What to buy before you move (and what to avoid buying until afterward)

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My fiancee and I would like to move in together, but the actual date of the move in has been pushed back. A lot. Both of us currently live with our ‘rents and have never lived outside the ‘rents home before, so we don’t have any apartment stuff. I was thinking of purchasing some things for the apartment and keeping them stored in my current abode.

My mother’s advice was this: don’t buy too much stuff, because it might not fit in to your apartment – aesthetic-wise or space-wise. So my question to Homies is this: what do you wish you had as soon as you moved in, and what could you have done without or what would you liked to have purchased AFTER you moved? – Aurora

Here are some answers from our awesome readers:

Wait on bathroom items (shower caddy, storage solutions etc.) We got a new shower caddy and a shaving mirror that use suction cups, well, our new tub/shower, have textured walls, so our caddy/mirror had to be returned.

I’d also wait on a lot of decorative things too. The real estate listing had some of the window measurements. So I went ahead and got curtains, pre move. I didn’t notice/pay attention to how our windows open, so I had to rethink the curtains completely. Big headache.

We knew we would have a yard to deal with, so we ordered a lawn mower and organized the shipping so it would arrive on the first day we would officially be moving in. I did this with a lot of stuff we’d need, like some furniture and dishes. Some of the stuff I even had shipped a few days before the move in date so they would be done and out of the way before everyone came schlepping in with boxes. – Tiffany

I’d go with practical stuff.

Toilet paper! My experience is there’s no toilet paper left so you want that.
Paper towels
Basic cleaning supplies – all purpose cleaner, Magic Eraser, dish soap
kitchen towels.
If you don’t already have towels and wash cloths you are taking then take those. Also cheap shower curtain rings and a shower curtain liner. I’ve also moved into a place that had those when I looked at it empty but not when I moved in. Which meant a run to the store after a day of moving.

If you don’t have kitchen stuff – then you may want to get some basics.

Toolkit. Even living in an apartment you’ll want screwdrivers, hammer, pliers, measuring tape, a small level.

Foldable stepladder – so if you have to hang something high or change a light bulb you’re set

If you have dishes and wrap them in newspaper you’ll want to wash them so dishwashing liquid or dishwasher detergent (if you have a dishwasher).

Is coffee a must have? Do you have a coffee maker? If you don’t I’d get a coffee maker and some coffee. Again so you don’t have to run out the first day to get your fix.

Vacuum cleaner. Dirt Devil makes a compact apartment sized one. Again, this is something I didn’t think of until I needed to vacuum something up.

The little carpet protectors to put under your furniture, if you have rugs I’d do it as soon as you move in. One it makes them easier to move, but it also reduces the risk of holes in the carpet. – Ali

My now husband and I bought random small things we knew we’d need when they were on sale in the year prior to us moving in together (measuring cups, spatulas, glasses, dishes, pots and pans, whisks, can opener) when they were in the clearance sections at Target.

For the big stuff – I had most of it from living on my own, but we did buy a new couch and if you know any sort of rough estimated date most big box furniture stores will work with you on holding the product until you’re ready. (we bought the couch in August, when it was on a killer sale and didn’t have it delivered until Nov.)

Basically, while you’re living with your ‘rents take note of all the things you use daily (towels, dishes, silverware, etc) and see if it’s something that is dependent on your house, if it isn’t try & buy it while it’s on sale now so you aren’t shelling out as much later. Also, if you can start going through your closets and stored items now so you don’t have as much to go through when you do get ready for the big move.

Also, make sure you both agree on chores/rules before moving in together. Talk, talk, talk! My husband doesn’t pick up his socks, I knew this before living with him, so we establish he has to either put his socks in the baskets or they don’t get washed. I’m allergic to grass, so in the summers when there’s yard work – he does that and I do the big inside stuff (clean ceiling fans, scrub the tub, baseboards, etc) and we both split the every day stuff – either one of us washes the dishes and the other one cooks. If he puts the laundry into wash, I move it to the dryer, or put the clothes away when done.

