You’ve just signed a lease for your first home/apartment–congratulations! Taking this step into adulthood is a great feeling! Before you move in, you should prepare a checklist of items to make sure you have in your new home. If you have roommates, it might be smart to make the list with them and designate “who brings what” if you plan on sharing or contributing. If you want something to be “just yours” in the home, make sure you label it or let them know. Here are some basic things you may want to have in your home or apartment:
Furniture: If you are leasing an apartment, sometimes they may be already furnished. This means you do not have to provide your own couch, tables, chairs, bed frame, desk, etc. This can save money and hassle. However, if your home or apartment is not furnished, you might need:
- A mattress/box spring (bed frames and headboards are optional—some people don’t mind if their mattress and box spring are directly on the floor).
- A set of bed sheets/comforter, some pillows, and blankets
- A dresser (unless you are okay with just hanging clothes in the closet)
- Nightstand (optional—but it is nice to have a sort of bedside table)
- Rugs (if your floors are hardwood or tile)
- Living room furniture (couches, chairs, coffee table, etc.)
- Kitchen furniture (table and chairs)
- TV/game system (optional)
**Many of these items can be found for low prices online. Craigslist (Lincoln and Omaha) and the Facebook market are helpful when searching for affordable furniture. Looking around at yard sales or asking family and friends is helpful too.
Kitchen: Usually if you are renting a home or apartment, you will be provided with kitchen appliances. This includes a stove, refrigerator, and sometimes a microwave (you may need to bring your own microwave). You may also have a dishwasher included. You and your roommates can discuss “who brings what” when it comes to kitchen utensils and dishes.
- A set of plates, bowls, cups, and silverware (if you choose to use paper products, that works!)
- Cooking pot and pan/skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Dish soap
- Trash can/trash bags
- Zip-lock bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap
- A set of Tupperware to store leftovers
- Measuring cups
- Pizza cooker (optional)
- Paper towel
- FOOD—you can make plans with your roommates to split the cost of food when you go to the grocery store, or you can label what is yours.
- Can opener
**These items can also be found online (Craigslist or Facebook Market), or you can find them in-stores for low prices. Walmart and Super-Saver are two great places to find these items for a low price. Also check local yard sales or ask family/friends.
Bathroom: Most of these items you will not want to share with roommates since they are personal care items.
- At least 2-3 bath towels
- Bath mat
- Washcloths or loofahs
- Bars of soap or body wash
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair care products
- Hydrogen peroxide (for cuts and scrapes)
- Band-aids and Neosporin
- Razors and shaving cream
- Toilet paper
- Plunger/toilet bowl cleaner
- Cotton balls/swabs
- Cough medicine
- Pain reliever (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil, etc.)
**Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash can be shared. If you and your roommate(s) buy a large size, you can split the cost. Same goes for things like toilet paper and paper towel.
Bedroom: Your bedroom will mainly contain your personal items.
- Clothing, jewelry, and shoes
- Any kind of wall decoration (picture frames, posters, etc. **Check with landlords before drilling/nailing things into walls!)
- A laundry hamper/basket
- Phone charger
- Books, journals, etc.
- Padlock for door (even if you trust your roommates, a lock for your door is recommended. If you leave for a long weekend for any reason, it might be nice to lock up to make sure your items are safe.)
**Anything personal you want to bring with you. It is your room—you can have anything you want!
Miscellaneous: There are a few miscellaneous items that are not necessarily required, but they would be nice to have.
- Extension cords
- Adapters (to make 2-prong plug-ins into 3-prong)
- Tools (hammer, nails, pliers, measuring tape)
- Office supplies (pens, pencils, envelopes, stamps, Post-Its, notebooks, tape, stapler, tacks, etc.)
- Candles (if allowed) or scented plug-ins
- Laundry detergent, dryer sheets (your washer/dryer unit may be located in your home/apartment or it may be a community washroom in your apartment. Check with landlord if not included in lease)
- Lamp/lighting fixtures
- Storage bins
- Iron/ironing board
Most stores like Walmart and Target will have “back to school” sales starting in the late summer. They will have “dorm essentials” that will be in a designated area. You can find items like these above during that sale.
Things to be Aware of:
- Read your lease! Make sure you know which utilities are included in rent and which ones you will be required to pay for on your own. If you are unsure, ask your landlord.
- If you have a vehicle, make sure you ask about parking. Parking may have an additional cost each month.
- Pets—check the lease or ask your landlord before bringing a pet into the home. Some housing places either do not allow pets/certain pets or require a pet deposit in case the pet causes damage.
- Utilities—depends on house or apartment. Sometimes utilities are included in the rent cost, and sometimes you are required to pay them separately.
- Trash/sewage–some places require you to pay for trash services. This is typically inexpensive, but make sure you know if it is included or separate.
- Noise complaints—be aware that you are not the only person in a housing unit or neighborhood. Loud disturbances or “parties” can attract the attention of your landlords and sometimes the police. Be smart: you do not want to get a police–visit fine from your landlord.
- **Some leases say specifically “no parties”. This is serious—landlords COULD evict you if you are having parties, especially when underage drinking is involved. You can also get in legal trouble as well as trouble with your landlord.
- Always make sure your home is LOCKED before you leave. This means doors and windows. This is important; you do not want unwelcomed visitors coming into your home.
Links to Other Checklists:
Check out the Legal Aid of Nebraska Landlord Tenant Handbook here for more information!
**Note: If you are under 24 and have had a touch with the Juvenile Justice System on the law violation side you may be able to have an attorney look over your lease or answer questions about housing. If you would like to see if you qualify under the Juvenile Reentry Project, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (402) 416-9500
This project was supported by Grant No. 2017-CZ-BX-0021 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.