Your First Apartment: What You Need to Get Started (and How to Save Money)

Your first apartment is an exciting venture into the outside world. You can keep your own hours, leave plates all over the living room and never bother to make your bed. Your first apartment also presents a few needs that you didn’t have when living with your parents or in a dorm, so here are the things you need to get started in your very first apartment.

Furniture
Your first apartment won’t be complete without at least the bare essentials for furniture. You need a bed to sleep in, a couch to sit on, a desk at which to work or do homework and perhaps even a dining room table. But you don’t have to go to the furniture store and spend thousands of dollars to set up your first apartment.

Many first-time renters bring their beds from home or purchase inexpensive futons rather than full-fledged mattresses and box springs. Some also save money by purchasing only the mattress and waiting until they’ve saved some money before buying a frame. As far as your dining room table, consider a card table until you’ve got some cash flow. Cruising garage sales, flea markets and even your relatives’ storage sheds for used furniture will make getting your first apartment much less expensive.

Utilities
Many first-time renters don’t realize that utilities must be set up by the tenant, even in an apartment home. Your first apartment must have electricity, water, a telephone and anything else you might want, such as cable or high-speed Internet. Talk with your landlord and find out how to contact the necessary utility companies, or try looking it up online. Make sure, as well, that trash pick-up is taken care of.

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You might be able to save money in your first apartment by choosing a newer building with energy-efficient windows and heating and cooling systems. In addition, make sure that you shop around for the best price in utilities. For example, I saved about thirty dollars a month in my first apartment by subscribing to a smaller electricity company.

Cookware
Eating out every night is not a good way to save money in your new apartment, so make sure you invest in proper cookware. You might talk to friends and relatives to see if they have Tupperware, pots, pans, baking sheets and flatware that they aren’t using anymore. Beyond that, you’ll need to make a trip to Wal-Mart or Target. You can usually find great deals on skillets, pots, silverware and dishes.

Cleaning Supplies
This is something that many people overlook when moving into their first apartment, but you’re going to want to be able to clean. A vacuum cleaner, a mop, a broom and dustpan and several rags or sponges are essential. You’ll also want to purchase bottles of oven cleaner, carpet cleaner, glass cleaner and anything else you might use.

The Essentials
In addition to everything else I’ve mentioned, don’t forget that you’ll need the essentials of living. Make sure you’ve stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, laundry detergent, dish soap and anything else you’ll use on a regular basis. Trash bags are another biggie. You can save money on these essentials for your first apartment by shopping at the dollar store or at a bulk-savings store like Sam’s Club. Apartment living means going where the lowest prices are expected to be found.

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Decorating
And finally, your first apartment should be uniquely yours, so don’t be afraid to splurge on a few decorative items. You’ll be surprised by how much more at-home you feel with a couple of rugs or a poster or even a couple potted plants. You can add to your decorative collection after you’ve figured how much your living expenses will be.