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Feb 20, 2020
College Life

Goodbye dorm life! It’s time to take your first step into adulthood and move into an off-campus apartment.

Moving Off-Campus This Semester?

As exciting as this new phase in your college experience is, it is easy to forget all of the necessary steps you need to take before moving into your new apartment. Among other things, you will need to set up your utilities, renter’s insurance, and stock up on supplies. These first apartment essentials are key to making your move-in process easier and to save you from any headaches in the future. 

Need some help making the transition from your dorm to your off-campus apartment? Here are all the first apartment essentials you need to keep in mind as you begino move into your new digs. 


Remember to Stock Up on Apartment Items


You will need to purchase a variety of items that weren’t needed when you lived in a dorm

When you lived in a dorm, most of your housing supplies were already provided for you. A mattress, desk, dresser, and even toilet paper all came with the room. Most dormitories don’t offer a kitchen, and instead require students to purchase a meal plan. Therefore, it wasn’t necessary to buy cooking supplies. But you need to purchase all of these items yourself now that you are moving out on your own. 

Here is a full checklist of all the first apartment essentials you are going to need. 



  • Bed frame
  • Boxspring
  • Mattress
  • Nightstand
  • Full-length mirror
  • Trash can
  • Laundry basket
  • Dresser
  • Trash can
  • Hangers
  • Closet organizer
  • Pillows, blankets, top sheet, comforter



  • Silverware
  • Plates, cups, and bowls
  • Pots and pans
  • Oven mitts
  • Sponges and dish soap
  • Strainer
  • Microwave (if the apartment doesn’t come with one)
  • Blender
  • Coffee maker
  • Baking pan
  • Condiments
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen knives, spatulas, spoons



  • Trash can
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hand and bath towels
  • Bath mat
  • Plunger
  • Bowl brush


Dining Room/Living Room 

  • Table and chairs
  • Futon
  • Coffee table
  • TV
  • Decorations



  • Cleaning supplies, such as a vacuum, mop, soap, and towels
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit

Some of these items, like the coffee maker or blender, are optional. This list is simply here as a guide to making sure you have everything you anticipate needing throughout the school year.


How to Buy These Items

This list can seem daunting at first, but don’t let it scare you away. If you have roommates, you can split the cost on the communal items, such as the futon or the coffee table. To save money, you can also buy used furniture from online sites such as Facebook or Craigslist if you are comfortable doing so. Many of these items, such as the bedding or the bath supplies, come in complete packages as a bedding and bath set. Purchasing them in a bundle will save you a great deal of time and money. 

Create a space worth going home to. 


Sign Up For Renter’s Insurance


Most apartment buildings will require you to obtain renter’s insurance

While it may be tempting to skip out on getting renter’s insurance, you need to have it on you to ensure all of your belongings are protected. Most apartment complexes and landlords do not have insurance that covers theft or damage to an occupant’s items. So, if your $2,000 laptop is stolen or damaged, it is up to you to take care of replacing it. Unfortunately, apartment break-ins and damage are common amongst off-campus apartments, so taking the chance of not having insurance simply is not worth it. 


Where to Buy Renter’s Insurance

Luckily, renter’s insurance is relatively cheap. Lemonade, for instance, specializes in providing inexpensive insurance for renters on a budget. If you are still on your parent’s car insurance company, you can see if you are able to bundle the policies together. Your parent’s homeowner’s insurance may even cover your off-campus apartment, but you have to double-check with the insurance company as the rules vary by insurer. 


What Your Policy Will Cover

So what does renter’s insurance cover exactly? Your policy will cover personal property, loss of use, and liability. If your personal belongings are lost or damaged from water, fire, vandalism, or theft, they will all be covered under the policy. That being said, it most likely won’t cover damage from floods, earthquakes, or mudslides. If you live near a fault line or an area affected by floods, you should look into purchasing a separate policy. The policy may only cover your items up to a certain price. $2,500 may be set for electronics, $1,500 for jewelry, and so on.

