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The Ultimate First College Apartment Checklist: 2024 Must Have List

Before you start shopping check out our ultimate first college apartment checklist. It includes everything you really need this year!

Moving into a first college apartment is a big step.

Many students live in a dorm during their freshman year of college.

Others may choose to live in the dormitory for their second year as well.

However, at some point, the majority of students find off-campus housing.

We shared some great tips for renting an apartment while in college that you may want to check out too.

A first apartment is a place to call your student’s very own…well maybe not ALL their own since many college students have roommates.

But still…no more tiny dorm rooms!


And now that they’ll have more space they may need more things for off-campus living.

Many newer college apartment complexes are designed for each student to have a small bedroom often with a bathroom, and a shared living room and kitchen.

And if you’re lucky it may even come furnished and have in-unit laundry.


Keep reading & get a free printable checklist of essentials that your student will need for their apartment.

Why Should You Use Our College Apartment Essential List?

A quick Google search will bring you to lots & lots of apartment checklists.

You’ll find so many that you may not know which one is best.

Believe us because we’re moms just like you!

We’ve been there too…feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything they need.

But don’t worry…we’ve got you covered!

Trust us…two moms who’ve moved kids into six different rentals at four different universities.

Left kids at college dorms for the first time driving back home with tears rolling down our faces.

We’ve learned a lot along the way not only from our own experiences with our college students but also from readers like you who have emailed us to share their tips too.

We hope to help you by sharing these articles about our experiences.

Will Your College Apartment Be Furnished or Not?

parents with male student in first college apartment with flags hanging on wall and bed to the right with window behind

When Anne’s son moved into a four-bedroom, four-bath unit with three roommates, not only did they need to get all the essentials for moving into a college apartment, but they also needed to furnish it.

Rent may be less expensive for an unfurnished apartment but you will have to provide all the furnishings.

So be sure to factor that added cost in when looking for a college apartment to rent.

Students can always bring furniture from home but then they may have an empty room on breaks from school if they plan to come home.

Another way to save money when furnishing an apartment is to look for deals on gently used pieces on Facebook marketplace or garage sales.

If you’re handy you could build tables, shelves, or other pieces and then only have to purchase sofas and mattresses.

family standing together in students first college apartment

AnnMarie’s oldest son Jake moved into his first college apartment during his second year at his university.

It was a five-bedroom, four-bathroom unit that he lived in with four friends for two years.

He shared a bathroom with one of his roommates but did have his own bedroom.

During his last year at college, Jake moved to a three-bedroom, two-bath unit.

This time he lucked out and got the room with a private bathroom which he was really excited about since he shared a bathroom the previous two years.

family outside college apartment building after moving student in

AnnMarie’s other son Gavin moved into a four-bed/four-bath unit in a new apartment building last year.

Talk about luck!

Everything was brand new!

There are so many options for apartments off campus…different bedroom and bathroom combinations, large complexes, rental houses, and more.

Now that we’ve both gone through this process a few times and Anne is getting her daughter ready to move into her first apartment we thought we’d put together a checklist of essential items needed for you.

We promise…you’ve totally got this…just download our printable First College Apartment Checklist by clicking the button below.

What Do You Need for a College Apartment?

college apartment items including comforter, cleaning and cooking supplies with clipboard and printed checklist in galvanized organizer

In an apartment, there’ll be a kitchen, living space, bathroom, and bedroom so your student will most likely need additional items they didn’t have while they lived in a college dorm room.

Let’s talk about each of these spaces and what your student needs.

Plus, you get to see some fun pictures of our boys and their real-life apartments.

And you don’t want to miss the things you didn’t think you needed at the end of this post!

Posts on Simply2Moms may contain affiliate links which means we may earn a small commission on purchases at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  You can read our full disclosure policy here.

What Essentials are Needed for a College Apartment Kitchen

college students standing around kitchen island with cabinets and stove on wall behind them in kitchen

One of the best things about living in an apartment instead of living in a dorm is the kitchen.

Even if your student still has a meal plan on campus, it’s nice to have a kitchen so that they can make a meal or snack any time of the day or night.

new open kitchen concept room in college apartment

Shopping for kitchen essentials can be a lot of fun with our checklist so that they get exactly what they really need and not items that may never be used.

