New apartment: must-haves for day 1 and week 1
November 9, 2013 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a move from a shared apartment to my own space. In many ways I'll be starting fresh - I'll have to buy a new iron, shower curtain, etc. I'm trying to come up with a list of must-haves for day 1 and week 1- things that should be packed so that they are easily accessible, or should go on a list to be purchased the day of the move. Like toilet paper. By the time you realize you don't have it, it's too late. So far I have: toilet paper, hand soap, corkscrew, can opener, shower curtain. What else should be on this list?
posted by bunderful to Home & Garden (40 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
lightbulbs. I've moved in places where the previous tenants took every last one. paper plates and plastic utensils and cups, til you can get your dishes.
posted by lemniskate at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2013

Best answer: TOWELS. I just moved last week and forgot to pack towels in my "open first" box. Super annoying!
posted by timetoevolve at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Window coverings. You can get temporary paper ones if necessary.
posted by bq at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Coffee stuff (coffee, coffee maker, filters, sugar, stirrers, milk, etc.)
posted by bleep at 11:39 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Something to cook or boil water in. We forgot this and it sucked.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Coffee maker/fixings.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Batteries, and both a Phillips and a flathead screwdriver. A spare pen and pad of paper so you can write down what you need. Trashbags and a trash can.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Photo ID
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:40 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

maybe it's just that i'm an ultra nerd, but after 1-2 moves where i fucked this up... call and order internet service(and cable/satellite service if you do that) the instant you sign the lease. nothing is more irritating than spending the entire day moving stuff in, still having all your books/dvds/etc packed up in boxes, and not even being able to sit down at the end of the day and watch some netflix or noodle around on the internet or something.
posted by emptythought at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2013 [7 favorites]

A cup or bottles of water. Lord was I thirsty while packing and unpacking and with no cup that meant sticking my head under the faucet.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and paper towels. They are so damn useful.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: disinfectant wipes ... even if you usually use a cloth ... get a cylinder of these and you can wipe down anything and everything as needed ... even if the place appears clean, you might be surprised where the dirt and grime lies. And disposable. I went through two 72 sheet containers in the first few weeks of my new apt.
posted by batikrose at 11:42 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Trash bags.
Anything you need for sleeping -- sleeping bag, air mattress if there's no bed yet, or sheets/pillows/blankets, pajamas, toothbrush etc.
posted by linettasky at 11:45 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you cook, start making a list of every tool you use while cooking. Like, starting now, whenever you cook something, write down every tool you use. I wish I'd done this. I was the first to move into my current place, and the saga of trying to make french toast with no spatula, cereal-sized bowls, and plastic forks was not so fun. (I had a candy thermometer and a knife sharpener and a zester, but no spatula.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:49 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

- Spray cleaner and paper towels. There will always be mess from previous tenants and mess from moving.
- Broom and dustpan for same.
- Window coverings. If desperate, have some nails so you can nail up a sheet, or some scotch tape and patterned napkins - unfold the napkins and tape them over the window. looks good and gives you some privacy.
- Cash for pizza or similar.
- Kettle or coffee maker. Nothing feels more like home than making a pot of coffee in the morning.
- Things to make and eat minimal foodstuffs - a medium-sized saucepan and a wooden spoon or a spatula go a long way. A mug, a plate, a bowl, spoon fork knife.
- garbage bags.
- hammer and screwdriver and an assorted pack of nails and screws. Get one of those screwdrivers with different heads in the handle, and pay a little more for a good one; cheap heads strip and become useless very quickly.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A plunger is definitely in the "don't have until you need it" category and is always one of the first things into the new apartment.

If you're new to having your own place, definitely get a tool box. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or high-end, but you'll find all kinds of weird shit you need to assemble.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:51 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

At least one extension cord + splitter and/or power bar. Outlets are rarely where you need them.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

bath mat
posted by ansate at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2013

Music source, which will make unpacking much more pleasant!
posted by carmicha at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Some numbers of food delivery places near your new place. In those few days when you first move and unpack, cooking and preparing food is the last thing on your mind! Best to have the names/numbers of a few delivery places ahead of time.
posted by raztaj at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Band-aids, first-aid stuff. Because you never know.
posted by heyho at 12:18 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

• Duct tape
• A good box cutter + blades
• Rags for spills and messes above and beyond paper towels

I'm not a germaphobe by any stretch, but I always buy a new toilet seat when I move into a new place. (You'll need to know the exact measurements first.)
posted by Room 641-A at 12:20 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you have a bed that you're bringing with you? If not, order it now and schedule delivery for your move-in date. My first place, I didn't have a bed so the day I moved in I went down to the local mattress place thinking I could just buy a twin and cram in it my car. Nope! I slept on a nest of cushions and blankets on the floor for two weeks waiting for my bed to arrive.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you have a pet? Then food dish, water dish, litter box, crate, their favorite bed...
posted by florencetnoa at 12:23 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kleenex. Microwave oven. a few storage containers for the fridge. Laundry basket/hamper. Cash for tipping delivery people et al.
posted by DrGail at 12:43 PM on November 9, 2013

Coat hangers. Now is your opportunity to get a matched set of nice wooden ones.
You'll need something like zip lock bags to put "wet" items, like bottles of cooking oil, in while you are moving them.

