Ultimate Packing Checklist for Your First College Apartment

Ultimate Packing Checklist for Your First College Apartment

You know your university’s team mascot, school colors and where to find the best pizza after midnight on campus. But you’re not truly prepared for college until you get your first new apartment checklist together. This list will be your Bible until you move in. It tells you everything you need to take along with you to school.

Note that every school is different. Something included in the dorms at one university may not be available at another, such as a full-sized kitchen or private bathroom. Your choices may vary based on those differences. If you have a private bathroom, for example, you probably won’t need shower shoes, but if you’re sharing a public bathroom with 11 other people, you probably do.

packing checklist for college apartment

You may also have chosen to live off-campus. In that case, your packing list for your first college apartment will include a few more additional things that those living in the dorms won’t have to worry about.

That said, let’s get started on your ultimate college checklist. At the top of the college checklist are toiletries.

Toiletries for College

Your toiletries list for college actually may not be as long as you’d expect. Here are the toiletry items you should bring to school:

  • Shower caddy
  • Shower shoes if you have a public bathroom
  • Personal toiletries, including toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, glasses, contacts, contact solution, hair dryer, shampoo, soap, conditioner, lotion and shaving supplies
  • First aid kit or Band-Aids
  • Towels
  • Medicine

School Supplies

Here are the school supplies that should be on your college packing list. Remember, you want to bring the bare essentials so you aren’t bogged down with too much to transport. You can buy tape or borrow a friend’s stapler when you get to school, and leave extraneous supplies such as white out and three-hole punches at home. Most likely, you won’t need them.

  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Notebooks — one per class
  • Binders
  • Computer mouse
  • Flash drive
  • Printer
  • Ink cartridges for printer
  • Printer paper
  • Envelopes

Other Electronics

You’ll want your full complement of electronics by your side at your new school, including:

  • Smartphone
  • Smartphone charger
  • Tablet or e-reader
  • Tablet or e-reader charger
  • Digital camera
  • Camera battery charger
  • MP3 player or iPod
  • MP3 player or iPod charger
  • Speakers for laptop and MP3/iPod
  • Headphones / Earbuds

Food and Kitchen Items

Buy most of your food when you get to school, because it’s just one more thing to take up space in the car. A few things are worth bringing from home:

  • One place setting — bowl, cup, silverware, plate
  • Coffee or tea, whatever your caffeine vice is
  • Coffee maker
  • Hot water machine
  • One multi-purpose pan
  • Microwave, if your dorm or apartment doesn’t have one
  • Microwave-safe heating dish
  • Mini-refrigerator


You should pack your clothes, including winter and summer items. Bedding, pillows and hangers are also a must. Check if your room has air conditioning. If not, you may want a fan.

Bring these other extras as well for a more comfortable experience:

  • Flashlight
  • Laundry basket
  • Hamper
  • Detergent and fabric softener
  • Quarters for laundry machines
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Coffee mug
  • Water bottle
  • Desk lamp
  • Favorite books and magazines
  • Wall posters
  • Dry erase board for your door
  • Batteries
  • Dish soap
  • Swiffer pads
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies, if you will be in charge of cleaning it

First College Apartment Checklist: Living Off-Campus

Then there’s the matter of housing. If you choose to live off-campus, which often offers more independence and better pricing than the dorms, then you will have more items to add to your checklist, in addition to all the things already covered.

Furniture for Your College Apartment

Of course, you can’t complete your checklist until you know what the size of your apartment will be:

  • Are you in a two-bedroom or a three-bedroom?
  • How big is the living room?
  • Is it already furnished?

Depending on how far away from home you are going, it may make more sense to rent furniture at school rather than transporting yours from home to campus. It can be expensive to rent a moving van, and you can probably fit most of your other supplies in a car.

Learn More About Renting Apartment Furniture

Number of People in Your College Apartment

You may have roommates living with you in your new apartment. If so, make sure you talk beforehand so everyone is clear on who’s bringing what. For instance, some off-campus apartments do not have central air conditioning. Especially if you’re going to school in a warm climate, you will want to have a wall unit to keep the temperature bearable. Discuss before you move in whether someone has a unit they can bring or if you’d all prefer to chip in money to buy one together.

If you do make purchases together, remember that at the end of the year, someone will be responsible for taking them home. Rather than fight over who gets the A/C unit or any furniture you bought together, it may make more sense to rent items, which you’ll give back at the end of the year.

New Apartment Packing List for Pets

One of the great joys of living off campus is that you can have a pet. Many college students love the idea of a furry friend who can snuggle with them while they study and help soothe them when they inevitably become homesick. You will have to make sure your lease agreement allows pets on the premise, and your roommates are agreeable to pets and do not have any allergies.

Once you have the all-clear, here are a few things you will need to bring with you to care for your pet:

  • Leash for dogs
  • Litter box for cats
  • Pet food
  • Pet bed
  • Grooming supplies
  • Medical history, if you are bringing a pet from home and not adopting a new one at school

New Apartment Packing List for Kitchens

If you’re living off-campus, you will need a lot more kitchen items than if you are on-campus. You don’t need to be capable of cooking a gourmet meal, but at the least you should have these supplies, in addition to the ones listed for on-campus dwellers:

  • One large pot & one large frying pan
  • One small pot & one small frying pan
  • 1-2 cookie sheets
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Sponges
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • Spatula
  • Rubber scraper

Having a checklist and a plan in place ensures you’re ready for your college apartment days and will be less likely to encounter any unwanted surprises. Bring it on, move-in day!

Make Packing Easy By Renting Electronics & Houseware

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