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How to Do (A)Dulting

A single woman alone in an empty apartment thinking about organizing and setting it up.

If you’ve recently graduated college, gotten your first job, or moved into your own apartment, you might be struggling with adulting.  Setting up your own space, arranging for gas, electricity, and cable, figuring out the kitchen, getting furniture – it can all be very overwhelming!


Here’s a guide to being on your own for the first time:

Get set up before you move. Contact the gas, electric, cable, Wi-Fi, and water companies in your area, set up an account, and have them turn on everything for your first day.

Change your address. Go online to the US Postal Service and arrange for mail forwarding. You can also register to vote at the same time!

Here are the bare essentials of what you need to set up house -


A colorful kitchen shelf with all the essentials of a first apartment for a young adult.

·       4 Plates

·       4 Bowls

·       4 Glasses

·       Mug

·       4 wine glasses

·       Flatware

·       Dish soap

·       Sponges

·       2-4 Dish towels

·       Large ceramic or durable plastic bowl (for popcorn, salad, pasta, chili, etc.)

·       Trash can

·       Oven mitts

·       Can opener

·       Scissors

·       Coffee maker and/or electric teapot

·       Toaster oven Trash bags

·       Dish drying rack and mat

·       Zip-lock bags, gallon, and quart size

·       Table and a couple of chairs (or stools if you have a counter)

·       Paper towels


·       Small, medium, and large frying pans

·       Medium and large pots

·       Mixing bowl

·       Wooden spoon

·       Sharp knife

·       Slotted spoon

·       Tongs

·       Food storage containers

·       Colander

·       Rimmed cookie sheet

·       9” x 13” pan

·       Muffin pan

·       Hand mixer

·       Aluminum foil

·       Saran wrap

A list of cleaning supplies needed when you set up your first apartment as an adult.

Cleaning/Home Maintenance:

·       Broom and dustpan

• Vacuum (if you have rugs)

• Swiffer mop

• All-purpose cleaner (like Fantastik)

• Microfiber cloths

• Rags

• Dawn dishwashing liquid (hand washing)

• Glass cleaner

• Laundry detergent and dryer balls or sheets

• Scrub brushes (one for bathroom, one for kitchen)

• Lightbulbs

• Power strip

• Masking and scotch tape

• Rubber gloves

• Tool set

o Hammer

o 2 sizes Phillips head screwdrivers

o 2 sizes flat head screwdrivers

o Wrench

o Picture hanging hooks (or Command strips)

First Aid/Medical:

·       Bandaids

·       Isopropyl alcohol

·       Aspirin

·       Ibuprofen (Advil) and/or Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

·       Antibiotic cream

·       Digital thermometer

·       Regular medations, vitamins

·       Saline nose spray

·       Tweezers

·       Medical tape

·       Calamine lotion

·       Pepto Bismol

·       Ice pack (keep in freezer)


·       Toilet bowl cleaner

·       Toilet bowl brush

·       Plunger

·       Shower curtain and hooks

·       Bath mat

·       Towels (2 bath and 2 hand towels)

·       Bath mat

·       Trash can

·       Hand soap

·       Toilet paper

Setting up a bedroom in your first apartment as an adult includes getting bedroom furniture, linens and lighting.


·       Bed and mattress

·       Sheets (2 sets)

·       Mattress protector

·       Pillows

·       Blanket/Duvet

·       Nightstand

·       Laundry hamper

·       Dresser

·       Hangers

Living Room:

·       Couch

·       Bookcase

·       TV/media cabinet

·       Side table

·       Lamps

·       Coffee table

Work/Office Area:

·       Desk

·       Chair

·       Surge protector

·       Cabinet with drawers

·       File cabinet

·       Bookcase

·       Printer stand

·       Lamp


·       Drop Zone – to hold keys, wallet, purse, backpacks

·       Mail bin

·       Shoe rack near front door

Oil and vinegar are just some of the kitchen staples needed when setting up the first apartment as a young adult.

Food Basics:

This is different for everyone, according to their food preferences and how often they use prepared foods. But some basics are:

·       Olive oil

·       Vinegar

·       Sugar (and or maple syrup, honey)

·       Salt

·       Pepper

·       Oregano

·       Cinnamon

·       Ketchup and mustard

·       Eggs

·       Bread

·       Milk

·       Baking powder


And yes, outfitting a first home can be pricy!  But here are a few tips to ease the burden on your budget:

Shop at thrift stores.  You can get most of your kitchen and baking needs there, plus

Garage sales and flea markets are great sources to find necessary items to furnish and supply your first apartment as an adult.

plates, bowls, glasses, etc. Check out their furniture for side tables, chairs, and dressers.

Buy Nothing. Join your local Buy Nothing group, where people post things they no longer need that you can pick up for free.

Yard Sales. It’s amazing what you can find, and at an extraordinarily little cost.

Facebook Marketplace. This is a great resource for inexpensive furniture, household appliances, and about anything you would need.

Marshalls/HomeGoods. For inexpensive new stuff, check these stores out. They carry everything from lamps to furniture to bathroom accessories and artwork.

Amazon.  Of course! But I would check out all the other sources first, and only buy online here if you still need essentials.

IKEA. The traditional first stop for cheap, relatively well-made, nicely designed furniture, housewares, bedding and kitchen supplies.


So this is what you need to get started. Of course, as you go along you'll add things like art, plants, rugs, and pictures. For now - enjoy the journey! And the excitement of beginning your adult life~

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