Here is a complete list of kitchen must-haves:

Click on any image to shop items from this post

collage of items to shop for a first college apartment kitchen

Sources: measuring cup spoon set | toaster | kitchen utensils | table and chair set | acrylic glasses | food storage containers | pot holders and dishtowels | coffee pot | silverware set | cookware set | mixing bowl set | dishes

But if your student loves to cook then you may want to pack some extra things like an air fryer, blender, crockpot, or Instant Pot.

Let your son or daughter give some insight into how often they’ll be cooking.

Some of these extra items can also be great holiday gifts later in the semester.

How to Style Your College Apartment Living Room

living room with two couches coffee table and large tv on media cabinet with window on side wall in college apartment

The living space will be the place where students gather with roommates and friends so they’ll want it to be inviting and comfortable.

This is a fun spot to decorate with roommates to create a cool place to hang out together.

Check out this list of living room items:

college student in new living room space in college apartment

After getting the basics…ya know a big tv and comfy couches…add in some decor like an area rug, throw pillows, curtains, etc…

Or if the apartment comes furnished then all they have to worry about is making their space cozy.

Click on any image to shop items from this post

collage of products for 1st college living room

Sources: couch | coffee table | tv stand | 43″ television | saucer chair | curtains | throw pillows | area rug | throw blanket | floor lamp

How to Shop for a College Apartment Bathroom

bathroom supplies laying on vanity sink in apartment bathroom

Your student may be lucky enough to have their own bathroom in their apartment.

But if not and they have to share with a roommate or two that’s still better than sharing a dorm bathroom with an entire floor of other students.

Don’t ya think so??

bathroom with view of striped shower curtain over tub and toilet next to tub

Be sure to check the height of the shower because one of the apartments we moved a student into required an extra-long shower curtain.

We were able to order a 72″ x 84″ shower curtain on Amazon.

Here is a list of bathroom necessities:

A couple of items that you don’t have to have in your bathroom but may be kinda nice would be under-sink organizers or over-the-door hook.

Click on any image to shop items from this post

collage of 1st college apartment bathroom supplies

Sources: shower curtain | shower rings | bath towel set | bath mat | wastebasket | toilet bowl brush and plunger | storage bin organizers | over-the-door hook hanger

How to Decorate a College Apartment Bedroom

student standing next to bed in first college apartment with flags hanging on wall next to window behind him

If your son or daughter has roommates then their bedroom may be the only space that is just for them so they’ll be able to decorate it exactly how they want.

Let them take the lead on how they want to style their new bedroom.

After all, it is their space and they probably coordinated the other rooms in their apartment with roommates.

student desk with whiteboard leaning against wall on top of desk and rolling desk chair next to desk

The bedroom will probably also be a place where they’ll spend a lot of time doing school work and studying so a good work area is really important.

Be sure your student has enough room to spread out while writing papers or reviewing for exams.

Check to see if they have adequate outlets for computers and other technology.

college apartment bed with cozy bedding and window to side of room

And of course, getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to good grades so make their bed super comfy!

You can find cozy but affordable bedding to create the perfect spot for your student to rest.

Many college apartments provide full xl beds…so be sure to check the size of the bed before you move your student in and find out the sheets don’t fit.

This list includes everything our own students said they had to have:

Click on any image to shop items from this post

Sources: desk | desk chair |mattress protector | memory foam pad | sheets | comforter | hanging closet organizer | fan | storage bags | desk lamp

Although decor isn’t necessary it is fun to add some LED strip lights, wall art, a full-length mirror, and even curtains in your bedroom.

Just remember decorating a first apartment doesn’t have to be expensive.

Students can take some of their decor from home, shop consignment stores, or even diy artwork to style their new space.

Off-Campus Housing Laundry Checklist

Some college apartments have in-unit washing machines and dryers which makes the chore of doing laundry so much easier than going to a separate laundry room in the complex.

Most of the things your student will need for laundry in an apartment are the same as when they lived in a dorm.

What Cleaning Supplies Will You Need for a College Apartment

paper towels and cleaning supplies displayed on top of a wooden crate

Students will need some basic cleaning supplies to keep their apartments clean because no one wants to deal with ants or even worse…roaches!

So, be sure to get these items on our checklist to keep your place in tip-top shape!

Items You May Not Have Considered for a College Apartment

student standing outside closed apartment door

There are always those things you didn’t realize your student needed or you didn’t even think about.

But don’t worry here are a few of those items you don’t want to forget…

Be sure to print out our ultimate first college apartment checklist so you can keep it handy while preparing for the big day!

Just click this button…

More Helpful Posts for Sending Kids to College

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact us or leave a comment!

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