Before signing, make sure you understand when rent is due, whether there's a grace period, and whether there are any other monthly expenses you'll owe the management company (some places charge you for trash removal, parking, pool rights, basic cable, electric). How often can they increase rent? Are you responsible for setting up and paying your own utilities (electric, water, internet, cable)? Do you control your own heat / air conditioning, or does management turn it on and off for the season? How long is your lease? What happens when that initial term runs out, if you want to stay there (does it become month-to-month)?
Will you have a roommate? If so, what happens if your roommate suddenly stops paying rent (are you responsible for all of it)? If you don't have a roommate, could you get one if you wanted (would a roommate be considered "subletting" or would they have to sign the lease with management)?
Definitely be OCD about the move-in condition and take pictures. I recommend using a list like this: http://housing.ucsc....n-checklist.pdfBe sure to get and keep a copy of any piece of paper you sign and the move-in condition check list!
I completely understand wanting to run out and get everything you need to furnish your place, but it's really worth it to take your time. With careful hunting on Craigslist or Goodwill / Habitat for Humanity type re-stores, you could find some really nice furniture for a fraction of what it costs new. Also, don't forget the transforming power of nice slip-covers for a couch (we just transformed our living room by getting a slip-cover for our old, battered couch). A few carefully selected accessories like decorative pillows or a throw blanket can make a room of mis-matched furniture look nicely coordinated. Depending on how crafty or skilled you are, getting some older furniture with good "bones" that could be recovered is also an option -- and completely personalized!
You may be surprised by how little you need when you're living solo, even if you want guests! It makes sense to wash a lot of dishes rather than buy a ton that'll stack up ... I recommend either a HomeGoods-type store or Target for basic cooking / eating essentials. If you're thinking shelves / storage, I recommend the "cube" options available from Ikea or Target: http://www.target.co...c_qi_detaillink
These are pretty inexpensive and don't look too cheap when first setting up, and then can be moved to a closet / extra room / garage as you accumulate nicer furniture.
I could go on and on with options ... ! =) Good luck!