Congratulations, you’ve got your first flat in London! I've moved into a lot of new apartments and houses in London. I can now say I've got the first home essentials more or less figured out. Here's everything you need to buy for your first apartment in London. This article has the most budget-friendly first flat essentials every new renter needs (and leaves out the junk that's unnecessary!).
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Note: As always, I've included links for both U.S. and UK Amazon, in case you're ordering before you arrive in London or using this list for your first apartment elsewhere! In some cases, I couldn't find a good U.S. option I'd feel comfortable recommending, but I did my best!
I've also, generally gone with what I think is the best value for money option for each of the recommended items. Basically, moving is expensive, so these are the things I'd recommend if you're trying to spend as little as possible. I know they're not always the most exciting design-wise, but let me know if you'd like me to do a separate list of the cutest (but still decently cost-effective!) items.
A mattress topper is my top first flat essential every new renter needs. Mattresses in London rentals are NOTORIOUSLY horrible and landlords basically never replace them.
I got one from Argos years ago which makes my bed SO MUCH more comfortable. I've found a similar one on Amazon here:
You need a decent duvet obviously. Particularly if your windows don't have double glazing, it might get super cold in your house in the winter.
Here's a super similar one to mine on from Amazon:
Pillows are pretty self-explanatory. These ones are a good value. Some places do come with pillows and duvets, but I personally would rather not use someone else's bedding as I think it's kinda gross.
These are the ones I'd personally go with from Amazon (I got my pillows from Argos and, honestly, they're not great):
If I'm being honest, my sheets are from Tesco and I bought them when I first moved here—they've lasted me FOREVER. I'd recommend just getting a cheap set of cotton sheets to start out with.
Here are similar ones from Amazon:
This wicker hamper is super similar to what I have. It's cute and can hold a couple weeks' worth of laundry (for those of us who like to procrastinate):
Storage is notoriously short in flats and houses in London, so it's useful to have some extra. I have this plastic organiser which I keep in my wardrobe for extra organisation.
Here's two like the one that I have:
If you've got space under your bed for storage, you NEED under-bed storage bins. I keep basically EVERYTHING under my bed.
Here's some similar to what I have from Amazon:
Command hooks are one of my favourite inventions in the entire world for renters. They're super useful for storage, and won't leave any deposit-ruining marks on the wall.
I have these ones:
And these ones for my shower:
My last flat didn't have a full-length mirror, so I bought one similar to the ones below and affixed it to the back of my bathroom door with command strips. The best news is, there were no marks on the wall when I moved out!
Some of my flats have come with a clothes drying rack / airer, others haven't. These ones are solid, space-saving choices.
Again, there may be hangers in your wardrobe when you arrive in a new flat, but there probably won't be enough. In particular, I like velvet hangers as they keep your clothes on without damaging them.
I like these ones from Amazon:
Some kitchens in London rentals are pretty well-stocked, while others are completely empty. That being said, there are a few things that you should buy no matter what.
The water in London honestly doesn't taste great, so I've been using a Brita filter jug for ages.
You can buy it on Amazon here:
We use the Amazon brand replacement cartridges which you can buy here:
Okay, so there may already be some in your flat or house, but they're probably all scratched up and gross.
Here's a good starter set from Amazon:
Okay, so you'll need at least a few spices to get you started before you do a proper shop.
I'd recommend getting:
All purpose seasoning
You can buy them on Amazon Fresh UK (or Whole Foods in the U.S.) using the links above.
Here are the ones I use, which you can buy on Amazon Fresh:
Here's what my parents use in the states:
I like these ones from Amazon which are similar to the ones we have. I recommend these ones because they're actually absorbent. I've got some from Sainsbury's that look nice, but don't actually dry your hands or dishes well.
I'd recommend one of these from Amazon:
The plates and bowls and mugs we have are similar to these from Amazon basics.
The U.S. set doesn't have mugs, but you can buy some similar ones here:
You can find a decent set on Amazon here:
I'd recommend one of these from Amazon:
This set looks very similar to the one in our kitchen:
I bought a set very similar to this one when I first moved:
I have purchased ones like these from Amazon:
I literally could not live without a microwave. Here are two I'd recommend. Honestly, as far as microwaves go, you're pretty safe just going with a cheap one.
You can find a good, basic one on Amazon here.
