List of Basic, Household Essentials for Starting Out on Your Own
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List of Basic, Household Essentials for Starting Out on Your Own

A resourceful guide for people moving out on their own; lists many basic items you will need to set up a functioning household

My son is moving out on his own, again, but this time without roommates or siblings. This time, he is moving solo, and he will need to set up house "from scratch".  While I was shopping for his birthday/housewarming gift, I began making a mental list of all the things he would need (excluding actual furniture and groceries), and it struck me that a guide or list of all things essential for setting up a household would be very handy.  So, here it is.  Keep in mind these are the minimum, bare-bones basics, and depending upon your likes, skills, and talents, you'll want to expand on this list over time (for example, if you really love to cook, you'll need other kitchen gadgets to make your time in the kitchen more efficient and enjoyable).

Essential Kitchen Tools

  • 4-place setting tableware:  plates, saucers, cups, bowls
  • 20-piece flatware: knives, forks, tablespoons, teaspoons
  • Water glasses/tumblers
  • Can opener
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Minimum of three sharp knives:  paring knife, chef's knife; serrated knife (bread knife)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Whisk
  • Rubber or silicon scraper/spatula
  • Measuring cup(s)
  • Cutting board
  • Minimum of three cooking pots:  frying pan, small saucepan, large saucepan big enough for cooking pasta or corn on the cob, etc.; with lids
  • Two or three mixing/serving bowls of varying sizes
  • Medium sized casserole dish (something that can be used in the oven, microwave, and freezer)
  • Dish cloths and dish towels, minimum of four each
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Draining rack for washing dishes
  • Ice cube trays, if your fridge doesn't have them (check)
  • Garbage can and recycling box
  • Garbage bags
  • Food wrap or reusable storage containers for leftover food
  • Paper towel

Bathroom Essentials

  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet brush
  • Shower curtain
  • Bath mat
  • 3 large bath towels and 6 face cloths
  • Bar soap and/or liquid soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Other personal toiletries
  • Waste basket
  • Toilet plunger

Bedroom Essentials

  • One or preferably two sheet sets (flat, fitted, and pillow cases; remember to wash them first before using, as they can feel starchy and stiff)
  • Two blankets or quilts; one lightweight, the other heavier (depending on your climate of course; more or fewer may be needed)
  • One or two really good'll be thankful you invested in a good quality pillow, as you'll have a much better sleep, and it will last longer than the really cheap ones
  • Alarm clock; one with a battery back-up is a good idea
  • Clothes hangers
  • Window coverings, unless supplied
  • Laundry hamper

Cleaning Essentials

  • Dish soap
  • Scouring pads for pots and pans
  • Baking soda (removes stains on countertops and freshens the fridge)
  • Laundry detergent and fabric softener if you use it
  • Window cleanser; or just use white vinegar and water
  • Tub and tile cleanser
  • Toilet bowl cleanser, or all-purpose scouring powder (it's inexpensive and works well) 
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop and mop bucket
  • Rubber gloves and cleaning rags
  • Carpet sweeper or vacuum cleaner.  As a vacuum can be very expensive, look at for cheapest prices and free shipping.

Miscellaneous Useful Items

  • Lightbulbs
  • Batteries
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Scotch tape or masking tape
  • Band-Aids; actually a small first aid kit is a good idea, including Aspirin or Tylenol
  • Air freshener
  • Cookbook
  • Drying rack for clothes (saves on laundry expenses)
  • Tools: screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wrench, nails and picture hangers

As I mentioned, these are just the basics; not everyone will have the same needs, but you can run a household with the above list of items.  Actually, you can live with a lot less , but having these essential items will help you to live comfortably, yet thriftily.  Hopefully, this list of essential household items will aid you or someone you know as they venture out on their own. Check out for the best deals on Home and Kitchen, including free shipping.


Moving out of your parent’s home and getting out on our own is never really easy, especially if you are in a hurry and can’t wait to get into your new home. Patience is best. Take the time to look around your parent’s home and write down everything you have become used to using. It is so easy to forget the most simplest of items. Make a list of priorities that you need the most first and then work lower on the list. There is always something you might forget, but making lists can make the job of moving much easier.

For more tips on home organization, and for more great lists, you might enjoy reading my related articles:

Great Kitchen tools beyond the Basics

How to Organize Your Kitchen to be Efficient

How to Create a Master Grocery List with Free Template

And, After you've cleaned up and organized everything, you might need to know How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale.

Copyright July 2010, Sharla Smith. For your convenience, this list may be copied for personal use, as long as the author's copyright is included.

