Kitchen utensils? Check. Linens? Got ’em. Awesome flat-screen TV with surround sound? Some day!
You’re probably still working on your must-haves list for your first apartment, but there are a lot of little things you may not be thinking of in the midst of all those decor, cookware, and furniture choices.
Here are seven essentials you don’t want to be missing when the time comes.
1. Smoke detector and fire extinguisher
Safety first! A good rule of thumb is to have a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and in the living room (fire extinguisher, naturally, goes in the kitchen). Of course, if you have a studio apartment, you don’t need smoke detectors dotting the ceiling; one will do the trick.
Be sure to test your detectors each month and replace batteries when necessary. And whatever you do, don’t install a smoke detector closer than 10 feet to your oven or stove, because a mishap in the kitchen could set it off.
Power surges and storms can plunge an apartment building into darkness. At some point, you will lose power. Be prepared with an easy-to-find flashlight and some backup batteries. A lantern is the best way to brighten an entire room; when you’re trying get dressed in the dark, you’ll be thankful you had one.
3. Plunger and drain snake
With a plunger on hand (ideally, one for each bathroom and another one for the sinks), you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of calling your landlord or plumber for a backup in the bathroom.
For slow drains, try a drain snake instead of harsh, costly chemicals. It’s what the pros will use, so give it a shot before you call in the cavalry. They come in a variety of sizes and prices, and can be used over and over for the inevitable hair-clogged shower.
4. Basic tools
No need to go all out with a power saw and nail gun, but stocking up on some basic tools will prepare you to assemble a new piece of furniture or hang a mirror. A hammer, wrench, and screwdriver are essential. A level will come in handy if you plan on hanging shelves or pictures, or you can just opt for the usual eyeballing method that has worked for apartment dwellers for centuries.
5. Cleaning kit
A vacuum and broom are a step in the right direction, but you don’t want to be unprepared when you spill your glass of merlot all over yourself and your sofa. Remember, not all cleaning products were created equal, so you’ll need a variety for the different types of surfaces in your apartment — showers, toilets, glass, kitchen countertops, wood, carpet, and so on.
Make sure you have some extra sponges and rags on hand, as well as a bucket. In addition to being useful for mopping, a bucket will come in handy for soaking stains on clothes or for any leaks you may encounter.
6. First-aid kit
Think of all those things your mom just miraculously had whenever there was a bug bite, cut, fever, or sore throat. Emulate her medical stockpile when assembling your apartment’s first-aid kit. Load up on bandages, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, thermometer, cough syrup, nasal decongestant, and pain relievers. When you’re under the weather, the last thing you’ll want to do is run an errand, so stock up now.
Chances are, those flimsy plastic blinds that came with your new digs aren’t providing much privacy, and they probably aren’t too stylish either. New curtains can drastically change the look of your space, while keeping nosy neighbors out of your business. If noise is an issue where you live, some types of blackout curtains will cut down on the racket. Plus, they’ll help you save on your energy bill by blocking out hot sunlight and insulating drafty windows.