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Congratulations! You’re finally moving into your own place. No more roommate thawing his raw chicken near the clean dish rack. No more dorm mom side-eyeing your dating choices. No more toilet seats up, or loud music while you’re trying to sleep, or someone swiping your last avocado. You are the queen of your household, and all of your failures and triumphs belong only to you.
There is only one problem: You have nothing. Because you have only ever lived in places that belonged to other people, furnished by other people, you have very few things to your name. You have always liked this about yourself. It seemed almost virtuous to move through the world in such a state of minimalism. But now you’re settling in, putting down roots, and it’s time to nest.
You know what you need. A New Apartment Starter Pack. Read on for the 40 items to buy now so that you won’t have to spend your first week in your new place sleeping on a pallet of blankets and eating bread dipped in peanut butter. Because we know how expensive moving is, we’re keeping every suggested item below $30. You’re welcome!
1. Sleep on air.
First things first: you’ll need some place to lay your weary head. This twin-size air mattress will support you in sleep until you can get around to making your mattress purchase for your real bed. When you’re finished using it, you can deflate it and save it for when you have guests or go on a camping trip.Intex Prestige Downy Airbed Kit, $22.84 from Amazon
2. Get your sheets together.
If you’re going to sleep, you need to clothe your air mattress in a nice outfit. Nothing too fancy, just something that you won’t mind rubbing your body against for between seven and nine hours every day. These microfiber, hypoallergenic sheets are wrinkle, fade, and stain resistant. People seem to love them—after 42,648 customer reviews, they’re rated 4.4 out of 5 stars.Mellanni Bed Sheet Set, $29.70 from Amazon
3. Support yourself.
Just in case air isn’t enough to keep you feeling well-cushioned, you’ll probably want to invest in a foam pad to layer over your air mattress. This foam topper comes with a three-year warranty. Allow 48 hours for it to fully decompress after it arrives.LUCID Traditional Foam Mattress Topper, $28.52 from Amazon
4. Purchase more than one pillow.
When it comes to pillows, less is…less. Who sleeps their best with just one pillow? No one we know. Buy one pillow for your head and one that can go under or between your knees, because you deserve the best. These pillows are made of high-density, 100 percent hypoallergenic polyester microfiber, which conforms to the shape of your head.Equinox 2-Pack Bed Pillows, $26.97 from Amazon
5. Hamper your dirty clothes.
Having items early on that will help you keep your new home organized will be invaluable as you’re going through the whirlwind process of moving. This clothing hamper with a removable canvas liner can serve both as a place to store your dirty clothes and a way to transport them to and from the washer and dryer. This gets bonus points for being made of an attractive, neutral-colored bamboo, meaning you don’t need to hide it away.Honey-Can-Do Square Hamper, $17.06 from Amazon
6. Rack your wet clothes.
Air-drying clothes is a great way to cut down on energy costs and prolong the life of your outfits. Sometimes, with very delicate fabrics, we wouldn’t even dream of popping them in a traditional dryer. Make sure you have a drying rack or two available so that you don’t have to hang all your wet laundry from the doors and counters of your new home.AmazonBasics Foldable Drying Rack, $21.43 from Amazon
7. Hang your clean clothes.
There’s nothing that will turn your new apartment into a pile of chaos faster than letting your clothes—dirty and clean alike—pile up on any available surface. Load up on hangers early on so that you have a way to hang up your clean clothes in your closet.
This will also save you time in the long run, as you’ll be less likely to have to iron these outfits before wearing them. We enjoy the uniform look of these wooden suit hangers.AmazonBasics Wood Suit Hangers, $23.99 from Amazon
8. Stash your bedroom and bathroom trash.
Want to prevent your bedroom from getting junky? Be sure you have a place to store all your crumpled up receipts, gum wrappers, popsicle sticks, ripped out journal pages, used Kleenex, and old dryer sheets. Where? A trash can.
It doesn’t have to be big, and it should be somewhat stylish since it’ll likely sit out in the open. This natural wicker trash can has the rustic look you need, plus a metal wire frame to help it maintain its shape. Buy an extra one for your bathroom! It comes with a protective coating that helps prevent mold and mildew caused by humidity.Household Essentials Wicker Waste Bin, $12.99 from Amazon
9. Stay dry.
Speaking of bathrooms, you’re going to want to shower at some point in the time closely following your move-in. And wash your hands and face. And probably dry some dishes. Enter towels. Heard of them? They can help with all of that! To soak up all the wetness! Maybe you haven’t gotten fully into decorating, though, and you’re hesitant to go all-in on an expensive towel set. You don’t have to.
