College Apartment Must Haves

When our daughters told us they would be living off campus, I was able to help them come up with some college apartment must-haves. Why? Because my senior year in college, I decided I’d rather live in an apartment than the dorm.

This is a natural progression for many college and university students, especially if their school doesn’t guarantee housing all four years. In addition, some schools have college apartments that students can rent or live in like they would a dorm.

For example, my older daughter’s senior year housing was an apartment with four other women. However, it was an apartment building that her college owned. So its residents were students as well as faculty and their families.

Nonetheless, she, like my other daughter who moved off campus her senior year, needed to figure out what to buy for a college apartment. So I figured my readers might have children in this same situation.

Your college apartment checklist

Therefore, I decided to write this article which could be your veritable college apartment checklist. I’ll go through most rooms in a typical apartment to help you figure out exactly what you need to buy before you pack up the car. Or, after they get to school.

For example, lots of retailers offer ship to store options. Here are my two favorites for college students:

  1. Bed, Bath and Beyond
  2. Target

Hopefully, you’ll find this article helpful for all of your college apartment shopping.

Kitchen Essentials for College Apartment

When your student moves into a college apartment, chances are the kitchen basics are going to be there. And when I say basics, I mean appliances.

For example, even though both of my daughters lived in entirely different apartment settings their senior year at college, their places all had a refrigerator and stove. One apartment had a dishwasher as well as a stackable washer and dryer. Therefore, you likely don’t need to think about buying those items for the kitchen.

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However, you’re going to need to bring everything else. And before we get into the shopping part, let’s talk about the cleaning part.

Clean the kitchen first

Because in every apartment I’ve ever moved my daughters into–undergraduate college or even grad school housing–the kitchens needed a thorough cleaning. So be sure to arrive with plenty of cleaning wipes, Swiffer mops, Softscrub and more. I can almost guarantee you’re going to need to give the kitchen a good cleaning.

Also, buying these cleaning items in bulk will be good to leave behind. Because besides the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the areas in an apartment (really, any home) that needs to be cleaned regularly, if not daily.

So add to your shopping list the following:

Essentials to stock the kitchen

To me no kitchen is complete without a coffee maker. Sometimes a Keurig and a supply of K cup pods are all you need. If your child is a tea drinker, then get them an electric kettle.

Obviously, the kitchen is going to need countertop appliances for cooking and making meals, including snacks. Plus, you’ll need cooking tools.

Here is a list of must haves for that apartment kitchen, based on my own childrens’ experiences:

College apartment bedroom furniture

When your student moves into their college apartment, they’re going to have three options when it comes to bedroom furniture. One, it will be provided for them, as it was with my older daughter. If you recall, she lived in a college-owned apartment building. Therefore, it was furnished with dorm-like furniture throughout, including in the bedroom.

Two, your student may have the option of buying furniture from the previous occupants. This is what happened with my younger daughter. The apartment she was moving into was previously occupied by her sorority “big.” So, they negotiated a price for the bedroom she would be taking over from her.

For under $200 she got a bed, dresser, desk and desk chair. Of course, we invested in brand new mattress covers and pillowcase covers, just in case of, you know, bed bugs.

Or, three, you have to bring your own. At one time I might have suggested shopping at IKEA for a cheap bed. However, IKEA furniture can be cumbersome to transport and build, though I do love this IKEA bed frame we got for my older daughter’s grad school apartment.

Instead, these days I would say this: the best bed for a college apartment, would be a bed frame from Amazon Basics and a mattress from a bed-in-a-box company. It’s just so much easier and, frankly, so much more affordable.

Right now, Mattress Firm has a deal going on: Students & Teachers, Get up to 50% off Sleepy’s & Tulo mattresses in a box Plus, an exclusive offer: Extra 10-20% off mattresses & more.

College apartment bedding

If your student is moving from a dorm into an apartment with a twin bed, then you can just reuse the bedding you had for dorm beds. However, if they’ve upgraded their bed to something bigger, then, of course, you’ll need new bedding.

As I said in my dorm must haves article, I stand by my recommendation that Target has the best college bedding. Even if you don’t need the Twin XL sheets anymore, Target is a great place to shop for sheets, pillowcases, comforters, blankets and more.

In fact, my husband and I are decades out of college. But when it comes time to buy bedding for our home, we always shop at Target. Their sheets really are that good.

Other bedroom furniture

If you’re buying new furniture for the whole bedroom, I would recommend checking Facebook Marketplace for cheap options. Or, if there is a local ReStore run by Habitat for Humanity.

Basically, unless you know your student is going to take this furniture with them after college, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on it. Thrifting is probably your best option for spending as little as possible.

However, if buying used creeps you out, you can find some decent options at IKEA or Target. Even Wayfair might have something that you can order online and have delivered directly to the apartment.

Nice to haves in a college apartment

Of course, your student is at school to learn. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a little fun. So here are a few nice-to-haves (versus must haves or essentials) for that college apartment.

Roku TV

Chromecast or any cast device

Firestick if you don’t have a Roku or Chromecast

Nintendo Switch

Overall safety in a college apartment

In this review of Simplisafe, I talked about how we invested in Simplisafe systems for both of our daugthers. This included when the youngest moved into her college apartment. Simplisafe was simply an easier and more affordable option than a traditional alarm system from ADT.

Luckily, you can buy Simplisafe in stores. Also, you can get it at Best Buy, Sam’s Club and Costco.

There are so many benefits to a Simplisafe system. One, you pay for it once. Two, the equipment is yours to keep. And three, you can take it with you and set it up in a new location when you move.

Have I missed any categories for a college apartment shopping list? If so, please post a comment and let me know.

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