Apartment Necessities: Your Moving Checklist

Moving can be stressful. We get it. First, there’s all the initial excitement of finding a new place, getting approved, and the thrill of knowing that soon you’ll have a place all to yourself (or yourself and your roommates). There’s nothing more exciting than knowing a new home is waiting for you to make it your very own.

But then moving day starts moving closer, and you realize that you don’t have any of the things that you need to function in your own apartment. You start wishing that there was some kind of apartment fairy who would just magically fill the place with furniture, a TV, dishware, a bed, and everything else you need.

Well, we don’t have an apartment fairy on staff at McKinley. But what we do have is a dedicated team of experts on everything related to your apartment necessities. With their help, we’ve put together this full checklist and guide of all of the apartment necessities you’ll want to think about before the big move.

While each apartment and apartment-dweller is unique, we think this is an excellent starting point to help get you on the right track to living the dream in your very own apartment.

For your convenience, we’ve broken down the apartment necessities into sections:

  • Living room necessities
  • Kitchen necessities
  • Bedroom necessities
  • Bathroom necessities
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Everything else

Ready to get started? Let’s dive into the official McKinley list of apartment necessities for your upcoming move.

Apartment Living Room Necessities

Your living room is the gathering place of your new apartment. It’s where you and guests that visit will congregate, hang out, watch movies, and gossip about neighbors in your building (come on, we all do it).

With that in mind, choosing the right essentials for your living room is an important task. The good news is that you don’t have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to finish your living room. There are plenty of options for finding budget-friendly furniture that will suit your needs and tastes.

Here are some of the apartment living room essentials you’ll want to consider.


Every great apartment needs a comfortable, stylish sofa. Don’t feel like you need to go for something hugely expensive or over-the-top. However, you do want something that’s going to be comfortable after a long day of work when you just want to post up and watch some Netflix. You should also choose something that can fit 2-3 people comfortably, especially if you plan to have guests over regularly.

Tip: Your sofa is a large presence in your décor—it takes up a lot of space. If you’re worried about it making a smaller apartment look overfilled, choose a sofa with a lighter color upholstery. This helps preserve an airy, less heavy feeling in your apartment.


We list this in our ‘apartment necessities’ because for many people a TV of some kind is still a necessity, but you’re perfectly welcome to choose not to have one. After all, lots of people watch the majority of their TV on their laptop or phone. That said, if you like having a bigger screen—and somewhere to put on the game or movie when you have friends over— finding a TV will probably be a high priority. Fortunately, TVs are cheaper than ever. Just don’t fall into the trap of needing to buy the highest resolution, most advanced and high-tech TV ever. Even cheaper TVs are impressive these days.

Television Stand

We recommend a TV stand with some built-in storage, which will help provide more ways for you to keep your home clutter-free and organized. (For more decluttering tips, check out our post on how to declutter your apartment.) You don’t even have to only store TV-related things there—anything you want available but out of sight will do.

Coffee Table

Your coffee table helps tie together your living room seating and can be a great way to make a style statement with your décor. Just make sure that you take size into consideration. If your apartment living area is on the smaller side, a massive coffee table can make navigating the space difficult and lead to lots of bumped knees. Choose something stylish, reasonably sized, and that will stand up to heavy use.

Additional Seating

If you like to have guests over and entertain, your living room sofa may not be enough. However, filling up your space with seating might not make sense when it’s just you for the majority of the time. Our favorite solution? Foldable seating that can be stored away when not in use but still looks good when set out in your living area. (For other apartment hacks, check out this guide on the 12 best DIY apartment hacks.)


One of the best ways to warm up your living area is by adding lamps and other alternatives to overhead lighting, which can be harsh and less than inviting. Even just a couple of lamps, whether tall floor lamps or table-sized options, can really make your apartment feel lived-in and comfortable for you and any visitors you may have.

Apartment Kitchen Necessities

Your apartment’s kitchen is where the magic happens, and by magic, we mean glorious food. Whether you’re a gourmand who plans to cook themselves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, or you’re an expert at ordering carryout whose kitchen will mainly serve as a place to reheat leftovers, there are some basic essentials you’ll want to have on hand for whenever the urge to chow down arrives.

Here are some of the most important apartment necessities for your kitchen.

gray steel 3-door refrigerator near modular kitchen


If your apartment kitchen doubles as your dining area, you’ll want a table that’s small enough to keep your space open while also providing enough room for at least you and a few others. If you have a separate dining space and table, you might want to consider a small ‘breakfast nook’ style table for grabbing a quick bite in the morning before you head out for the day. Consider something stool-height to add variety.