Source:  Personal experience...too much personal experience!

Photo Source:  Microsoft Images

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Comments (35)

I'm sure many will find this useful. I know many young people who've made do with far less than this too!

Yes, Val, I too have made do with far less. For example, a person can do without a ladle (a cup will suffice), but it is very useful and less messy to use. Thank you for reading and for your comments!

Great list! I think you have thought of everything!

Great List! I have at this point decided that when a baby comes into our lives I'm hiring help for laundry. Laundry by far is the biggest burden of any household! That and keeping up with cleaning the bathroom- it doesn't matter if you clean it in the afternoon- there are water and soap stains somewhere by bed time!

Thanks for yout input, Kate. Yes, laundry is a huge task...especially getting it all folded, hung, and put back into it's "home" in drawers and closets. As far as bathrooms go, I keep cleaning supplies in a cupboard in the bathroom so its very handy to just quickly tidy and clean things as you go...but it IS never ending!

Those are the essentials and he will need them. The first move out for a son can be the toughest, but necessary for his benefit of achieving independence and first hand experience. Good luck to him and of course, you, too. A great awareness article!

Thank you for reading, Richard, and for your kind comments.

Another helpful, usually taken for granted lists. Thanks for sharing.

Great tips, Sharla! A lot of these items might be forgotten, especially by a young person - until they're needed, that is.

Thanks, Stacy. That's usually the case, isn't it? You don't realize you need it, need it!


This is awesome! I wish I had had this list when I was moving out on my own. I was so naive that when we forgot to buy ketchup on our first grocery trip I was confused as to why it wasn't already in the fridge. LOL.

Thanks Rachael (and everyone I forgot to thank!) Perhaps that would be a good feature for renting apartments - "...and the fridge comes pre-stocked with ketchup and dill pickles!" LOL

When I first started on my own I had 1 fork, 1 spoon, 1 plate, 1 mug (so I can use it both for hot and cold drinks), 1 bowl (for instant noodles), 1 spatula, rice cooker (to cook rice, heat water and sometimes fry hotdog, and then I got me a frying pan) and a knife, that's for the kitchen. For bedroom, a mattress with no frame, a foldable closet, 2 changes of blanket, bedsheet and pillowcases and an electric fan (I live in the tropics). for the living room nada. Cleaning tools: broom, dustpan, scouring pad, liquid dish cleaner, powdered soap to clean the floors and wash my clothes. And then the basic personal hygeine stuffs.

True that we can survive with much less than this list suggests. . . just nice to have if possible. Thank you for your comments, mary jane; I always appreciate other's input.

This list is a good idea and I am sure it will be printed out many times as a guide for first time movers.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Jill.

You have done a fantastic job with this article.

Great tips for those fresh young people just starting out! Ah those were the days... *Grins*

Martin and Ann, thanks for your lovely comments! (Sorry for the late reply - I`ve been away)

Grace Carmickle

This helped A LOT thank you. I'm moving out on my own this friday and I still have a bunch of stuff I am gonna need lol.

Hi Grace, I'm really happy this article helped you. Good luck with your move, and enjoy your new place! Thanks for reading.

Charu Khanijo

gr8 list.. helped me a lot.. thank u..

Thanks for reading, Charu. I'm glad you found this article helpful.

Ellen Mphepo

Thanks alot Sharla, you've done me great, just what i've been looking for. I was overwhelmed as to what i should include on my list 'cause i'l be moving out on my own a few months to come. You've made my planning easy. Thanks once more

You're very welcome, Ellen, and thanks for reading. Good luck with your move!

thank good

Tamrh, thank you for reading.

Great article!

After getting my new job iam finally planning to move out in the coming months. This list(especially on kitchen items) has helped me plan on what i will need when i finally make the move. Also it has been helpful when it come to how much i will need to spend ..because it all adds up pretty quickly! Thank you Sharla :) Shane.

Thank you both Miriam and Shane; I appreciate your comments.  Shane, I hope the move out is going well!

whoever had made this list , i wish u a long and happy life , may god bless u and ur loved ones . thanx a lot

Hey, I m moving into my own apartment soon, like within the next week, I cannot seem to find where I can email this list to myself, I was wondering if you wouldnt mind emailing me the list.?

Ashaia, Thanks for your interest.  I am no longer an active member of this site (and have lost access to my own articles) - I had to re-register, but this site does not recognize me as the author.  I have given authorization to print this article, so if you can find a way to print it right from the knoji site, then you have my permission to do so.  Good luck with your move!

This is great, exactly what I was looking for! Thank You Sharla!