Life in college this year has been a little… inconsistent. Current housing conditions seem to change campus to campus, semester to semester. All virtual. Hybrid learning. In person. No persons. Even 14-day quarantine shutdowns force students back to Zoom.
With all the unpredictability surrounding the pandemic, you never know when a dorm will be open or if you can even stay on campus. Living in an off-campus apartment has always been a luxury option, but this year it may be a necessary option. Many are moving into neighborhood apartments at the beginning of the fall semester and many are deciding to do it for the spring. These days, it’s not unreasonable to even move to an apartment mid-semester.
College essentials you’ll need in your apartment
You have a lot on your mind, and the thought of inventorying every little thing you need to pack to move into a new apartment — or move back in for a new semester — might be a little overwhelming. Whether you’re a first-time renter or a veteran mover, having an easy-to-use college apartment checklist might help out an awful lot.
Below you’ll find a fairly comprehensive list of the college essentials you’ll need to pack up and move into your off-campus apartment. You can also download our checklist to reference whenever you want.
Just be sure to check in with your roommates to ensure you aren’t duplicating items you only need one of and that your styles match.
Jump ahead by room:
Of all the rooms in your apartment, your living room is the one that will take the most coordination with your future roommates to keep from having two or three or four of everything. This mostly goes for furniture (everyone can’t have their favorite couch) and electronics (multiple TVs playing at once isn’t a great look).
Don’t forget: Your roommates might use the living room as their remote class workspace, so be sure to keep that in mind when decorating. Use the space you have available to the best for all parties. You can set up a study spot, a work spot, a binging spot and a lounging spot — or any spots you like — and then know how to appropriately pack and furnish it.
Keep it bright with lamps and roomy for relaxing. Cover floors with comfortable rugs and blankets because you’ll be sure to spend time spread out on the floor, and follow your lease guidelines for what you can place on the walls and how.
- Couch, seats and ottoman
- Coffee and end tables
- Decorative pillows and throw blankets
- Entertainment center or TV stand
- Floor lamps
- Smart TV with Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick or Roku
- Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video accounts
- Speakers or sound bar
- Laptop and smartphone
- Chargers, extension cords, power strips and HDMI cables
- Wi-Fi router and extenders
- Gaming console
- Blu-ray or DVD players (if you’re old school)
- Google Home or Alexa
- Printer and paper
- Area rug
- Dry erase board or bulletin board
- Bookcase and books
- Pictures and paintings, frames and hooks
- Clock and calendar
Conversely, there will be no room more personal and personalized than your bedroom. Even if you have a roommate who is quite literally your bedroom-mate, you will be responsible for packing and filling the entire room with your stuff intended just for you. This is your spot to snag (hopefully more than four hours of) sleep. It’s your private study carrel. It’s where you explore the fringes of Hulu by yourself. And where you may have some sleepovers.
In general, buying cheaper or used furniture will save you some time and money, but in your bedroom, don’t skimp on your bed frame and mattress. Not only do you want the best night’s sleep, but it will likely follow you around for a few years. And try to create a work/study desk area that maximizes the ways you concentrate best for max productivity.
And don’t underestimate how important your closet and storage spaces are. There’s little doubt that you’ll pack too much and you’ll buy a lot of things over the semester, as well. Know where all of your college essentials will go.
- Bed with frame, box spring and mattress
- Desk and desk chair
- Trash bin
- Area rug
- Alarm clock
- Full-length and hand mirrors
- School supplies, scissors, tape, stapler, pens and markers
- Lap desk
- Sheets and pillow cases
- Mattress pad
- Duvet cover
- Under-the-bed boxes
- Closet organizer
- Shoe rack
- Laundry basket and hamper
- Jackets and coats
- Rain gear
- Winter gear
The bathroom, however, is a terrible combination of shared common area and most personal space. Before you furnish your bathroom, make sure you discuss with roommates how much or how little you want to share.
Sharing toiletry and hair care items can save money and sharing hair dryers and towel sets can save limited space. But your bathroom routine is very personal, so no one can fault you for wanting to have your own stuff.
You’re most likely going to have a lot of personal college apartment checklist items from cosmetics to over-the-counter medicines to electric toothbrushes, so consider your storage options carefully and minimize space. And maybe if you buy the cleaning supplies, that means you can guilt a roommate into doing the actual cleaning.