You’ll need these to pair with your kitchen table—just make sure they’re the right height for whichever table you choose. Inexpensive chairs can be found at a range of home furnishing stores, and you can also have a lot of luck at secondhand stores or thrift shops.

Pots & Pans

You don’t have to furnish your kitchen like you’re Gordon Ramsey, but you’ll definitely want at least a few pots and pans for fixing yourself and your guest’s meals. If you only do some basic cooking, then a single pot for boiling water and a single pan for frying eggs might do just fine. If you really like to cook, you might want to invest in some different sized pots and pans.


Some people tend to go overboard and buy way more dishware than they need—what if I have 12 guests over for dinner?! But the truth is that for special occasions, there’s always the option to use paper plates and bowls or ask guests to bring extra. To get you started, a simple dishware set of four plates, four small plates, and four bowls will do the job.

flat-lay photography of stem glasses, saucers, plate, and bread and butter knives


The same goes for your cutlery—four knives, four forks, and four spoons should be just fine when you first move into your place. If you find yourself regularly wishing for more, you can always add to your set later down the line. Remember—less cutlery means less dishwashing, which is especially important if your unit doesn’t happen to have a dishwasher.

Cutting Board

This is an essential item many people overlook, but it’s worth investing in even an ultra-cheap cutting board. You don’t want to be cutting directly on your counter, damaging it, and losing your deposit. This can also damage your knives themselves. Instead, cut on a dedicated cutting board as nature intended. It doesn’t have to be some fancy, perfectly polished cherry wood creation either. It’s for, you know, cutting things on.

Baking Sheet

We love cookies. You probably love cookies, too. If you want to be able to make cookies (and meals, or whatever) from the comfort of home, you’re going to need a baking sheet. It can also be used for chicken breasts, frozen foods, and a whole lot more. Don’t worry about going cheap here, either. Even a cheap baking sheet can last you for years.

  • Glasses
  • Knives
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Oven Mitt
  • Dish Towels
  • Drying Rack
  • Garbage Can

Apartment Bedroom Necessities

Some people don’t put enough effort into making their bedroom shine, and it’s a real shame. They think that because most guests won’t spend time in the bedroom, it’s not worth making a wonderful place to be. But the most important person in your apartment is you, and your bedroom will likely be where you spend a huge amount of time in your apartment. It’s also where you’ll catch your all-important rest and the way you decorate your bedroom will set the tone for how restful and comforting the space actually is.

Don’t short yourself when it comes to the essential elements of your bedroom. You want to make sure that your bedroom represents and meets your unique needs, so design it based on what truly makes you feel at home. Choose bedding, pillows, and other essentials that are tailored to what you like, rather than just what’s easy or cheapest. We want you to save money, but we also want you to enjoy the time you spend in your own home.

Here are the apartment necessities to consider for your bedroom.

black table lamp on nightstand


You don’t have to spend thousands on your mattress, especially with so many quality, inexpensive mattress brands all over the internet these days. However, you spend more time on your mattress than on any other item of furniture in your entire life. It’s so important that it’s comfortable and enjoyable for you. If you order a mattress and it’s not doing it for you, return it. It might seem like a pain, but not as big of a pain as you’ll have in your back after just a few nights on a bad bed.

Bed Frame

Whether you go for a fancy frame with a beautiful headboard or something basic that’s simply a place to put your mattress on, you’ll probably want some sort of bed frame—if only for the psychological element of lifting yourself up off the floor. That said, some people like sleeping close to the floor, so who are we to judge? It does remove the risk of monster attacks from below.


Take our advice—spend an extra $10 or $20 on nicer sheets. This is the part of your bed that’s actually touching your skin every night, so it’s worth paying a little more if you can afford it to get that nice, luxuriously soft feeling.


That same advice goes for pillows— please oh please don’t sleep on an ancient, $5 pillow you found in your grandma’s crawl space once when visiting over the holidays. Your neck and back will start protesting after just a night or two of sleeping on a terrible pillow. Trust us.


There are all kinds of comforters designed for people who like different things. Like to be warm? Choose a down comforter. Like to be cooler? Choose one with plenty of airflow. Your comforter can even just be your favorite blanket.