I have this one from Amazon:
I'd recommend these 🍷 wine glasses:
And these are good for water and other drinks:
I have this one from Amazon:
Here's a good one on Amazon:
I had one that looks like this one from Amazon here in my old place.
If you're lucky enough to have a dishwasher, that is 😋.
We use these ones:
Note: I had never heard of this until my first flat with a dishwasher in London. It's to help with hard water stains. You load it in periodically into a particular spot in your dishwasher)
Here's some on Amazon:
Here's some on Amazon (reminder, we need to buy some of this ourselves!):
You can find a nice one from Amazon here:
I have one like this from Amazon:
I have a similar one to this one from Amazon:
We randomly bought this Joe Wicks tupperware, but, honestly, it's really good. However, we get most of our tupperware from ordering takeaway 😉. I also have this classic Glad tupperware from the U.S.
Your flat may come with one, but I also think sharing this with a complete stranger is gross, so I'm including it as one of my first home essentials.
I have one that's basically the same as this one:
I have this one from Amazon UK (I've found a similar one on Amazon U.S.):
I use these ones in my bathroom:
So, this is the toilet roll we buy for our house. I don't have a particular recommendation from the U.S. Amazon store (as the Whole Foods brand looks like it'd fall apart in a SECOND and normal Amazon only seems to have extortionately-priced tp at the moment?).
Even though there's probably already a toilet brush in your flat, it's pretty gross to use someone else's poopy toilet brush.
I have this set (and found a similar one on Amazon U.S. as well!).
Like with the toilet roll, this is another one where I don't have a good U.S. recommendation (and the U.S. Amazon prices still seem a bit off for hand soap).
I don't personally have these (mine are hand-me-downs from my parent's house), but this is the set I'd buy:
Weirdly, none of my flats have had these!
I have one that looks like this one:
The water in London is SO HARD and can really do a number on your hair.
I like this clarifying shampoo, which you can buy on Amazon here:
Now, I've never splurged for one of these, but my friend in Denmark has one and loves it (and I have showered at her flat and agree!).
She has one like this one from Amazon:
Now, for these ones, I've just recommended what I use here in the UK. In some cases, you can find these products in the U.S., or I know of similar, good products there. But, I don't want to recommend anything I haven't used, so some of these only have UK recommendations!
Everything in London gets damp and mould is a real problem. This is the best mould cleaner I've found.
This is a good all purpose cleaner.
You need something that can specifically get rid of lime scale / hard water stains in London.
You can buy this one on Amazon:
This is my favourite floor cleaner. It doesn't smell chemically at ALL and actually works!
Buy it on Amazon:
This one works for getting my drain unblocked (even when I have super long hair) and I'm pretty sure has a money-back guarantee.
These are super useful for preventing mould in the damp environment that is London.
Buy them on Amazon:
You may or may not already have a hoover in your new home.
This is one where I don't have a U.S. recommendation and they don't specifically sell this type of hoover in the U.S. The Henry hoover range (particularly Hetty here!) is super cute and works REALLY well!
I have this one from Amazon (and my cleaner said it was a good mop!). It's basically knock-off Swifter WetJet. I've linked a similar one from Amazon U.S.
This is important for security and my mom made me buy one after our house got robbed. Basically, you can put it under your door from the inside so no one can open the door.
This is important, so listen up! A lot of rental agreements stipulate that you must not use blue tac to hang things up in your flat (if you want your deposit back). I use painter's tape instead, which doesn't leave a mark (even if it's there for years).
I also use command strips for heavier items.
If you're moving from another country to London, you'll need these.
Here's one similar to what I have that you can buy on Amazon:
A lot of old houses in London don't have many power outlets. Enter, the power strip.
Here's one you can buy on Amazon (which is I think the same one we have):
It can get COLD in old homes in London in the winter (especially when your windows aren't double glazed).
Here's one my best friend recommends (he's done a TONNE of research on them for his new house) that you can buy on Amazon. I couldn't find the exact same one on Amazon U.S., but linked a similar one.
Okay, this is an extra, but we got them free recently with our Spotify Premium subscription and they're so useful? I use it for everything now and they're not *too* expensive.
If you're ever going to have guests, an air mattress is a good shout.
I have this one (and linked a similar one from the U.S. store too):
So, that's it! That's everything I bought for my first place in London. What're your first home essentials? Let me know in the comments below.
If you're interested in more tips, check out this article on moving to London.