And if you plan on saving money by not eating out a lot and using meal planning, look into a meal planning service (I use emeals & save all their menus in a binder) and start researching some recipes and using your parents kitchens as test kitchens, since they’ll most likely have the supplies you already need. My husband and I thought we knew how to cook a lot of foods, but we were sorely wrong! So at least hit a local bookstore or Pinterest and start putting together a recipe book. – Storm

Everyone else has the furniture and such covered, so I thought of food first. If it’s a completely empty bare-bones apartment, some of the food items for cooking would need to be bought, like salt, pepper, olive oil, etc. The super basics. Often in the haze of moving and getting stuff to and from it’s time for dinner and you’re like “oops.” and then it’s takeout for like 4 weeks. – Melissa

A coffee table! We lived without furniture for 2 weeks while waiting for movers to get our stuff out of storage and move it across the country, and man was I thankful my mom made me stuff a coffee table in my trunk. We camped out on the floor, but having something to eat on was invaluable.

Next most important – a lamp! Any kind will do, but many apartments I have lived in either have no light fixtures at all beyond the kitchen/bathroom or very limited overhead lighting (none in the living room, etc). Our last apartment we had to go out and buy a lamp the first night because otherwise we would have been in complete darkness.

Make sure to have a set of necessary kitchen supplies – pots, pans, strainer, vegtable peeler, knives, utensils, plates, kitchen towels, oven mitt, basic spices

Also pretty basic and some of the first things I always end up buying are trash cans, trash bags, laundry degergent, saran wrap, tinfoil, dish soap, sponges

Wait to buy anything decorative or that isn’t absolutely necessary or something you want. I KNEW I was going to need bookshelves because I have a ton of books, but I waited until we lived here a few weeks to be sure how we were going to arrange furniture first. – Oread

Comments on What to buy before you move (and what to avoid buying until afterward)

  1. I’m thinking back to when my guy and I first moved in together. We slept on his twin mattress on the floor, sat on the floor to watch TV while using a plastic storage bin as a table.

    I will definitely say that while I don’t recommend getting a mattress (if you don’t have a big enough one already) to store until you move, it would have been awesome for us to have bought one just before we moved so it would arrive soon after. That twin mattress got a little crowded.

    • An air mattress can make a good stopgap bed between moving in and buying a mattress. And once you have a mattress, it is handy to have as a guest bed or for taking camping or taking when you visit people who have floor space but not a guest bed.

      If an air mattress doesn’t work for you, you can pick out a mattress ahead of time and then buy it after you have a place lined up and have it delivered on moving day, or even as soon as you have keys to your new place. You can either do the same thing with a bed frame or sleep on the mattress on the floor for a while until you find a bed frame you like (or until you have money to spare for one).

      • And on that note, be suuuper careful sleeping on an air mattress for too long if you or your partner have any chance of developing a sensitive back. Neither of us had problems beforehand and we’re both pretty young, but my fiancé developed a terrible case of sciatica from sleeping on an air mattress for 4 nights. They are quite handy but man, they will do a number on you.

  2. Wait on bathroom items (shower caddy, storage solutions etc.) We got a new shower caddy and a shaving mirror that use suction cups, well, our new tub/shower, have textured walls, so our caddy/mirror had to be returned.

    I’d also wait on a lot of decorative things too. The real estate listing had some of the window measurements. So I went ahead and got curtains, pre move. I didn’t notice/pay attention to how our windows open, so I had to rethink the curtains completely. Big headache.

    We knew we would have a yard to deal with, so we ordered a lawn mower and organized the shipping so it would arrive on the first day we would officially be moving in. I did this with a lot of stuff we’d need, like some furniture and dishes. Some of the stuff I even had shipped a few days before the move in date so they would be done and out of the way before everyone came schlepping in with boxes.

  3. my advice would be to go bare bones up. so, bare bones to me is: a bed, a couch, a couple pots/pans, silverware/plates, a shower curtain, and then obviously personal shower stuff, clothes, ect.

    when my boyfriend and i moved in together after college, we had all this but the couch. the bed came from my old bedroom, we had pots/pans/silverware/plates from being in college, and then we went out and bought a couch and a table/chairs the same day we moved in (not as terrible as it sounds).

    you can survive nicely with bare bones stuff as you figure out what will work well for you two and your new space. just pretend you are living in a hotel for a little while.. you will figure out pretty quickly what you need. we ended up spending about 500 dollars our first week in our apartment getting stuff we needed, but we didnt buy anything we didnt need, if that makes sense.

  4. I’d go with practical stuff.

    Toilet paper! My experience is there’s no toilet paper left so you want that.
    Paper towels
    Basic cleaning supplies – all purpose cleaner, Magic Eraser, dish soap
    kitchen towels.
    If you don’t already have towels and wash cloths you are taking then take those. Also cheap shower curtain rings and a shower curtain liner. I’ve also moved into a place that had those when I looked at it empty but not when I moved in. Which meant a run to the store after a day of moving.