Just get a batch of hand towels. Not only will they serve as, yes, hand towels, but they’ll be good enough to dry you after a shower and wipe up in the kitchen, at least until you can figure out your color scheme. These 16″ × 30″ towels are made of Turkish cotton, are eco-friendly, and are dyed under high pressure to ensure long-lasting color. They also get softer with each wash.SALBAKOS Luxury Turkish Cotton Hand Towels, $25.50 from Amazon
10. Lather up.
To avoid that last-minute drugstore run for toiletries, why not just load up on what you know you’ll need in bulk during your first wave of internet purchases? You can put bar soap in the shower, near the bathroom sink, and near the kitchen sink to meet all of your body and hand washing needs.
We love the Dove Beauty Bar for sensitive skin. Not only do we have sensitive skin, but this hypoallergenic, unscented soap allows it to be used anywhere and everywhere (if you catch our drift), meaning we won’t have to be using three different soaps in the shower.Dove Beauty Bar, Sensitive Skin, $8.70 from Amazon
11. Stop pulling your hair out (until you can strain your drain).
Hair falls out. That’s life. Especially if you’re someone with curly hair who doesn’t brush regularly or wash your hair as frequently as the straight haireds, you’re going to clog that shower drain with a keratin snake so nasty you’ll wish you could unsee it, but you never, ever will.
The solution? A drain hair catcher. Not just any old one will do. Those plastic numbers will flop around over the drain and let the hair slide under. Get a quality one that will actually stop the hair from entering the drain, like this rustproof stainless steel strainer with a silicone edge designed to block foreign bodies from sneaking down the drain, rated a 4.4 out of 5 stars by nearly 700 reviewers.LEKEYE Shower Drain Hair Catcher, $9.99 from Amazon
12. Prepare for wipedown.
Your new place will need to be thoroughly wiped down, probably immediately, because the people who lived there before you were undoubtedly slobs. Clorox disinfectant wipes are our go-to for fast cleaning options, because they’re effective, easy, and can be used on most surfaces.
Of course, eventually you’ll have to invest in a wider array of cleaning options (namely, those that don’t involve your bare skin coming into contact with chemicals that could potentially trigger some allergic response), but these are perfect for initial once-overs. Use them on your toilet, sinks, counters, and stove, all while killing 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses.Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack, $10.64 from Amazon
13. Brush your bowls.
One thing Clorox wipes can’t do is clean inside of your toilet. For this task, you’ll need a brush. Choose one that can be hidden away once you’re done using it, because no one likes to stare at a toilet bowl brush.
This brush, which received a 4.6-out-of-5-star rating from over 800 customers, has a canister door that opens automatically when the toilet brush is lifted and hides it away neatly when it isn’t being used. Ventilation slots in the storage canister allow water to evaporate. It’s also white, which means you can know when to show the brush a little extra cleaning love.OXO Hideaway Compact Toilet Brush, $15.95 from Amazon
14. Prepare your throne.
A toilet brush would be kind of pointless without a solution to suds it up with. This toilet bowl cleaner contains bleach, so your bathroom seat can be extra clean and sparkly.
Just a friendly reminder to avoid mixing cleaning products, as the chemical interaction can be corrosive, or even fatal. As a rule, never mix bleach with anything but plain water, with the only exception being laundry detergent.Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach, $11.99 from Amazon
15. Give your toothbrush a home.
Toothbrushes need homes. They should be stored upright, exposed to the open air, and not touching other toothbrushes. Because you don’t want to spray disgusting microorganisms all over it, make sure that the home is between three and six feet away from your toilet bowl. While many of us store our brushes in our medicine cabinets, this may not be the best method.
“Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers,” advises the American Dental Association (ADA). “A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.” That said, the ADA doesn’t specify what they mean by “closed container” or how moist is too moist—so perhaps, if you have a bathroom that’s too small to allow for much room between your toothbrush and the toilet or your toothbrush and the shower, your best bet would be to keep your toothbrush in the cabinet, or in a different room.InterDesign York Metal Toothbrush Holder, $10.80 from Amazon
16. Become a sweeping beauty.
According to Martha Stewart, the best way to sweep is at an angle with the bristles flat on the floor to avoid kicking up dust. Start in one corner, sweeping along baseboards, and work your way toward the center of the room without lifting up the broom from the floor.
