What You Need When Moving Out for the First Time
Whether you're 18, 26, or 52, we all have to move out of our parent's house eventually.
When I was 18 I loaded up my mom's soccer van with a butterfly chair, an electric kettle, some bedding, and every item of clothing I owned to cram into a small two person dorm. After graduating, I moved in with a friend and realized how little I had in terms of household items. I didn't even have a glass to drink out of let alone a couch to sit on or a dining table to eat at! Once we had our new place it seemed I was forever forgetting something else (oh yeah, lamps would be nice I guess...) and it took a few months until I felt like I could cook a meal without realizing I had to go buy a can opener or a spatula.
Recently, my 25-year-old colleague moved out of her father's house for the first time and asked me what I thought she'd need. I started listing off some of the main things I had forgotten, and then began to make her a list, which I share with you here.
A bed. And please, don't just put a mattress on the floor. Before we were married, my husband made the mistake of tipping his memory foam mattress up when the carpet was cleaned and putting it down again before it was completely dry. Months later when we finally did get a box spring and frame and lifted the mattress up again, the bottom was covered with mold. So please, don't put your mattress on the floor, let it breathe.
A nightstand. You don't want to have to get out of bed to turn off the light, do you? Get one big enough to hold what you need—books, a drink, alarm clock, lamp, even a laptop if you're a workaholic or Facebook addict. Or you could just drop stuff on the floor and trip over it in the morning. Your choice.
Someplace to put your clothes. Whether it be in the closet, hanging shelves, a dresser, an 18th century cherry wood armoire, or in bins, you need someplace to keep your duds.
A laundry basket. Yes, men, you do need one, if only for transportation.
A mirror. To make sure you're just as pretty as you think you are. Warning: Those over-the-door mirrors sometimes distort to make you look larger than you really are. Talk about depressing.
Something to sit on. A couch, sofa, beanbag, inflatable chair... just something comfortable. Remember, you can always get a slipcover to give an ugly couch a cute face.
A coffee table and/or side tables. As refined as most of us claim to be, we usually do a lot of our eating in our living rooms in front of the TV, so it's helpful to have something to put your beer and cheese puffs—I mean Chardonnay and brie cheese—on. Consider something with drawers for remote control and magazine storage. We had two Ikea Lack side tables pushed together as a coffee table for well over a year... a cheap and easy fix for $14!
Something to put your TV on. Be it a custom built entertainment center, a $15 Ikea TV stand, or an old desk, put your TV on something. It's helpful to have some media storage as well so you don't have stacks of Seinfeld DVDs lying around.
Lighting. Floor lamps, table lamps, ceiling lights... assess what your place needs and make sure it's well lit. You can find fun lanterns for as little as a couple bucks at a thrift store. A dark place looks dirty and uninviting. A well lit home looks warm and welcoming. Plus it scares away the cockroaches.
Dining table and chairs. These too can be found second-hand, and don't worry if the chairs don't match... just call it "eclectic."
A desk and chair. This is optional but useful to keep a computer or laptop on, your mail organized, and for writing those long letters to Aunt Gracie.
Other Things You'll Need
Trash cans. For the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Don't forget the bags.
Cleaning supplies. Vacuum, broom, dust pan, mop, bucket, Windex, paper towels, cleansers, scrub brush or sponge, toilet bowl cleaner and brush, duster....
Towels. Kitchen, bath, hand, washcloths, cleaning cloths, etc.
Shower curtain. Go with something PVC free. I use a cloth one and it's a snap to clean by just throwing it in the washer and dryer.
Toilet bowl scrubber & plunger. Get the plunger before you really need it.
Iron & ironing board. If you care about your appearance.
Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. So your mother can sleep soundly.
Fire extinguisher. To aid in your Top Chef attempts.
Light bulbs. The lights won't work without them, after all.
Tool box. You can buy a basic set just about anywhere. Make sure you have essentials like a hammer, flathead and philips screwdriver, measuring tape, level, nails, and screws, and don't forget some duct tape!
First aid. At the very least, you should have some band aids, antiseptic, a thermometer, and some tylenol on hand.
For the Kitchen
Here's what I use most in my kitchen:
- Coffeemaker. But then again, I'm a severe addict....
- Skillet. A good-sized one with a lid.
- Saucepan and/or stockpot. 1.5 qt and/or 3 qt, with lid.
- Mixing bowls.
- Utensils: wooden spoon(s), spatula, slotted spoon, slotted turner, ladle, can opener, bottle opener, and tongs.
- Oven mitts.
- Baking dishes. Glass or ceramic. I mostly use an 8x8 inch or a 9x13 inch.
- Cookie sheets.
- Cutting boards.
- Knives. A large chef's knife, a serrated knife, and a small utility knife for everything else.
- Kitchen shears.
- Measuring cups & spoons.
Moving Out Is Like Getting Married?
Not really, but I suggest searching for "wedding registry checklists." While you may not need twelve fine china place settings, it's a good reminder list to maybe print and check off when you go shopping for basics like toothbrush holders and cutting boards.
Other Furniture to Consider
Some other optional furniture pieces are bookshelves, an entry table/entry hooks or coat rack for keys and jackets, hanging shelves for either books, media, knickknacks or whatever you wish to display, rugs to cozy up a room and bring color, artwork or interesting accessories to decorate, curtains to keep your place warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and to cover those hideous vertical blinds, and in the kitchen if you need more counter top and storage space, a microwave cart or buffet is always useful.
That should be enough to help you survive your first week without ordering out every night.
Remember, it may be a bit expensive right at the get-go but you can always ask family and friends for old furniture and dishes or go bargain hunting, and once you have your basic setup, continue to add décor as time and money allow. Just make sure you have dishes before you get that amazing hand painted urn.
Good luck, and here's to independence!
Don't Forget the Toilet Paper
Or you're in for one awful realization after you've eaten that Havana omelette.