    If you don’t have kitchen stuff – then you may want to get some basics.

    Toolkit. Even living in an apartment you’ll want screwdrivers, hammer, pliers, measuring tape, a small level.

    Foldable stepladder – so if you have to hang something high or change a light bulb you’re set

    If you have dishes and wrap them in newspaper you’ll want to wash them so dishwashing liquid or dishwasher detergent (if you have a dishwasher).

    Is coffee a must have? Do you have a coffee maker? If you don’t I’d get a coffee maker and some coffee. Again so you don’t have to run out the first day to get your fix.

    Vacuum cleaner. Dirt Devil makes a compact apartment sized one. Again, this is something I didn’t think of until I needed to vacuum something up.

    The little carpet protectors to put under your furniture, if you have rugs I’d do it as soon as you move in. One it makes them easier to move, but it also reduces the risk of holes in the carpet.

    • Trash cans have also ALWAYS been a necessity for me – on both ends of the move. One where I’m moving FROM, and one where I’m moving TO.

      Between boxes and trash and things I didn’t actually need to break my back moving – it’s a must have.

      • I’ve made do with trash bags without cans on both ends of moves and it worked fine for me. Having somewhere to put trash is important, though.

    • This, especially the toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and basic shower liner. I’d add a toilet plunger.

      I’d strongly suggest waiting on anything decorative or large until you move. Stuff that looks great in the store may not work once you get all your books in the new space and find out you’ve got no wall space for posters, or that the natural lighting is completely different than you expected, or that one particular shade of green clashes unbearably with the ceiling or whatever. It’s really a bummer and depressing to wait on getting all the cool stuff you want for your new home, but hold out. Start a pinterest board.

      • Toilet plunger x100. When my now husband and I moved into our first apartment he clogged the toilet (sorry TMI) the first morning and had to run to the store. Well we lived in an apartment complex with identical buildings side by side and he forgot his key and went to the wrong building. He said the old lady that opened the door in the other building looked terrified.

        In short: Don’t scare your neighbors. Bring a toilet plunger 🙂

    • I so agree to this. Bare bones for the win. My husband and I have been living together for four years now, and we moved a year into it. We’re now preparing to move again, and we’re getting rid of almost everything, including couch, coffee table, and another random and unnecessary piece of furniture. We’ve been living the student life in a tiny apartment full of make-shift furniture for the past four years, and now we’re ready for grown-up stuff! In short, don’t be afraid to get cheap stuff that will work for the time being. You can always upgrade later.

    • Seconded, re: coffee. The last time I moved, I couldn’t make coffee the day the movers came, because my coffee maker was packed. I was wrecked and super irritable until we stopped somewhere to get me a cup of coffee. It wasn’t a big deal, but if you’re used to having coffee at home and *must* have it, make sure you move in with a coffee maker. 🙂

    • We always packed out dishes in our towels. (Sort of fold the towels in a zig zag and plates go in between layers of the same towel. ) Saves a fair amount of space that way and the dishes stay clean.

  5. My now husband and I bought random small things we knew we’d need when they were on sale in the year prior to us moving in together (measuring cups, spatulas, glasses, dishes, pots and pans, whisks, can opener) when they were in the clearance sections at Target.

    For the big stuff – I had most of it from living on my own, but we did buy a new couch and if you know any sort of rough estimated date most big box furniture stores will work with you on holding the product until you’re ready. (we bought the couch in August, when it was on a killer sale and didn’t have it delivered until Nov.)

    Basically, while you’re living with your ‘rents take note of all the things you use daily (towels, dishes, silverware, etc) and see if it’s something that is dependent on your house, if it isn’t try & buy it while it’s on sale now so you aren’t shelling out as much later. Also, if you can start going through your closets and stored items now so you don’t have as much to go through when you do get ready for the big move.

    Also, make sure you both agree on chores/rules before moving in together. Talk, talk, talk! My husband doesn’t pick up his socks, I knew this before living with him, so we establish he has to either put his socks in the baskets or they don’t get washed. I’m allergic to grass, so in the summers when there’s yard work – he does that and I do the big inside stuff (clean ceiling fans, scrub the tub, baseboards, etc) and we both split the every day stuff – either one of us washes the dishes and the other one cooks. If he puts the laundry into wash, I move it to the dryer, or put the clothes away when done.