I don't have a citation, but I read about someone who moved to a new house. They had time to get organised at the old place, but very little time to move and unpack at the new place. One technique that helped them a lot was to tape coloured index card to each box - red for kitchen, blue for bathroom, green for bedroom, and so on, and then they taped the same index cards in a visible spot in the corresponding rooms in the new house. On moving day, none of their moving crew had to guess which room to put the boxes in, and it was immediately obvious if a box was in the wrong room.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Pair of scissors or knife to open packages of food, tools, etc.
Ibuprofen or whatever you take for headache or muscle strain.
A few eating utensils, plate, cereal bowl.
posted by wryly at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Bath Towel! Wet, naked, tired, and air drying is no fun...

Make sure you can order pizza and play a DVD.

Work clothes for a week if you work in an office or wear a uniform. Unpacking on a Mon morning looking for clothes it's also no good.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

cleaning supplies - it's way easier to clean a place when the rest of your stuff isn't in the way, and not moving into other people's dirt makes a new apartment so much more pleasant. In fact, if you can get access to the place for a few hours before you move your stuff in so that you can give it a good scrubbing while it's empty, that would really be great.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:46 PM on November 9, 2013

Ha, glad you mentioned shower curtain. I have actually forgotten this and taken an awful splashy bath after moving because I was too damn tired to go buy a shower curtain. Also don't forget anything else you need to shower with (shampoo, towels, etc), and something comfy to wear post-shower.
posted by radioamy at 1:56 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your salt & pepper shaker/grinder. Trust. We couldn't find ours for a few days after our last move and having to eat food without salt & pepper sucks more than you realize.
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 2:18 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Before you move in, you can walk/drive around your new address and find:
- the nearest ATM ( you bank's network, if that matters)
- the nearest coffee shop and/or convenience store
- nearest grocery store
- nearest drug store
- nearest hardware store
- someone above already mentioned nearby takeout/restaurants

That way if you do discover you need something at the last minute, at least you don't have to start wandering the neighborhood or using your phone to find out where to go.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:10 PM on November 9, 2013

When I first moved to my city, it was to an empty apartment (literally empty, no furniture, fridge, microwave etc). My fiancé was turning up 3 weeks later with our furniture from the other side of the country.

All I took with me was clothes, toiletries, mobile phone, handbag, a blowup mattress and bedding and a laptop with movies and toilet paper. I ate takeaway for 3 weeks and sat on the floor. I really didn't want to purchase a set of plates or pans when our stuff would be turning up soon enough anyway so I made it work. It wasn't exactly pleasant but it was doable and a good reminder for me that we don't need most of what we think we do.

If you forget something, you'll be fine. As long as it's not toilet paper...
posted by Jubey at 4:48 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Congratulations on getting your own place, by the way!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:03 PM on November 9, 2013

Best answer: An alarm clock.

If so inclined, you're favorite stuffed animal. My new home wasn't 'home' until I dug out Andreas the Reindeer, who acts as sentinel over my dreams when I sleep.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:11 PM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Fire extinguisher and fresh batteries for the smoke detectors.
posted by ainsley at 10:40 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In addition to many of the above, my "unpack first" box contains
Phone charger.
Remote controls.
The little roller legs that I have to screw off my bed before moving and reattach before I can sleep on it again.
Torch and a couple of candles (just in case the power's not on yet)
Glasses and cups.
A multitool. If you don't have one, at the very least, a sharp knife and a couple of screwdrivers.
A single set of cutlery.
Basic toiletries (toothpaste/brush, soap, TP, etc)
posted by Diag at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2013

Best answer: Hand soap.
posted by loquat at 6:19 PM on November 10, 2013

- If you wear them: contact lenses and/or eyeglasses, and supplies for them (cleaning supplies, extra pair, etc.)
- Medications, if applicable (prescriptions, etc.)
- If this is a rental space, take pictures of the rooms, doors, walls, floors, etc. before you unpack
- Battery chargers (for phone as mentioned above, and also laptop and other devices)
- Lamp, flashlight (flashlight is also important if you need to look under the sink, or in an unlit closet, or behind heavy furniture or appliances, etc.)
- Nightlights you can plug into wall outlets, for the bathroom and where you'll be sleeping -- these might be especially helpful early on -- e.g. if you wake up when it's still dark, and you're not familiar enough with the layout of your new place to roam around on auto-pilot
- If you're going to be moving around heavy furniture or appliances: furniture sliders, hand truck
- If you're moving somewhere that's cold or cold at night: space heater, warm clothes/bedding
- If you're moving somewhere that's warm: fan
- Bug spray
- In addition to the cleaning supplies mentioned above: vinegar is cheap and is a good cleaner
- Depending on what kind of floors you have: a vacuum (even a smallish one) and/or a mop
- Disposable gloves (can be used for when you clean the space, and saved for later for more/other uses); rubber gloves if you're going to be using harsh cleaners
- Dishwashing supplies (dish drying rack, dish soap, sponge)
- Something to sit on that has a back, e.g. a folding chair (this will be very nice if you've been moving stuff all day)
- Umbrella/raincoat (if there's even a possibility of rain)
- Wi-fi router to go with your Internet service
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 9:55 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I used all of your answers to pack my "open first" boxes and though there were a few "hmm, where's the thing?" moments there was no "OMG I can't do the important thing because I don't know where the essential tool is." The ibuprofen in particular was right on the money - even though I hired movers I did a lot of lifting and mother of god i was sore. The chair was also fantastic to have. And my movers were impressed that I had soap in the bathroom.

Thank you!
posted by bunderful at 7:35 PM on December 18, 2013

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