3 Essential Buys For Your First Apartment That Are Often Overlooked

You won't want to forget these items when planning for your first spot!

Moving into your first apartment can be extremely overwhelming. It’s confusing figuring out what items are needed immediately and what things can wait. If you scour the internet, you will find a plethora of checklists containing almost all of the items one might need in their apartment. Some items are obvious, such as a bed, couch, or TV. Others are more niche, like a mirror or clothes hangers. 

However, after living in my first apartment for about 10 months now, I’ve found that I am in desperate need of a few items that were not included in the checklists. To be fair, there are so many factors that go into maintaining your own living space. We can’t rely on the internet to prepare us for everything.

The items below are must-haves in my opinion — items that are often glossed over.

1. Fire Extinguisher

Things you'll need for your first apartment
Image Source: Unsplash

I had to learn this the hard way. One second I thought I was broiling garlic chicken, and the next second my oven was in flames. Considering I had an oil-based fire on my hands, dumping water on it wasn't an option. I was lucky enough that the fire eventually went out on its own, but the whole time I was thinking, "Why don't I have a fire extinguisher in here?" 

If you aren't on the clumsier side, then this might seem like an unnecessary buy. It's understandable that this household safety staple is overlooked during apartment shopping — fire extinguishers are pretty bulky and their bright red frames can look out of place in a small apartment. However, accidents happen, and you'd rather be over-prepared than underprepared. It only takes one rogue candle or one overheated power socket to set things a-blazing.

If the traditional extinguisher is too much of an eyesore, you can buy smaller versions for a reasonable price. They even sell fire retardant in a small can! It might not be the most exciting thing to throw in your shopping cart, but there’s really no excuse for not having one handy.

2. Step Stool

Things to buy for your first apartment
Image Source: Forever Redwood

Tall tenants might think this one doesn't apply to them but think again. The average height of an apartment ceiling is 8 feet. There are multiple reasons why one might need to reach that height: hanging up LED lights, changing smoke alarm batteries, hanging art, the list goes on.

While you might have the arm span to reach the highest points of your first apartment, it can be uncomfortable to hold your arms above your head for long periods of time. Not to mention, being at eye level with the surface results in more accurate measurements. That means anything you might hang up will be more likely to be straight. 

Not only is this item of use indoors, but it can also be utilized outside of the apartment. You might need to hang plants or knock down a wasps nest. Reaching above the head for long periods of time becomes increasingly uncomfortable if the weather is bad, and you need to be able to see what you are doing in low lighting. You never know when you will need that extra boost, so having a step stool somewhere in your apartment is essential. 

3. Portable Washer & Dryer

Items to buy for your first apartment
Image Source: Business Insider

If you have a washer/dryer in-unit, then you are one of the lucky ones. For those who are apartment-hunting on a strict budget, the more affordable apartments are usually lacking this vital appliance. Sure, the complex might have a laundry room, but these are often under-equipped. My current complex has one washer and one dryer, which turns laundry days into rather vicious standoffs with my neighbors. 

An alternative option would be using the neighborhood laundromat, but it would be nice to avoid an extra trip. Also, due to the times we live in, going to a public place such as the laundromat might serve as a health concern for many. The cleanliness of these facilities is questionable, and they are often packed.

Sure, a portable washer & dryer might be pricey, but it will save you time (and maybe even money) in the long run. Plus, you get the bonus of being able to wash whenever you want — at 6 a.m. or midnight. You also don't have to worry about an impatient laundry room user dumping your wet clothes onto the folding table because you didn't take them out soon enough.

If your first apartment has washer/dryer hookups, I would recommend buying full-sized units if you intend to stay there long term. If not, the portable alternatives are available in different sizes and prices to fit your needs. It can also be a life-saver if the laundry room is out of order.

Most first apartment checklists are composed of items needed for everyday situations. There is usually an "emergencies' section with things such as a flashlight, batteries, and candles. However, the three items above were excluded from every list I came across.

The fire hydrant, step stool, and portable washer + dryer are the first apartment essentials for many different reasons. You never know when something unexpected might happen and you will need one of these nearby!

Writer, blogger, and content creator from Sunny San Diego. When she isn’t writing, you can find her exploring, eating, and watching Netflix.

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