    And if you plan on saving money by not eating out a lot and using meal planning, look into a meal planning service (I use emeals & save all their menus in a binder) and start researching some recipes and using your parents kitchens as test kitchens, since they’ll most likely have the supplies you already need. My husband and I thought we knew how to cook a lot of foods, but we were sorely wrong! So at least hit a local bookstore or Pinterest and start putting together a recipe book.

    Sorry for the novel!

    • Yes to the test cooking! That’s brilliant. My mom made me a cookbook before I moved out and I absolutely love it. If you love the way one of your parents cooks, ask them to help you test new recipes or compile some old favorites. You’ll be glad you did so when you have to spend your first Christmas away from them and really want that casserole they always make.

  6. Definitely get basic type furniture essentials, like a kitchen table and a couple of chairs, so you have something to sit on when you move in and while you are getting settled. My roommates and I were lucky enough that our parents had random bits of extra furniture they were getting rid of anyway (an old couch here, a table there) that we were pretty set on basic things when we moved in to our current house. Plus, we got that mixed and matched look that is in right now for nothing! Haha.

    • Second hand furniture from friends and family is great. We have chairs from my housemate’s sister, a couch and armchair from his mother and a dresser from some friends.

      Also, remember that slipcovers are a good for making an ugly or beat up couch more attractive.

      • This reminds me of our couch redistribution saga.

        We used to have a old but sturdy couch with a fold out bed that my housemate got second hand form some family member or another. A year or so later, his mother was getting rid of a couch that we liked better, so we took that couch. My husband’s parents took our old couch (Still in perfectly good shape) to replace the old, beat up, ugly, uncomfortable couch they had in their living room. They put THEIR old couch out on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign, were it disappeared within a day, presumable snapped up by collage students.
        Everybody wins!

  7. Everyone else has the furniture and such covered, so I thought of food first. If it’s a completely empty bare-bones apartment, some of the food items for cooking would need to be bought, like salt, pepper, olive oil, etc. The super basics. Often in the haze of moving and getting stuff to and from it’s time for dinner and you’re like “oops.” and then it’s takeout for like 4 weeks.

    • Mark Bittman has a great book How to Cook Everything but he also has one for small kitchens. tHat’s a great resource for 1) How to cook and 2) what to stock your pantry with.

      You’ll also want things like sandwich bags, tin foil, cookie sheet (for more than just cookies).

      If you don’t have a microwave and eat a lot of microwave meals then a microwave is good thing to have as a priorty.

      • I second the microwave, and a can opener. Ed and I moved across country with everything we could fit into our car. The apartment we rented was furnished (but we had no idea what that meant, moving in sight unseen). After driving all day (after 3 days of driving all day) and then signing paperwork we stepped into our new apartment. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and the thought of getting back in the car was too much. My mother had randomly given us a can of chili before we left and when we pulled it out we realized…we had no microwave. Ed pointed out there was a stove…then we realized we forgot a can opener.

        …I may have fallen to the floor and sobbed like a three-year old.

        MORAL: eat well on moving day and also be sure to bring a can opener.

      • It can be useful to pick a few of your favorite go-to easy to prepare meals and making sure that you have all the ingredients and equipment necessary to prepare and eat THOSE as soon as you move. That will keep you fed while you figure out what else you need.

        In particular, I recommend making sure you have things for making breakfasts (including coffee or tea if you need your caffeine in the morning). You can go out for lunch or dinner in a pinch, but I, at least, don’t want to have to go looking for food or to improvise food preparation first thing in the morning when I’m still 2/3 asleep. Though this may be less of an issue if you are a morning person:p

  8. I would avoid buying anything big until after you move– you’ll just have to store it and move it. I would say focus on the stuff you will need immediately to live there. (This is also true if you are just moving in general– make sure this stuff is easily accessible when you pack.) Think through what you will need in the first say 48-96 hours. For us, that was stuff like toilet paper and hand soap– I made my husband stop on the way home from closing on our house and buy at least that much. Something to eat off of and drink from; you can just get paper plates and cups in the beginning if that is easier. We had friends helping us move so we wanted to be able to feed them lunch without looking for plates, silverware, etc. Something to sleep on (mattress or air mattress, etc) and sheets/pillows for it. Stuff to shower with (shower curtain/rings/bar if needed, towels, shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc) and toothbrushes/paste. Something to cover windows with if your apartment/house doesn’t supply something (we used pieces of cardboard for the first few days, it doesn’t have to be fancy!) so that you have some privacy to change clothes. Chargers for any electronic devices, phones, etc. Coffeemaker, if you drink coffee, and the coffee, filters, etc. Something to sit on besides your bed (for the first few days in my first apartment this was a lawn chair, lol). Probably a television and some kind of input (game console, DVD player) that doesn’t rely on network connectivity, since you may not have internet right away. And/or a computer, depending on your needs/preferences. My husband and I both have smart phones and tablets so we did not need the computer immediately.

