The Ultimate First Home Essentials Checklist

Stephanie Shaykin
Updated February 15, 2022
a multi-generational and diverse family enjoys a bright modern living room at home
10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Follow our complete list of the essentials you'll need in your first home

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The first home is a huge milestone in anyone's life. Whether you’re starting your first job, getting married, or moving out of the house you grew up in, getting your first apartment or buying a new home is something you should prepare for well before move-in day. There are many things to consider before deciding what to buy and what to do first.

Things to Do Before Move-In

So, you have a lease or a mortgage on your first home or first apartment in the real world. Before you cozy up on the couch, you have to plan so you can enjoy life in your new house. 

ASAP: Payments, Transfers, and Bookkeeping

  • Pay all deposits

  • Purchase home insurance or renters insurance

  • Book a freight elevator or parking space for move-in, if needed

  • Book moving truck or service 

  • Document moving expenses for tax returns or reimbursement

  • Schedule any maintenance or repairs

  • Transfer any utilities, cable, or internet

  • Update your address with the postal service and DMV

  • Secure important documents and warranties

  • Take photos of any valuable items

  • Book a cleaning service for move-in (or plan to DIY it)

  • Make plans to board any pets during the move

One Week Before Move-in to Your First Apartment or House

  • Do a final walk-through with your property manager or real estate agent and ensure any needed repairs will be complete by move-in day

  • Take measurements for furniture in each room of your new apartment or house

  • For rentals, write down any pre-existing damages you don’t want to be charged for upon move-out

  • Get to know the restaurants, parks, doctors, and gyms in your new area

  • Donate, throw away, or sell unwanted items

  • Pack and label each box by room (the earlier, the better—bonus points if you use color-coded markers)

Move-in Day at Your New Home

The big day has finally arrived. Chances are you’re excited, overly caffeinated, and if we’re being honest, a little nervous. Don’t worry; we’ve got you. Here’s what to do to make sure everything runs smoothly during your big move.

move-in day checklist, including check and change all locks, and find the circuit breaker

Home Essentials by Room

When it's time to unpack and get everything in the right place, you should have the essentials ready to go in your new house. Here's what you should have to be prepared to make your new place your own.

Kitchen

  • Trash bin and recycling bin

  • Flatware, dishes, and cups

  • Pots, pans, and baking sheets

  • Drawer and other kitchen organizers

  • Cooking utensils

  • Dish soap and dishwasher detergent

  • Paper towels and paper towel holder

  • Kitchen towels and oven mitts

  • Mixing bowls and mixers

  • Small appliances (toaster, microwave, etc.)

Bathroom

  • Shower curtain and liner

  • Shower rings or hooks

  • Shower rod

  • Towel bars

  • Air freshener and soaps

  • Trash can

  • Plunger, toilet brush, and holder

  • Hand towels and bath towels

  • Toiletries (toothbrush and holders)

Bedroom

  • Pillows

  • Pillowcases

  • Pillow protectors

  • Comforters

  • Blankets

  • Sheets 

  • Mattress

  • Mattress pad 

  • Mattress protector

Closet and Organization

  • Clothes hangers

  • Accessory organizers

  • Door hooks

  • Mirrors

  • Drawer organizers

  • Shelf organizers

  • Shoe rack

  • Vacuum seal storage bags

  • Storage bins and organizers

  • Hamper

Windows and Doors

  • Blinds and shades

  • Curtains and drapes

  • Curtain rods

  • Window hardware

  • Curtain tie backs

Cleaning Supplies

  • Gloves

  • Bleach

  • Glass cleaner

  • All-purpose cleaner

  • Disinfectant

  • Broom 

  • Dustpan

  • Duster

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Mop

  • Buckets

  • Towels

  • Laundry detergent

  • Dryer sheets

  • Dish soap

  • Sponges

woman in overalls stands on a ladder and change hanging lightbulb from ceiling
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Necessary Utilities

  • Toolbox and tools

  • Batteries and chargers

  • Candles and matches

  • Carbon monoxide detectors

  • Smoke detectors

  • Fire extinguisher

  • First aid kit

  • Space heaters

  • Fans

  • Dehumidifier/humidifier

  • Air purifier

  • Home security devices or system

  • Iron and ironing board

  • Extra light bulbs

  • Step stool

  • Surge protectors

  • Wifi router

  • Lawn and garden supplies, e.g., lawnmower, edger, shovel, hose, hose reel, etc.

Home Decor and Living

  • Beds

  • Nightstands

  • Dressers

  • Area rugs

  • Bookcases

  • Shelving

  • Coffee 

  • End tables

  • Doormats 

  • Sofa

  • Chairs

  • Dining table 

  • Lamps

  • Picture frames

Maintenance and Upkeep of Your New Home

The checklist doesn't stop after you move in—you still need to keep everything running smoothly. It's always good to know what you should do every season. Keep this list handy and refer back to it to help you keep loving your home as much as the day you moved in.

Spring Maintenance

  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Change AC filter

  • Inspect the roof for damage or leaks

  • Clean windows, doors, and screens

  • Polish furniture

  • Dust light and other fixtures

  • Inspect deck and refinish as needed

  • Power-wash windows and building siding

  • Vacuum out the lint from the dryer vent

  • Inspect chimney (if applicable)

  • Check sprinkler heads and remove insulation from pipes and hoses

  • Fertilize the lawn

  • Service the HVAC with a professional

  • Flush or drain the water heater

  • Hire professional septic tank and pump inspection

  • Clear leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts

  • Check for caulking deterioration (replace as needed)

Summer Maintenance

  • Oil garage-door opener, chain, door, and hinges

  • Clean kitchen exhaust filter

  • Remove lint from dryer vent and washer hoses (outdoor and indoor)

  • Clean refrigerator freezer coils and drip trays

  • Inspect dishwasher, kitchen, and bathroom for leaks

  • Replace any faucet washers as needed (outdoor and indoor)

  • Seal any tile grout

  • Prune trees and shrubs that bloomed in the spring

Fall Maintenance

  • Hire a professional to inspect the forced-air system

  • Aerate the lawn and rake leaves

  • Have professional inspect the fireplace (clean flues if necessary)

  • Seal cracks and gaps with caulk and replace weather stripping

  • Touch up the exterior with paint as needed

  • Inspect roofing for damage and leaks

  • Powerwash windows and siding

  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts

  • Fix cracks and gaps in driveway and walkways

  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Clean any carpets

  • Clean window and door screens 

  • Vacuum lint from dryer vent

  • Check for water heater leaks 

  • Check and fix loose or squeaky door hardware

  • Check for frayed cords and wires

  • Drain sprinkler system and hoses 

  • Store hoses

  • Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes

Winter Maintenance

  • Vacuum refrigerator from debris and clean coils and drip trays

  • Cover AC unit

  • Vacuum bathroom exhaust

  • Inspect roof, gutters, and downspouts monthly

  • Check the basement for leaks regularly

  • Clean sink, tub, shower, and dishwasher drains

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