19 practical purchases I wish someone had told me to make for my first apartment

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modsy, from Dollar 59 Modsy/Instagram Modsy is an inexpensive tool that helps you make the most of your space, like the interior design version of Sims.

  • Moving into your first apartment can be stressful - and it's a godsend when someone can lay out a few no-nonsense purchases you might want to make.
  • With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, these are the purchases I wish that I had made, or was glad that I did.
  • You can also find 21 helpful products we've bought for our apartments here.
Moving into your first apartment will likely be stressful. For many, it coincides with such life-changing events as graduating, moving out of their guardian's home, and starting their career. You might suddenly have the responsibility of updating your résumé, buying suitable work clothes, and putting up a security deposit and first month's rent. By the end of it, your brain and wallet can feel empty.

But, hindsight is 20/20, and after a couple years of living in my own place, I've rounded up 19 purchases that I'm either very glad I made or wished I had before moving in. Most are practical, and some - like easy-to-assemble couches - may not be in the budget. But, if you can't get everything, the ones you can are sure to come in handy.

Below are 19 things I wish someone had told me to buy for my first apartment:

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Wine glasses that guests can't break

Wine glasses that guests can't break
Stemless Wine Glasses, $48, available on Snowe

Snowe makes some of the best modern home goods —they're a bit more expensive than average but much more affordable than other luxury options. The wine glasses are a particularly good example: compact and streamlined but undeniably functional. They're elegant while still being dishwasher safe and hard to break, so you can offer guests nice wine glasses without the threat of them winding up crushed on the floor. Even though I have stemmed wine glasses too, visitors tend to favor these.

A matching set of dishes

A matching set of dishes
Valia 16-Piece Full Dinnerware Set, $39.99, available on Wayfair

If it's your first apartment, do yourself the favor of giving away the hodgepodge cups and plates you've accumulated over the years, and invest in a matching set you'll be happy to own, eat out of every day, and covers all the bases. This is actually the exact set that I have because it's such a good deal (it's currently 67% off).

Kitchen basics

Kitchen basics
Kitchen Utensil Set, $15.39, available on Amazon

I spoke from experience when I said that your roommates may have gotten the utensils, and now you're stuck trying to furnish a home with the good luxuries like nice sheets as well as the less glamorous necessities like spoons and forks. Buying the basics in bulk is an easy (and thankfully cheap) way to kill a few birds with one stone.

All the miscellaneous objects your parents own but you have never bought

All the miscellaneous objects your parents own but you have never bought
Safety Pins, $8.98, available on Amazon Professional Wine Opener, $10.95, available on Amazon OXO Bottle and Can Opener, $6.99, available on Amazon Sharpies 4-Pack, $4.99, available on Amazon Wine Stopper Vacuum and Stoppers, $11.89, available on Amazon Lint Roller 4-Pack, $16.97, available on Amazon

These are just a few of the random objects you likely take for granted in other people's homes. Pick some of them up ahead of time so you're not inevitably inconvenienced. Trust me, even if "you know [X] is somewhere" it's more worthwhile to have one on hand than to spend 15 minutes searching.

Expert input on making everything fit together

Expert input on making everything fit together
Modsy Project, from $69, available on Modsy

Modsy is a service that makes 3D models of the rooms you want to decorate based on pictures you send and its basic dimensions. If you're planning to spend a few years in your first apartment, it may be worth the extra expense to have an expert help you curate your space. I used Modsy to help me make the most out of my small NYC bedroom — letting me enjoy my home as much as possible, and not put any burden of mastering an unfamiliar trait like interior design on myself.

A set of nice knives

A set of nice knives
Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set, $129.95, available on Amazon

If it's in the budget, a set of nice knives can go a long way in making your home cooking more efficient. This set is a good value on Amazon (around 95% of the reviewers gave the set four- or five-star ratings.), and we ranked them the best knife set you can buy without a block in the Insider Picks Buying Guide to knives.

A way to fill in the tiny holes you made in your drywall

A way to fill in the tiny holes you made in your drywall
4-in-1 Patch Plus Primer, $6, available on Amazon

Whether it's on accident or a casualty of putting up shelving or frames, you'll probably wind up with a few minor holes in your drywall. In case they're on accident, or you have to fill them before moving out, do yourself a favor and order a way to fill them in before you actually need it.

A candle lighter

A candle lighter
Ronxs Rechargeable Candle Lighter, $17.99, available at Amazon

Welcome to the world of rechargeable candle lighters. They're flame-less, and they'll efficiently light your candles using electricity. This one can be rotated 360-degrees, which is great for reaching into narrow or almost-gone candles without exposing yourself. We count it as one of our most helpful apartment purchases.

Furniture that's easy to move

Furniture that's easy to move
Campaign Sofa, from $1,495, available on Campaign Burrow Sofa, from $1195, available on Burrow

Both of these online furniture startups specialize in furniture that's easy to put together and easy to move — so when you switch to a new place next year, you don't have to spend forty minutes negotiating in a stairwell or breathing into a paper bag. (Burrow is cheaper and was ranked as one of Time's 50 best inventions, but an Insider Picks reporter preferred Campaign's sofa.)