    You can certainly buy stuff in advance, but you probably won’t know what you need until you move in. Unless you see a great sale or something like that, I would say you might as well wait for most stuff.

  9. A coffee table! We lived without furniture for 2 weeks while waiting for movers to get our stuff out of storage and move it across the country, and man was I thankful my mom made me stuff a coffee table in my trunk. We camped out on the floor, but having something to eat on was invaluable.

    Next most important – a lamp! Any kind will do, but many apartments I have lived in either have no light fixtures at all beyond the kitchen/bathroom or very limited overhead lighting (none in the living room, etc). Our last apartment we had to go out and buy a lamp the first night because otherwise we would have been in complete darkness.

    Make sure to have a set of necessary kitchen supplies – pots, pans, strainer, vegtable peeler, knives, utensils, plates, kitchen towels, oven mitt, basic spices

    Also pretty basic and some of the first things I always end up buying are trash cans, trash bags, laundry degergent, saran wrap, tinfoil, dish soap, sponges

    Wait to buy anything decorative or that isn’t absolutely necessary or something you want. I KNEW I was going to need bookshelves because I have a ton of books, but I waited until we lived here a few weeks to be sure how we were going to arrange furniture first.

  10. This might sound weird, but I wish I had waited to buy kitchen gear. I didn’t really think about how big a kitchen might be (or that roommates would prefer we use THEIR stuff) so I was always storing it under my bed for later. Looking back, it was easiest to rely on my mug, plate, and two saucepans until we settled into our current place. We’re still renting, but since we’re staying for a few years the apartment’s size dictated what we would ultimately keep.

    I also wish we hadn’t of accepted so many furniture hand-me-downs so early on. A few pieces dominated our mindset as to what else we “needed” to round things out. A coffee table and end table were so large, yet free, that we had to justify a smaller couch and less butt space to accommodate them. Even now we can’t bring ourselves to let them go because of the “what if…”. So buy furniture that’s sturdy, good quality, and a little bit at a time instead of panicking about what you ‘should’ have. That extends to every bit of furniture as far as I’m concerned!

    Things to have pre-move: lockbox, lamp, things to keep your butt comfy (toilet paper, soap, undies, a mattress/chair/sofa), and a drinking glass were my must haves for a move. They’re so basic that it’s easy to forget one of them. Simply set them up in one room before you move anything else. You’ll probably pass out once everything’s in the apartment and rentals are returned.

  11. It doesn’t sound like you should be buying much of anything right now. Until you have a place picked out, you have no clue what kind of room you have. You could stock up on kitchen stuff now and end up picking a place with a “one butt kitchen” that can only hold a coffee maker and a spoon.

    If I was moving from my parents house in with my boyfriend and it was our first time out on our own, I would want to do all of that shopping with him. Like, “Oh my god, look at us being all grown up and on our own and shopping for shit for our very own place!” I even wouldn’t want to miss out on the arguments over which shower curtain we should get. (I swear, that Little Mermaid shower curtain IS essential to home happiness!)

    It sounds like you would be better served by saving lots of money for the impending move (it WILL cost more than you think) and planning. Talk to your boyfriend about what you both want, what house rules/policies you think you should/shouldn’t have, what items you want in the house, etc. Make lots of lists. Write down everything you think you will want/need in your house. You have a lot of great suggestions here. When you think about buying something for your new place, set the money aside and put it on your list. Then when you’re closer to moving, you’ll be more likely to remember to pick up a plunger before you move in.

    Other factors: Do either of you have pets? Will you have a roommate? Will you EVER have a roommate (it’s easy to say no, but it’s also a conversation that may come up later)? Are you getting an apartment, house, or trailer? Will you answer to a landlord, a HOA, or yourselves? Where do you live and what time of year will you move? You may need extra blankets or tons of bottles of water. Is anyone helping you move? What do you need to make guests semi-comfortable right away? No one expects luxury during a move, but it’s polite to have things like toilet paper and cold drinks. That may mean buying a cooler before you move. Are you already going to have major appliances in your new home?