If you end up having to leave your apartment after an accident, your loss of use policy will cover temporary housing and expenses you incur while the damage is being repaired. In terms of liability, your insurance will cover bodily injury and property damage caused by negligence. So if you accidentally leave your shower running and flood your downstairs neighbor’s apartment, your renter’s insurance will cover the damage you will be required to pay for. 

Laptops are expensive, make sure you are covered if you lose or accidentally damage yours. 


Set Up Your Utilities and Internet


Your utilities and internet bills are usually paid toward someone other than your landlord

Unlike on-campus dorms and apartments, your expenses will not come in one, neat package. Depending on the landlord or apartment building, you will have to pay for the electric, gas, water, and even sewage utilities separately. Luckily, most apartment managers will give you the necessary contact information for the companies that will be providing your utilities. But it is up to you to make the call, preferably before you move into your off-campus apartment. 


What to Expect When Setting Up Your Utilities

Once you know when your move-in day is, you can contact your new utility providers. They will need your new address and move-in date. Since you are opening a new account with them, they may also ask for your phone number, email, social security number, and birth date. The company usually requests this information to run a credit check on you. If they deem your credit score unsatisfactory, they may charge you a higher deposit fee. Be prepared to pay for a one-time set-up fee in order to have the service turned on. 

Depending on the company, you may be able to pay your utilities online. You may even be able to set up a recurring payment for them. But if you can’t, you will need to find a way to remind yourself to pay them on time. Setting an alert in your phone or calendar for the bill’s due date, for instance, is an effective method for making sure you pay the bills on time. If you are living with roommates, you will want to determine who will be responsible for managing each utility. Attempting to have multiple people manage an account will be tedious, and in most cases, not possible. 


Setting Up Your Internet and Cable

Don’t forget to set up your internet and cable! Doing it is so easy. Some providers will actually set up stands around campus to allow students to sign up for it right then and there. If you are not able to do that, you can easily sign up online. To make sure the provider you are interested in actually offers service in your area, you can call them on the phone or use their online search database to see if you live in an active zone. 

Many providers offer internet and cable bundles that are cheaper than buying one or the other alone. Definitely take advantage of this deal, especially if you plan on throwing some movie nights every once in a while. 

Remember to always pay your utilities on time. 


Figure Out Parking and Transportation


Determine whether you will need to drive or take the bus to class

If you live within walking distance to campus, great! You will most likely not have to worry about bringing a car or taking a bus to class. But if you have an off-site internship or part-time job to get to, you will still need to figure out the logistics behind getting to it every day. 

If you decide to bring your car to your apartment, you will need to figure out both on-campus and apartment parking. Parking on campus can be tricky. Most universities require students to purchase parking passes. You may be able to park on the street outside of campus, but finding parking often turns out to be difficult and tedious. If your university is located in a city, you may have to pay for parking meters or parking garages anyway. 

Some apartment buildings and landlords offer a complimentary parking spot or driveway for tenants. Some require you to pay an extra fee to reserve a parking spot. Street parking may be available, but your neighborhoods may end up being quite crowded and difficult to park in. You also have to consider the extra cost of gas when deciding whether it is worth bringing a car to campus with you.

For these reasons, students shy away from bringing a car with them to school. Luckily, most universities offer free shuttle service to students. If your university is located in the city, it may offer free or discounted bus passes to students. You will just need to figure out the routes and schedules of the shuttles that stop by your apartment. 

You may need to take the bus if you live far from campus. 

Moving into a new off-campus apartment is a fun and exciting time in your life. But it can quickly become stressful and time-consuming if you don’t figure out all the small details involved in the moving process beforehand. With this guide to first apartment essentials, your transition into your new apartment will be seamless and quick. What are some items you didn’t expect to need when moving into your first off-campus apartment? Let us know in the comments! 


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