- Bath towels, hand towels and washcloths
- Bathmat and bathroom rugs
- Shower curtain
- Wall decorations
- Hand soap and bath soap
- Shower gel, body wash and face wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Nail clippers
- Razors and shave gel
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair brushes and hair products
- Hair dryer, straightener and curling iron
- Medicine, aspirin, vitamins, Band-Aids and feminine products
- Shower caddy
- Drawer organizers
- Towel and over-the-door hooks
- Toothbrush holder
- Soap dish
- Toilet brush and cleaner
- Toilet paper and tissues
Kitchen / dining room
How you set up your kitchen and dining area is going to depend on how much cooking you’re going to do. But even if you Uber Eats every night or have a campus meal plan, the odds are that you’ll spend more time cooking than you thought you would. That’s why you need to have a kitchen at least minimally stocked with both ingredient and utensil college essentials and appliances, even if you don’t know a colander from a potato ricer.
Give yourself enough equipment to at least reheat leftovers and mix up some study food better than a bag of ramen. Exploring how to cook is an important skill to learn. But if you’re already an apartment chef extraordinaire, you’re going to want to make sure you’re well stocked with all the stuff you’ll need to wow your roommates and neighbors.
And like in any other room, storage is at a premium. Be sure to coordinate with roommates so you each have enough pantry, fridge and freezer space for all the take-out containers, ice cream and bags of chips for everyone, as well as only one slow cooker and Instapot. And don’t forget to pack up any local foods from home you can’t get at school.
- Dining table and chairs
- A variety of plates
- Cereal and soup bowls
- Glasses and plastic cups
- Coffee mugs
- Napkins and paper towels
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Large and small pots
- Non-stick frying pan
- Baking pans and trays
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Knife set and cutting board
- Whisk and wooden spoons
- Can and bottle openers
- Pizza cutter
- Ice cube trays
- Flour and sugar
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Spices, salt and peppers, garlic powder and onion powder
- Cinnamon and nutmeg
- Cooking oils and non-stick spray
- Condiments, ketchup and mustard
- Coffeemaker and tea kettle
- Toaster or toaster oven and oven mitts
- Slow cooker or crockpot
- Portable electric grill
- Brita filter
Cleaning and storage
- Sponges and dish soap
- Drying rack
- Dishwasher detergent or pods
- Kitchen trash can and bags
- Reusable grocery bags
- Storage containers
- Aluminum foil, plastic wrap and Ziploc bags
- Paper towels and holder
If you haven’t picked up on the theme yet, storage is a big consideration when creating your college apartment checklist. Hopefully, your place comes with ample designated storage areas, such as a front closet, linen closet, extra drawers and under-sink spots, as well as maybe even a water heater closet, under-stair storage and attic.
These are the areas where you’ll need to store everything that doesn’t go somewhere else, including laundry items, extra towels and sheets, Tupperware, coats, cleaning sprays and hardware accessories. There are a number of college essentials that stay out of the way until you need them to keep your place clean and safe.
- Laundry detergent or pods and fabric softener
- All-purpose spray cleaner
- Glass cleaner
- Broom, Swiffer duster, mop, Dustbuster and vacuum
- Flatiron, handheld steamer and ironing board
- Stain remover and wrinkle release spray
- Lysol wipes, Lysol spray, hand sanitizer, masks
- First-aid kit
- Sewing kit
- Tool kit with hammer, screwdrivers, wrench, nails and screws
- Fire extinguisher and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Copies of your lease
- Travel bags and backpacks
Customize your college apartment checklist
As comforting and turnkey living in a dorm is, most college students live off-campus. In fact, as of 2016, nearly 90 percent do, a number that was likely to have gone up this year.
For many of you, this will be your first time living in your own place, having to furnish, decorate and occupy your own space. Even for those that have lived off-campus before, remembering and coordinating all the college essentials to bring without downloading a comprehensive college apartment checklist is daunting.
From big items like couches and boxsprings to appliances like coffeemakers and hair curlers to small items like scissors and cereal bowls, there are a slew of college essentials to remember to mark off your checklist. Just be sure to include tools, cleaning supplies and electronic cords, and coordinate with your roommates to have exactly as much of everything as you need.