  • Storage
  • Closet Organization
  • Lighting

Apartment Bathroom Necessities

Ahh, the bathroom. It’s not just the place you rush to after you’ve had one too glasses of wine while binge-watching whatever show you’re currently obsessed with at the time. It’s also where you begin your days—where you shower or bathe, get dressed, put on makeup if you’re so inclined, and give yourself that last check before heading out the door.

It’s also where you end your days— washing off the stress of work, brushing your teeth, taking out your contacts to finally give your eyes a rest.

Your bathroom should have all the essentials you need to be comfortable and take care of all the self-care tasks that are a part of your life. They should also be able to address the basic needs of your guests, too.

Here are the apartment necessities that you’ll need to have for your bathroom:

white ceramic toilet bowl near vanity combo


Our advice when it comes to your bathroom towels— go for the ‘sheet’ size rather than the ‘towel’ size. Trying to dry yourself off with a towel that barely fits around your midriff should be reserved for cheap motels, not your own home.


Do you know what’s not fun? Slipping and banging your head when you step out of the shower onto a wet, slippery floor. Invest in a bath mat for your own safety (and because they’ll help warm up your bathroom décor).

Shower Curtain & Liner

If your shower features a shower rod style design rather than a glass-enclosed style, you’ll need a shower curtain. Some curtains are designed with a liner built-in, which will save you having to buy that separately.

Wall Hook(s)

Great for the bathroom, but also great to have in your apartment generally. Stickable wall hocks can be used to hang towels, utensils, and a host of other things around your home to make it more organized.

Toothbrush Holders

Don’t just lay your toothbrush down on the bathroom sink. Come on. Gross. (Also, be sure to wash your toothbrush holder regularly.)

  • Toilet Brush
  • Plunger
  • Toilet Paper
  • Trash Can

Cleaning Supplies

Every apartment needs a cleaning bucket. You know what we’re talking about— that old bucket where you throw all of your trash bags, a paper towel roll, cleaning sprays, and more to be carried around on the Saturday mornings when you actually feel motivated enough to give the place a clean.

Starting off your apartment life with a strong cleaning kit is important. You might think your place will stay pristine after the pre-move-in cleaning provided by the previous tenant or rental agency, but you’d be surprised by how quickly the everyday aspects of living result in a living space that’s less than tidy and hygienic.

Plus, staying on top of your cleaning needs regularly means that you won’t get hit with the need to do a massive, exhausting ultra-cleaning-day once every few months.

Here are the basic cleaning supplies you should start with. (Then, check out our guide for how to clean your apartment.)

clear spray bottle

Trash Bags

Trash goes in them, sure. But trash bags are also great for decluttering, storage, donating clothing, and a whole lot more.

Broom & Dustpan

Apartments get dusty fast if you don’t keep up with them. This will help you avoid all that—plus, dusting is actually super relaxing.

Cleaning Rags or Sponges

It’s good to have some go-to rags or sponges for cleaning, whether it’s your shower, countertops, stubborn stains on your coffee table, or anywhere else that messes can happen.

Paper Towels

Ah, the humble paper towel. Cleaning up our messes for generations with no sign of slowing down. Particularly right after move-in, you’ll be shocked by how many uses you have for these babies.


Even a basic hand vacuum will do fine for your apartment for now. It not only helps your apartment look cleaner but also helps keep dust and pollens from hanging out in your home.

  • Bathroom Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Laundry Detergent or Capsules
  • Dish Soap
  • Hand Soaps

Everything Else

assorted-color framed paintings on the wall

There are a few things that every apartment needs that don’t quite fit into the sections we’ve listed above. These are the miscellaneous things that go in closets, on walls, and in storage containers— and they’re the storage containers themselves. We think they’re all pretty important, so don’t neglect this section when you finally move into your place.

  • Frames & Wall Art
  • First Aid Kit
  • Toolkit
  • Lighting
  • Spare Keys
  • Storage Bins

Now that you’ve got the checklist to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible, there’s just one thing left to do— find the perfect apartment to move into. Thankfully, McKinley is here to make your moving process as simple and straightforward as possible. Most importantly, we’ll make sure that your search ends with you finding the perfect place for you, one that you’ll love living in for months or years to come.

Whatever your individual needs and desires for your new apartment, McKinley can help get you there. With a range of properties in cities around the nation, we can take your apartment search from stressful to wonderful—and this guide to apartment necessities is just the beginning.

Ready to start your apartment search? Start it with McKinley Apartments.

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