/or cable included
  • Air conditioning
  • Dishwasher
  • Storage for less frequently used items, like seasonal decorations or camping gear

Facilities and Grounds

In addition to the in-apartment amenities, you’ll also want to explore the grounds. While your first apartment complex likely won’t feature fancy add-ons like a yoga studio or a doorman, even affordable locations boast a surprising number of perks. Think:

  • Fitness center
  • Laundry facilities
  • On-site management
  • Off-street parking
  • Pet-friendly units
  • Grills and outdoor facilities
  • Pool
  • On-site recycling
  • Security

Stocking the Apartment

Modern kitchen with white cabinets, stainless steel fridge, and black accents

When you’re planning a move to your first apartment, it’s easy to get lost in dreams of string lights and perfectly placed mirrors. It’s hard to enjoy such touches, however, without the basics that make daily life possible.

Therefore, your first apartment checklist should include the basics for setting up, cleaning, eating, and hosting, among other tasks. Make sure from the beginning to give everything its own place, which will help you minimize the necessity for decluttering later.

The following categories are fewer suggestions like the above checklist portion and more necessities. Treat them as such!

Cleaning Supplies

Some of the first things you should purchase before moving into your apartment are cleaning supplies. Since you’ll likely want to give your new digs a good scrub down before you move all of your worldly possessions in, here are a few items to consider picking up:

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Sponges
  • Cleaning rags
  • Powder cleanser
  • Duster
  • Glass cleaner
  • Surface cleaner
  • Wood polish, if necessary
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Dish brush
  • Dishrag
  • Shower cleaner

Where possible, opt for green products to help the Earth, minimize allergies and reduce the chances that your pet will get sick from contact.

Dishes and Kitchenware

Your first apartment checklist should also include the following kitchen basics to make cooking and eating a breeze:

  • Pot
  • Frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Cutlery: spoons, forks, butter knives, steak knives
  • Large and small plates
  • Bowls
  • Glasses or cups
  • Mugs
  • Toaster
  • Blender
  • Microwave

Hardware and Tools

Pliers, hammer and other tools on a wooden surface

Even the lowest-maintenance apartment will occasionally need a little TLC, which means you’ll need a toolkit packed with the essential household tools. Accordingly, put these items on your first apartment checklist:

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Screwdrivers, both Phillips and flat
  • Pliers
  • Tape measure
  • Wrench
  • Flashlight
  • Painter’s tape (for taping things up without ruining paint)
  • Level to help you hang pictures and shelving straight

Pro tip: If you don’t want to buy a level, find an app on your phone! Consider Bubble Level, which is available for both Android and iPhone.

Bathroom Supplies

Obviously, the bathroom is an essential, and frequently used, space in your new apartment. You’ll spend a surprising amount of time there, so it’s worth making it comfortable and well-appointed. Be sure to include these items in your apartment checklist:

  • Four towels
  • Four hand towels
  • Four washcloths
  • Hand soap
  • Toothbrush cup
  • Shower curtain with liner
  • Bathmat
  • Sink mat


Furniture is a big “duh” for your first apartment. Think through more than just a bed and dining room table. If your apartment is small and you need more space, consider purchasing some furniture with storage capabilities. For instance, you might have a small closet, which is the only place you can store games, wrapping supplies, and extra boxes. In that case, a standing clothing rack might be just the ticket. The true necessities, however, are:

  • Bed
  • Nightstand
  • Kitchen or dining room table
  • Bedroom dresser
  • 2-4 chairs
  • Couch
  • Coffee table
  • Lamp
  • Entertainment center (if you have a television)

Bedding for You and Your Guests

Bohemian bedroom with pink bead and chunky knit blanket

No one wants to go to bed that first night in the new apartment and discover they forgot sheets!

When you were growing up, there’s a good chance your parents had multiple sets of sheets for every bed, but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself just yet. Once you start working or save for a while, you’ll have the funds to add to your linen collection. For now, just spend enough for everyone to feel comfortable and leave it at that.

Make sure you have the following for each bed in your apartment:

  • Top sheet
  • Bottom sheet
  • Duvet and cover OR quilt
  • Mattress Protector
  • Pillowcases x2

Pre-Move Planning

Once you’ve found your perfect apartment, it’s time to start packing and planning your move. Now’s the time to put the final checkmark next to the last item on your first apartment checklist: moving in.

Check out the following items and make sure they get put on your planner in the right places.


This might not feature on your first apartment checklist. However, if you’re moving far away – or if you have lots of possessions you want to keep but your parents don’t want them in their house anymore – then a storage unit might work well for you. If you’re going to use one, make sure it has:

  • Climate control
  • Tight security
  • Accessibility

Keys and Move-In Tasks

Hand holding a house key in front of a padlocked door

Before move-in day, make sure you’ve got the following dates and plans all worked out. Know when and how you will:

  • Move-in, and who will help you
  • Get the keys to the apartment
  • Do the initial walkthrough

Don’t skip this step in your excitement. The walkthrough is your chance to discover any existing issues with the apartment and put them on a list so that when you move out, you’re not penalized for them. And be sure to make a copy of all the paperwork, so you have your own proof in case of any disputes later!

Feel better about your first apartment? We thought you might. Take this checklist with you for all the steps leading up to your new apartment, and make sure to enjoy the process!

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