    Okay, that’s long enough. The short version: Plan first. Commit to purchases later. Buy stuff with your boyfriend because you want it to be an OUR house, not a MY house. Overbudget.

  12. Since you have the luxary of both living with your parents still I would wait on most things. Have a garbage can, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, vaccuum cleaner and/or dust buster, and a few lamps like someone else mentioned. Just put money aside until the move happens and if you want to save instead of grabbing pizza or take out whenever you are there have a pot or borrow a pot from someone’s rents and have pasta and sauce on hand as neither need refrigeration until opened/cooked and pasta is easy to make.

    You could also get away with buying your dishes and cutlery but I wouldn’t overdo it so you can figure out exactly how much room you will have for pots and pans as in should you just stick to basic sizes or can you get a wok and crazy varying sized sets.

    I know you are both probably super excited to get out on your own but you can slowly clean up the place over 2 weeks before being fully moved in and time to wait on furniture to be delivered before needing to actually be there fulltime. Start with cleaning out the place then bring over most of your clothes that will go in your cloests and figure out how you might set up your living room so you can figure appropriate couch sizes. You can order a mattress to have it delivered a few days after you move (ofcourse pending you aren’t moving 3 hours away). Then you can go figure out a nice bedroom set you will need knowing how much more clothing might or might not fit in the closet and how big of dressers you need.

    Remember furniture that seems a little small for a room is better than furniture too big for a room. It would be easier to get a little squished on a couch than have to scale over a sectional that doesn’t really leave walk way. It’s nicer when you can have your furniture actually match each other than hodged podged together unless you like figuring out what might work with what. I still have the spray painted dresser I used in college that is purple and sea green and my husband has a wooden dresser. Our bedroom looks so very off kiltered because of it. We will probably get an actual matching bedroom set whenever we wind up selling our house and moving which is still a number of years off but will just be easier to have it delivered than deal with moving crap.

    Just keep calm and resist the urge to BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!! as its a lot easier to wait a little longer and have other people deliver it all than to deal with wrangling others into helping you move.

  13. I’m with momma on this one… you really don’t want to buy too much stuff too far ahead of time – you risk having wasted your money, if you’re less than optimally organized like me you risk losing the stuff you bought before you ever move, and you risk buying stuff that you may never ever use. Of course there are usually things that are important to you personally, but I can’t know what they are. For me, I have a large 11 piece set of really really nice annodized aluminum pans… they are my babies… I love to cook… we created storage for them in our one butt kitchen very shortly post move. Because somethings just have to be had.

    some things to consider – something to sleep on immediately! an air mattress for a few days or bringing one along from your parental home? how will you eat? microwave? some houses/apartments come with one already there so this might be something you buy like a week before the move if you need it. most of the pre-move things I’d suggest are things that really can and should be obtained within a week or two prior to moving, like temporary paper plates to avoid having to do dishes while unpacking, paper towels, toilet paper, plastic utensils, a broom, a bucket, some rags and cleaner.

  14. First and foremost, if it’s something you know for a fact you will need, it won’t be a pain to move and you’re getting an AMAZING deal on it, go ahead and buy it. When you get in the thick of moving, clipping coupons and shopping carefully for the best prices usually takes the backseat. It’s a good idea to look for great prices on household cleaners, paper towels, brooms and other such items now so you don’t end up making frantic bad buys later. These items can be used in your current home, as well, so if the move gets pushed further out, it’s not wasted money.
    Next, create a Google Doc. Collaborate with your future housemate to decide what items you have and what items you’ll need. Build a list of items needed from there, and split the cost when possible to ensure one of you isn’t doing all the heavy lifting, pocket-wise. (A friend of mine racked up a crazy debt that sent her into bankruptcy when she agreed to buy all the stuff for the house she moved into with her boyfriend, on a spoken agreement that he’d “someday” pay her back.)
    I generally advise against buying anything from the list before you have papers signed on an apartment and walked through to sort of mentally graph where things will go. I have too much furniture and too few places to put it, and I regret that.
    I always immediately want a Swiffer, a chair for the living room, something to sleep on, a pot, a skillet, silverware and lots of bath stuff. Everything else can wait. This move, I’ve managed to live without a lot of “essentials”, like a microwave and dish drainer.