This broom and dustpan set comes with a soft angle–bristled and water-resistant broom made of environmentally friendly recycled PET bottles. It also snaps into the dustpan for upright and compact storage. The rustproof, aluminum handle has three levels of extension, stretching out to between 40 and 54 inches.Dust Pan and Broom Combo Set, $27.99 from Amazon
17. Suck it up.
You know those weird tumbleweeds of dust you find around your house? They can contain grains of sand, pollen, tiny hairs, minerals, man-made pollution, animal dander, and dead skin cells. Also dust mites, which are eight-legged, eyeless creatures that rely entirely on their sense of smell to creep around, eat, and lay eggs in the grime of your home. All it takes is a few moments of reflection on this fact to strengthen your resolve to clean more often.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one preventative measure to take with dust mites is to trap allergens by using a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter, like this portable car vacuum, which comes with two removable, washable HEPA filters. While you’re vacuuming, use a mask, and then head into another room for the 20 minutes immediately following your dust-sucking sesh to let all the allergens settle.iBoost Handheld Portable Car Vacuum, $17.99 from Amazon
18. Dry your tears (or approximately 8 to 10 ounces of moisture).
Another way you can fight dust mites is to get a dehumidifier or air conditioner that will maintain a relative humidity level of about 50 percent or lower. This mini dehumidifier will adsorb about 8 to 10 ounces of moisture, which, depending on humidity levels, may take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months to achieve. It can work in areas up to 333 cubic feet; for reference, that’s 59 times the size of a bathtub or 0.86 times the size of a concrete mixer truck.Eva-Dry Renewable Mini Dehumidifier, $14.87 from Amazon
19. Find your silver(ware) bullet.
No, this isn’t a new blender on the market—just our fumbling attempt at making a pun with the word “silver” in it. Anyway, the point is that your new kitchen needs silverware so that you can eat meals in it.
This 20-piece flatware set, made of rust-resistant stainless steel, includes 4 salad forks, 4 dinner forks, 4 teaspoons, 4 dinner spoons, and 4 dinner knives. The set can serve—you guessed it—4 people.MCIRCO 20-Piece Flatware Set, $17.99 from Amazon
20. Look sharp.
Silverware does include knives, but not the kind you need for slicing into a juicy steak, or chopping up an onion while pretending that’s the only reason you’re crying. We all know you already look sharp every single day—you’re trying so hard to adult well!—but here we’re talking about looking for sharp knives, see? For the steak, and the onion, and the tears.
This 6-piece, stainless steel set is under twenty bucks. As one reviewer noted, these won’t be the best knives on the planet (obviously), but for the price, they seem to be darn good, receiving a 4.3-out-of-5-star rating from 1,436 customer reviews.Premium Stainless Steel Kitchen Knives, $18.99 from Amazon
21. Get on board with cutting on a board.
If you give a kitchen a set of knives, it’ll ask for some cutting boards to go with it. This three-piece cutting board set is dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, non-porous, and promises not to splinter, crack, or peel. The set includes a large (16” × 11.2”), a medium (13.8” × 9.6”), and a small (11.8” × 8”) board.GORILLA GRIP Cutting Boards, $16.99 from Amazon
22. Bowl out.
Might as well invest now in a set of stainless steel mixing bowls. You can use them to mix brownie batter, marinade meat, or toss together a scrumptious salad. Made with commercial grade, rust-resistant metal, these bowls won’t stain or absorb odors and have years of good life ahead of them. Bowls hold ¾, 1.5, 3, 4, 5 and 8 quarts, respectively. The set has received an impressive 4.6 out of 5 stars from 2,589 reviews.Finedine Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls, $24.99 from Amazon
23. Eat your greens.
After you’re finished soaking your leafy greens (which you should be eating to help stave off mental decline and improve your overall health) in a water-vinegar solution using one of your stainless steel bowls, you need an entirely different bowl in order to dry them. (Food prep, like your new existence as A Person Who Stays Put, is complicated!)
