34 Budget-Friendly First Apartment Essentials

Moving into your first apartment is a pivotal moment in your life. Freedom, self-determination, and building your own independent life are super exciting.

But being alone for the first time and running your household can also feel overwhelming. Leaving your comfort zone and creating a new one should be well-planned. This blog post collects the best first apartment essentials from the living room and kitchen to the bedroom and bathroom. 

Regardless of the obvious things like a refrigerator, washing machine, bed, or closet, we will look at first apartment essentials that probably don’t get enough thought, but are still super important in making your first apartment as comfortable as possible.

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First Apartment Essentials for the Living-Room

1.) Sofa or Futon

For many people, having a comfortable seating arrangement in the living room is an unnecessary waste of space, especially in small apartments. But a sofa or futon is crucial for hosting friends or relaxing. If your space is too limited, look for smaller armchairs or a sofa bed for a 2 in 1 solution.

As an alternative, you can combine style and functionality with a storage ottoman, providing extra seating and a discreet place to store items. 

sofa for the living-room

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2. Coffee Table

When selecting a table to serve as a central piece in a room, it is best to opt for a versatile design that offers storage options. It will help to make the most of the available space and keep the room looking organized.

Some examples of tables with storage options include coffee tables with built-in drawers and shelves or end tables with hidden compartments. An old chest used as a table to store items is a great way to add a vintage flair to your space.

living-room essentials

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3.) Bookshelves or Floating Bookcases

To make the most of your vertical space, opt for affordable bookshelves or create your floating bookcases using inexpensive materials from a hardware store.


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    4.) Coat Rack or Hooks

    Keep your entryway organized and don’t forget to buy a coat rack or wall hooks. 


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    5.) Area Rug

    A beautiful rug is an important first apartment essential that can fill the room with warmth. At the same time, it adds a nice color accent to your space without splurging. 

    rug for the living-room

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    6.) Floor or Table Lamp

    We all know the benefits of good lighting. It can transform the atmosphere and add coziness depending on the light intensity and color.

    Floor or table lamps are a good alternative to hanging lamps and illuminate the room from different corners. Thrift stores are a goldmine for unique, high-quality, and affordable finds. I’ve personally discovered some amazing treasures there that have added character and charm to my home.

    If you love to craft, you can also spice up your lamp to your liking with beads, paint, fabric, or other decorative items.


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      7.) Pillows and Throws

      Like a rug, decorative pillows or throws are inexpensive first-apartment essentials to instantly jazz up a space. Depending on your preferred style, different motifs can be used here.


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      First Apartment Essentials for the Kitchen

      8.) Cookware Set

      Even if you are not a pro at cooking, investing in a basic, but robust set of cookware is a must. You will never know when you start to swing the wooden spoon. And often a beautiful set makes you want to go on culinary adventures. There are affordable options without sacrificing quality.

      9.) Dinnerware

      The same goes for dinnerware! But avoid overbuying. Think about how many plates, bowls, etc. you need. People often tend to hoard far too many without ever using them.

      I prefer to buy mine at various flea markets and have a colorful mixed-and-matched ensemble in my cabinet. 

      colorful plates for the kitchen

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      10.) Kitchen Towels

      Kitchen towels are important first apartment essentials. You can get them at any home goods store at affordable prices.

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      11.) Toaster

      A toaster is perfect for busy mornings or when you want a simple snack. When selecting a toaster, consider your specific needs, such as the size of your countertop, the type of bread you prefer, or other features you need.

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      12.) Cutting Board, Cooking Spoons and Knives

      Invest in a good set of cutting boards, cooking spoons, and knives. Opt for wooden cutting boards and spoons, since they are more durable. Plastic ones are not so good for your health and the environment. You can find affordable options at kitchenware shops.

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      13.) Can Opener

      This is an often overlooked but important first apartment essential. You can find a durable and affordable can opener at discount stores or kitchenware outlets. 

      14.) Other Items for Your Kitchen

      Measuring cups, oven mitts, dish soap, and sponge holders are some more things you won’t regret putting on your list of first apartment essentials.

      15.) Storage Containers

      Keep your shelves and pantry organized and sort your groceries in budget-friendly containers. For more sustainability, get a set of glass containers.

      kitchen storage options

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      First Apartment Essentials for the Bedroom

      16.) Mattress Topper

      Besides a bed with a mattress (both pretty obvious as essentials for your first apartment), you can enhance the comfort by buying a comfortable mattress topper. It adds an extra layer of padding and offers support for a night of better sleep. A game-changer! 