  15. Absolute necessities:
    *vacuum cleaner (relatively big purchase for some people that you can easily buy and store ahead of time)

    *shower curtain and hooks (self explanatory)

    *floor lamp with lightbulb (some places don’t have overhead lighting in every room, and it’s difficult to clean and unpack in the dark!)

    ***collapsible card table (can serve as kitchen table, desk, etc until you get a permanent one, and it’s always useful to have around later for holidays, crafts, cards!, etc)

    DON’T buy a box spring until you know where you are living! Even normal looking houses have awkward stair cases that can make it impossible to get it upstairs. So, one jimmy-rigged bed frame and a box spring being stored in the garage later…we wish we had not bought one OR got one of those split box springs.

    I would wait on most furniture. Some kitchens are so small you can’t fit a table and chairs. And some living room set ups work better with end tables than a coffee table. I don’t see how you could go wrong with a dresser for the bedroom, though. Although I was glad that my husband and I had two different sizes because one had to go under a window and double as a night stand beside the bed!

    Good luck!

  16. Your first resource IMO for getting stuff would be the parental-units. You’ve got 2 sets, and maybe they’d love the opportunity to unload some household goods that they don’t need/don’t want/just want to upgrade. You might be able to get nicer stuff that way than you could afford. Furniture is expensive, so I’d save up and get it later, except for something to sleep on/sit on. An air mattress even will do in a pinch. Maybe the parents will help set you up, or let you take some furniture not just household goods.

  17. I’d say avoid buying anything before you move, because that means more things to move! And like your mom said you might find out things don’t fit or work. When I first moved out of my parents I had very little furniture (most were extra pieces my parent’s didn’t want) so moving was super easy. Two years later today I’m moving again and I’ve have way more to move that I’m not looking forward to. The first day you move in, go out shopping for the essentials (toilet paper, paper towels, foods, etc). If there are certain furniture items you’d like to buy, order them to be delivered to your new house. Saves you the trouble of moving it yourself. As for other essentials, think of what you’d pack to go on vacation and what you’d expect to have in a hotel and have those things handy. I used an air mattress till I got my bed over. Sometimes roughin’ it for a few days is worth not having the stress of having too much. And once you really get a feel for the place it makes it so much easier to know what you really need to buy. Good luck on your move!

  18. if you can hold out until september places like target, walmart and sears clearance out all the dorm stuff. I remember getting sets of dishes and pots and pans for under $10 when we moved in together. it wont be super great quality but if you decide to register you wont feel as guilty asking for some nicer upgrades. Also dont forget a new toliet seat!

  19. When I moved into my first college apartment, I didn’t know that the utilities needed to be turned on! (That is, I thought they’d be active already and I’d need to switch the account over to my name.) My boyfriend and I spent a weekend camping out with no electricity, no gas for the stove, and no hot water (thankfully the toilet still worked) until we could get in touch with the local gas & electric company and the phone company.

    My first bit of advice is to figure that out with the rental company and contact the utilities company BEFORE you move in. My next would be to have candles and matches, a couple of flashlights or even a lantern, a shower curtain, a clock that does not need plugging in, notepad and writing implements, toilet paper, and trash bags. And not-immediately-perishable, does-not-need-reheating food, with the necessary utensils and dishes. Figure out where you can charge your phone(s) if you don’t have electricity in the new place.

  20. I’m in the “don’t buy anything until after you move” camp. I have moved a lot (if I’m counting right, my move next month will be #20 since I left my childhood home). I would make sure you have a comfortable bed (and if you have comfortable sleeping pads/air mattress, I would even wait on ordering the bed until a few days spent in the new home!), a table and chairs, shortly after moving in, and then acquire things very slowly after that.

    Here is my reasoning:
    – If you are are moving to a place you plan to live for a longer period of time – you want to get to know the space, and know how your needs evolve. The way the light comes into a home, your working schedules, and the gifts you get for your wedding might all impact what you think you need. That awesome king size bed you want to order? Maybe not such a great idea if it means tripping over everything else in your bedroom while you’re trying not to wake up your partner as you head off to an early workday. That fabulous desk? Maybe it doesn’t fit where you really want to sit to take advantage of views and light. That great deal on a big screen tv? Maybe it turns out that it is too big for you to enjoy it. You got a microwave AND a toaster oven? Oops, maybe there isn’t enough counter space. And so on.
    – You and your partner won’t really have a good sense of how much stuff you already have, and how it works together, until you get it all in the same space.
    – It’s impossible to anticipate all of the angles and corners and doorways in your house involved in moving in a big piece of furniture until you are living there.
    – After a few weeks in the space, you’ll have a better sense of what you need to make sure you have enough individual space/privacy, AND spaces that are comfortable to be in together.