This salad spinner, recommended by America’s Test Kitchen, allows for one-handed operation with a pump and brake system that’s easy to use. The drying basket holds nearly five quarts.OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner, $29.95 from Amazon
24. Weigh your options.
One of the best additions we’ve made to our kitchen life is a digital scale that allows us a simpler, faster way to track most of what we eat, no measuring cups or spoons required. We use this Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale, a stainless steel number that looks as sexy as it makes us feel.Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale, $10.88 from Amazon
25. Sip ice, ice, baby.
Hello? Are you there? Was that Vanilla Ice allusion a bit too much? We hope you’re still with us, because we are about to recommend some fancy ice cube trays that will make up for the trust you’ve just lost in us. The non-stick molds, made of BPA-free silicone, create ice spheres and two-inch blocks.
This large, luxurious ice will have you channeling Ryan Gosling in that Dirty Dancing scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love. To be clear, you will feel like an impossibly sophisticated bachelor making a woman he is trying to seduce a drink that involves orange peel.glacio Silicone Ice Cube Trays, $14.99 from Amazon
26. Use your noodle(s).
What would your new home be without the comfort of pasta? Of course, there are many other foods that this stainless steel, five-quart colander can strain, including beans, grains (even tiny ones!), fruits, and vegetables.
Strainers are also great for juicing citrus fruits—meaning this pick will come in handy when you want a delicious summer lemonade sweetened only with fruit juice—without having to choke down all the seeds and pulp. This guy is also dishwasher-safe.Bellemain Stainless Steel Colander, $19.95 from Amazon
27. Bring home the bacon (and fry it in this pan).
Or don’t, because bacon is kind of unhealthy, but do make use of this eight-inch, nonstick frying pan. (Eggs, maybe? Eggs are good for you. Or perhaps this good-lookin’ Spicy Vegan Breakfast Sausage.)
This pan is free of PFOA chemicals, is safe to clean in the dishwasher, and you can use it with metal utensils. It also features a soft-touch ergonomic handle and is oven-safe up to 365 degrees Fahrenheit.ZYLISS 8” Nonstick Fry Pan, $24.99 from Amazon
28. Be lost in the sauce.
Saucepans, that is. Here are a number of things you can use a saucepan to make: tea, hot fudge, hot chocolate, cherry sauce, balsamic reduction, macaroni and cheese, basic white rice, fromage blanc, rose cream, boiled eggs, the filling for a strawberry pie, cheese fondue, beef balls. You get the idea. The list goes on and on and on. You need a saucepan.
This stainless steel option comes with a Flavor Lock Lid, which seals in moisture and nutrients for a better-tasting and better-for-you final product.Cuisinart Classic Stainless Saucepan, $17.95 from Amazon
29. Take out the trash (again).
Perhaps the most essential place for a trash can is in the kitchen. If the bin is going to be hidden away in a drawer, you can certainly opt for any old, open-faced option, so long as you keep it clean. But if your can is going to be out in the open for anyone to see, you should get something lidded (because garbage stench is real) that is easy to clean and sleek-looking.
Also, go for a hands-free lid so that you don’t have to wash your hands every time you throw something away. This waste bin comes with a five-liter storage capacity and is made of rust-resistant steel and brushed nickel. Some might prefer a kitchen trash can that can hold a bit more, but A) a smaller size will ensure that you never have too much garbage accumulate in one room and B) a larger trash can with these features will cost you more than 30 bucks.AMG and Enchante Accessories Waste Bin, $24.99 from Amazon
30. Handle your baggage.
Whatever trash can you ultimately choose, you will need to line it with bags. Load up on your sturdy trash bag of choice. Why not live large and make it scented? (Note that these do not match in size with the above five-liter can; these bags hold 13 gallons, or about ten times that capacity. Thankfully, another of the bag’s features is five-day odor control, meaning either that you can have a bit more leeway with removing your smelly piles, or that you can spend roughly a week with a kitchen that smells like trash and a Fresh Ocean Breeze.)Glad OdorShield Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, $19.01 from Amazon
31. Become a bag lady.
You can never have too many bags! Probably whoever said this was referring to purses, but here we are referring to bags primarily made of plastic that belong in the kitchen. Welcome to your new, glamorous life!
Another kind of bag you will want around in your food space is the resealable kind, like where you might save baby carrots or a surprisingly long hair you once pulled out of your eye. Don’t forget to buy them in all different sizes, because sandwiches are all different sizes!Ziploc Gallon Storage Bags, Mega Pack, $14.99 from Amazon
32. Seal away your sadness—or your leftover chicken.
Our last therapist, at the end of every session, asked us to envision putting all of our emotions into some kind of resealable container with a little spout that allowed us to access them in small doses and shut them out whenever we needed. We always imagined a pink Tupperware.