      17.) Cotton Bedsheets

      Invest in a set of high-quality bedsheets made from breathable material like cotton. It makes a huge difference in terms of your sleeping quality since it helps regulate body temperature and provide a comfortable sleep.

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      18.) Bedside Table

      Get a small bedside table to keep all your essentials within arm’s reach, such as a lamp, alarm clock, or your current read.

      bedside table

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      19.) Rattan Storage Boxes

      Especially in small apartments, you have to use every centimeter cleverly. If possible, utilize the space under your bed for extra storage. Rattan storage boxes look very elegant and add a touch of warmth and rustic charm to your room.

      20.) Curtains or Blinds

      Here comes one of the most underrated first apartment essentials. Many people underestimate the impact of good curtains. They provide privacy and the darkness for a good night’s sleep, especially if your bed is next to the window. 

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      21.) Full-Length Mirror

      For your daily outfit checks, get a full-length mirror. This first apartment essential also fits well in other rooms and makes any space appear larger. Pro Tip: Opt for a two-in-one mirror storage.

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      22.) Laundry Hamper

      No more chaotic piles of laundry. Collect your dirty clothes in a hamper and keep your space tidy. This first apartment essential is very convenient in smaller living spaces. Also, don’t forget to buy a clothes horse. 


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      23.) Desk and Ergonomic Chair

      You will most likely spend some time at your desk, especially if you are a student or work from home. Make sure your back is protected and invest in an ergonomic chair. Marketplaces offer great combinations at affordable prices.

      first-apartment-essentials table

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      First Apartment Essentials for the Bathroom

      24.) Bath Towels

      Stock up on a set of soft and absorbent towels made from cotton. They come in many colors or patterns and can be an aesthetic way to complement the overall style of your space. One of those first apartment essentials that lets you kill two birds with one stone.

      towels for the bathroom

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      25.) Bathroom Rug

      Do you feel that your bathroom appears too cold and something is missing? Maybe a nice bathroom rug is the solution. Get a rug that not only prevents cold feet when brushing your teeth but also adds warmth and depth to the room.

      26.) Drawer Organizers

      If you are tired of your bathroom drawers being a mess, check out some affordable organizers at discount stores or online retailers. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your organizers using old shoe boxes or cardboard boxes.

      27.) Mason Jar Organizers

      Repurpose mason jars into stylish organizers for bathroom essentials. You can find mason jars at thrift stores or in bulk at affordable prices.

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      28.) Other Essentials for Your First Apartment

      Some other first apartment essentials you should add to your shopping list are a toilet brush, a trash can, a shower squeegee, a doormat, a bucket, and a cleaning mop. I know these items don’t sound fancy, but believe me, they cannot be missed. 

      DIY First Apartment Essentials

      Let’s end the list of first apartment essentials with some crafty ideas that add a personal touch to your space.

      29.) Customized Coasters

      Create personalized coasters for your table. There are different materials from plastic and ceramic to cork which can be designed to your liking. You can also make coasters out of oven-hardening clay and then paint them. This is a sweet DIY project for your first apartment.

      30.) Photos

      Pictures of loved ones will infuse your space with love and warmth. They will remind you of good times and bring a sense of nostalgia. Either create a collage wall of your favorite pictures or place them in handmade or upcycled frames.

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      31.) Macrame Hanging Baskets

      Get creative and showcase your green thumb inexpensively. There are easy Tutorials on the internet to create adorable macrame hanging baskets. Easy indoor plants for your macrame hanging baskets are snake plants or aloe vera.

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      32.) Corkboard Organizer

      Make a personalized corkboard organizer to keep track of schedules and important notes. Not only are they great for to-dos, but they also make great collage and vision boards. This is a wonderful way to decorate your wall with unique pieces and pictures you like.


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      33.) Candles

      Stock up on candles to create a romantic setting whenever you wish to. Candlelight will help you unwind and turn your space into a cozy oasis. Add a personal touch by crafting your own candles in colors and shapes that suit your decor.

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      34.) Personal Decor Pieces

      Make sure to add personal items to your home decor. Whether it is painted art, heirlooms that hold sentimental value, or special finds from your last vacation, everything that makes your space feel more like home has a significant impact on the overall mood of your living space.

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      Turn Your First Apartment Into a Haven

      Don’t get discouraged by all the things to keep in mind when moving into your first apartment. Hopefully, the first apartment essentials in this post give you an idea of what you need.

      It’s important to note that buying all these things doesn’t have to be expensive. You can look for second-hand pieces at online markets or thrift stores, browse through different websites, and compare prices to save money.

      With a bit of creativity, you can create a comfortable space that reflects your personality without compromising your budget.