    Also: with any furniture purchase, I’d really recommend marking out the space it would take up on the floor with masking tape, and leaving those marks there for a day or two before purchasing. Also consider how long you will probably be in this place – do you want to get heavy, awkward furniture if you will be moving again soon?

  21. For me it was about having access to the things that bring ultimate comfort. I knew that after a long day (or few days) moving in that I would need to be able to make a cup of tea and a hot meal with ease. Kettle, microwave, cutlery, crockery = CHECK! A comfy place to sleep. Mattress and all my fav linen = CHECK! A hot, relaxing shower/bath. Big fluffy towels = CHECK! That was all i needed to be happy, just figure out what you need to be happy! I have been able to aquire (being a broke uni student means creatively commandeering other people’s old “throwout” items) a few pieces since then as my home showed me what what necessary and what would work. The best way to find out what works in a home is to live in the space so i wouldnt get too much beforehand if i were you.

  22. I wouldn’t get too much–a saucepan and skillet and a few dishes and silverware for the kitchen, something to sleep on, maybe something to sit on but not your actual permanent furniture. I don’t think there is anything terrible about kind of camping out in your new place with your sweetie for a bit, while you figure out what you need.

    When I first moved in with my husband, he was coming from an apartment with a murphy bed, and I had been living 500 miles away and didn’t feel like moving my not-so-great mattress, so we slept on an air mattress. We had a twin futon in the livingroom and a coffee table (where I worked), a few dining-ish chairs and my old dresser. We picnicked on the livingroom floor and slowly acquired furniture over the next few weeks and months. We found the right couch for our particular livingroom, agreed a queen bed was as large as our apartment could accommodate, measured the walls and nooks to determine book cases… it was probably 6 months before we had most of our stuff, but it was fun.

    I understand your eagerness to start shopping–it makes the far off move feel closer–but it’s so fun to figure it out together. I say save up and shop once the apartment is rented.

  23. If you haven’t seen the apartment, I’d suggest an air mattress, neutral dishes, a plain shower curtain, and a plain trash can, dishwashing liquid, sponges, paper towels and the toiletries you’d need anywhere. When you get there you’ll know what size and style furniture will look good and feel comfortable, any specialized cleaning stuff for your floors or appliances, what kind of window coverings you need, what colors look good, etc. We quickly found out that our old curtains were no match for our floor to ceiling windows, and I’m glad we didn’t buy more in those sizes. We also found we need a split box spring to get up our narrow staircase. My very first apartment was under construction when I looked at it, and I moved in to find a HOT PINK bathroom. I could have cried. But I took the stuff back and rededicated myself to “renter white”. Congratulations and good luck!

  24. I’m in the buy very little camp myself, but there are a few things I want to have with me from the minute I move in somewhere. Really, these are almost more like moving supplies than furniture (many of which have already been said here, but to recap):

    – shower curtain and shower curtain rings
    – toilet paper, cleaning brush & plunger (have you ever had a toilet freak out in the first hour of being in a new place? This lady over here has)
    – all purpose cleaner & lots of rags or paper towels (new places are never as clean as they look once you get in and actually start looking around)
    – snacks (bought the day before a move): easy eat fruit like apples, easy open packaged foods like chips and/or a bag of cookies, and a few bottled drinks so that you can reuse the bottles until you find the cups
    – something to sleep on until you get a bed if you aren’t moving a bed, such as an air mattress or old futon

    The only thing I ALWAYS regret moving is stuff that I should have already thrown out (or, if it’s usable by someone else, brought to a charity or used store). If it’s possible to do a purge of your belongings to decide what you actually use or want before you move, all the less stuff to carry!

  25. I’d say if you are looking to buy a house, you will want a couch or some sort of comfy seating right away but hold off on exercise equipment or things that aren’t things you absolutely need. Maybe that’s why I’m fat. jk 😉

    Also don’t go nuts with window treatments while renting. And if you are looking to sell things before you move, do it a few weeks in advance because when you are in the middle of lugging a 300 pound bookshelf down 3 flights of stairs, you will probably just think, ‘screw this. it’s going in the dumpster’ and won’t wanna arrange to sell it

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