Tupperware is handy, not only for containing past traumas, but also for storing leftover baked chicken. These containers are not pink, but they are BPA-free, with the ability to move safely from freezer to microwave to dishwasher.Glad Food Storage Containers, $3.59 from Amazon
Unless you’re planning on sucking water directly from the faucets, one of your first apartment purchases should be something to drink out of. This 12-piece glassware set is dishwasher-safe and includes four 17-ounce highball glasses, four 13-ounce double old-fashioned (DOF) glasses, and four 7-ounce juice glasses. Happy hydration!Galaxy Glassware 12-Piece Set, $29.89 from Amazon
34. Know life, liberty, and the pursuit of spatulas.
This set of silicone spatulas promises that you will “BE INSPIRED TO LOVE COOKING AGAIN” after using them. We have used silicone spatulas, and we can attest that they are incredibly versatile.
Whether you use them to scrape out the last bit of cake batter or to scramble eggs for an entire soccer team, these won’t develop the cracks and melted-crunchy edges of so many other, inferior spatulas.StarPack Premium Silicone Spatulas, $15.68 from Amazon
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher in your new apartment, it’s important to have some sponges ready to work back-up. A sponge is perfect for cleaning up tables and countertops, handwashing items that can’t go in the dishwasher, and taking care of those last few dishes that you don’t want to run an entire load for.
These non-scratch scouring pads allow you to scrub down surfaces without scratching. Extend your sponge’s life by soaking it in a vinegar solution overnight, zapping it in the microwave (make sure it’s soaked in water!) for a few minutes, or running it through a dishwasher cycle. Do this every three to four days if you regularly use the sponge. You can also save these disinfecting tricks for after a particularly dirty clean-up, like handling raw chicken.Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges, $7.57 from Amazon
36. Feel bubbly.
Sponges would be nothing without dish soap. This dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic formula is fragrance-free and contains no dyes, phosphates, or triclosan, meaning it will have your sensitive skin singing for joy. As an EPA Safer Choice Certified Product and a USDA Certified Biobased Product (95 percent), you will feel a little better if you find yourself, in a moment of archetypal feminine distress, staring forlornly out a window above the sink as you wash dishes and quietly cry.Seventh Generation Dish Liquid, $5.99 from Amazon
37. Do not measure out your life with coffee spoons.
Instead, measure out your life with actual measuring spoons—specifically, this set made of food-grade 18/8 stainless steel that includes ⅛ teaspoon, ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, ¾ teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, ½ tablespoon, and 1 tablespoon. Each utensil comes with an engraved marking of what it measures so that you don’t have to worry about it wearing off after a few cycles in the dishwasher.U-Taste Measuring Spoons, $11.94 from Amazon
38. Bake a cake.
While you’re at it, go ahead and get the matching set of measuring cups, also made of food-grade 18/8 stainless steel and engraved with measurement markings. The collection includes ⅛ cup, ¼ cup, ⅓ cup, ½ cup, ⅔ cup, ¾ cup, and 1 cup.
In fact, you should bake a cake in your new apartment and invite some friends over to help you eat it, like a housewarming party. Try this ridiculously moist-looking flourless chocolate cake recipe.U-Taste Measuring Cups, $18.94 from Amazon
39. Become a pac animal.
We spent nearly a decade washing our dishes by hand, lamenting the fact that we didn’t have a dishwasher but believing, at least, that we were doing better by the environment. Wrong! Apparently, using a dishwasher is actually the greener choice. Better stock up on these Cascade Complete ActionPacs and get to it.Cascade Complete Action Pacs, $16.46 from Amazon
40. Eat breakfast in bed, because that’s the only place you can.
Unfortunately, your new unfurnished home provides few places to sit down for a hearty meal. Until you make it to a thrift store or inherit your great aunt’s expensive dining room set, you’ll have to get creative.
One good option is eating on your air mattress bed with this foldable breakfast table made of natural bamboo, which is, according to the product description, “known to be stronger and more beautiful than regular wood.” Wonderful! Enjoy this situation while it lasts, pretending that every day is a celebration just for you.Greenco Bamboo Serving Tray, $20 from Amazon