Burrow estimates that it takes four to 20 minutes to assemble its furniture, depending on the specific product. Its furniture ships in five to nine days.

Campaign's estimate is 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the specific product. Its furniture ships in four to seven days.

This wasn't in my budget for my first apartment, but it may be worth looking into if it works with yours. Otherwise, you may opt for a cheap Wayfair couch neither roommate feels the need to claim upon moveout day.

Tools for emergencies

Tools for emergencies
Stanley 65-Piece Homeowners DIY Tool Kit, $42.24, available on Amazon

If you're moving into to an apartment, most major issues will likely be addressed by your super — depending on how attentive they are. But for all the times when you'll need to rely on yourself, or just to learn lifelong skills sooner rather than later, you should own your own tool kit. Especially if you're buying IKEA furniture with setup requirements that will have you sweating, it's useful to already own the tools you'll need. I'd also recommend investing in a power drill (I own and love this $49 one from Black+Decker).

Matching hangers

Matching hangers
AmazonBasics 100-Pack Velvet Suit Hangers, $36.99, available on Amazon

Pick a color and convert your hangers to one monochrome set. It will make your closet look a lot nicer for relatively little pain or expense.

Storage that doesn't resemble a dorm room

Storage that doesn't resemble a dorm room
White & Grey Enamel Kitchen Canisters, Set of 4, available on Food52, $54

If you're going to store pantry essentials in plain sight, it's worth investing in canisters you won't hate seeing every day of your life. Enamelware is lightweight, stackable, dishwasher-safe, and can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill. These white, grey-trimmed canisters fuse modern and vintage nicely, and the set comes with 1-quart, 2-quart, 2.5-quart, and 3-quart canisters. Find 30 more options here.

A nice vacuum you won't have to immediately replace

A nice vacuum you won't have to immediately replace
Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum for Carpet and Hard Floor, $145.99, available on Amazon

One of the best investments you can make, aside from a set of really nice sheets, is a good vacuum — one you won't have to fight or replace every time you need to do a deep clean. This one is under $150, and it's got a five-year warranty and a lift-off canister and hose that you can use for most spaces. We also named it the best inexpensive vacuum overall in our guide to the best vacuums you can buy for less than $300.

A leveler

A leveler
Stanley Magnetic Torpedo Level, $5.99

So you think you'd like to hang a picture — or anything — straight? Use a leveler. It's cheap, and you'll find yourself using it more often than you'd expect. It's not fancy, but it will work for most odd jobs in a first apartment.

A hamper that's easy to carry up and down stairs

A hamper that's easy to carry up and down stairs
iwill Hanging Laundry Bag, $13.99, available on Amazon

Another thing to remember if you're sharing a washer and dryer with the rest of the inhabitants of your building is that there will sometimes be stairs or elevators involved. Do yourself a favor and get a cheap hamper that you can easily move your clothes in.

A clothes drying rack

A clothes drying rack
AmazonBasics Foldable Drying Rack, $19.41, available on Amazon

If you're living in an apartment building with shared washers and dryers, assume that at least some of your laundry will come out of the dryer you pay to operate still damp. This drying rack is a nice solution. It's also good if you're finally willing to properly take care of your delicates.

A way to get white collars back to white

A way to get white collars back to white
The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar, from $6, available on Amazon

If you're wearing button-ups or something similar to work every day, rest assured the collars and overall shirt will begin to look a little dingy. But, you'd probably also like to spend a smaller portion of your paycheck on clothes you exclusively wear to work. We swear by this stain removing bar to bring our own clothes back from the brink. It's also nice that it's non-toxic, biodegradable, and allergen free.

A full-length mirror

A full-length mirror
Naomi Home Modern Mirror, $129.99, available on Amazon

It may seem like a no-brainer, but I lived in my first adult apartment for weeks without coming around to spending over $100 on a full-length mirror. If you're going to put together a professional outfit — or live a life that doesn't regular require climbing all over your bathroom to see if these pants work with this top — you should own one. It's worth it. And since it's going to take up a good amount of your home, it's worth spending a little extra on one you won't hate owning. Both Amazon and Wayfair have some solid options for manageable prices.

Reusable vacuum storage bags

Reusable vacuum storage bags
SpaceSaver Reusable Vacuum Storage Bags, $25.99, available on Amazon

If it's your first place, you're probably schlepping around a lot of storage: nostalgic school t-shirts, puffy winter jackets you can no longer store at home, and a myriad of other things, but you may not have space in an affordable apartment to let things sprawl. Quickly, your possessions can become anxiety-inducing clutter. That's why these easy to use vacuum sealed bags are one of the best apartment purchases I've ever made. As an extra life hack, get a size that you can fit inside a suitcase while you're not using it.

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