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First Apartment

(Get Your Home Essentials)

Congrats! You finally have your own place, and just like it says above the employee breakroom sink, your mom doesn’t work here. Whatever you need, you’re going to have to get for yourself. First things first: Check for toilet paper. Then consider these potential first apartment or first home essentials for your new home.


You might be like, slow down, Anthony Bourdain, I’m no chef. But a few basic spices and cooking oils can transform a $1.99 box of spaghetti into a meal. And the burgers at your housewarming barbecue will be pretty bare without at least some ketchup and mustard.

Pro Tip: Look for companies that offer a lifetime supply of free spice refills (they do exist). That way, if you don’t use the entire jar of coriander in a couple of years, you can refresh. Also consider trying out a small amount of a spice first, that way you know you like it before you make a big investment. Spices can be weirdly expensive.


You probably already have some multipurpose tool that comes with your IKEA bookcase. But every functioning adult needs some real gear. Find yourself a toolbox with a hammer, a measuring tape, and, if you’re feeling fancy, a couple of different size screwdrivers.

An emergency kit should include some water, nonperishable food, a flashlight, extra batteries, medical supplies, duct tape, candles and matches.

Pro Tip: Keep your tool box and emergency kit in an easily accessible location. You’ll want to be able to locate these items in a hurry.

Young couple sits on couch in their first apartment, thinking about first home essentials.


We know. Boring. But housekeeping is part of adult life, unfortunately. You’ll need soaps and cleansers (dish, laundry, window and surface cleaner) as well as a mop, broom and dustpan, or vacuum. Unless you plan to use your ex’s favorite band t-shirt, you’ll want some kind of paper towels, rags, sponges, plunger and a toilet brush.

Pro Tip: Invest in soap and a hand towel for guests. They will thank you for not making them guess which bath towel is the cleanest.

Woman enjoying her coffee in her first apartment.


Nothing will make you feel more like an adult than buying stuff to put other stuff in. (Isn’t the Container Store not the most magical place you’ve ever been?) Making sure everything you own has a proper home will make you organized and ready to conquer the world.

Pro Tip: You’ll need food containers to store the other half of a chopped onion or to bring your lunch to work. Get some larger containers to take to potlucks. For some reason, once you move out on your own everyone expects you to bring food to their parties.


Most lamps don’t come with lightbulbs, and just like when you were a kid, batteries for your various household items are not included. You might need trash bags and vacuum cleaner bags, replacement filters for your water pitcher, coffee filters, electric toothbrush heads, contact lenses. Anything that gets replaced periodically.

Pro Tip: Keep a calendar of when you change things and set reminders. Also, consider stocking up on some items that you know you will need in the future. This way you can purchase items on sale, instead of spending more when you run out and have no other options.


Two words: Buy bulk.

As always, we’ve got your back. — The On Your Own Team End of article insignia

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by On Your Own, the National Endowment for Financial Education or any of its affiliate programs.]