Yesterday, I acquired a comfy new chair. It’s round and cushy with a straight back, shaped almost like someone got a very large barrel, cut out the front third, and upholstered it. It swivels, guaranteeing hours of revolving fun to come. It’s white leather, aged, to be sure, but nothing a little leather cleaner and mood lighting won’t cure.
I got the chair off Craigslist for less than the price of a gourmet pizza. Most of my major transactions since moving to LA have been facilitated through these online classifieds: my apartment, the furniture in it, my car, a couple of cash paying gigs, my boyfriend. Just kidding. Him I got on eBay.
Craigslist is a great resource for household stuff when you’re starting out. You can often find nice, usable furniture for free that people just want to get out of their house. You can also find far fancier furnishings if that’s what you’re looking for. When furniture shopping, be prepared to pick up your purchase as soon as you e-mail the seller—-often people won’t hold items longer than it takes the first responder to show up on their doorstep, cash in hand. Consider renting a pickup truck for the weekend of your used furniture binge–although you may be able to bungee your new bed to the roof of your Civic, a truck will make the move easier and infinitely safer for everyone involved.
If you are going to make any major purchases on Craigslist, make sure you take some basic precautions. Although there are some honest, lovely people out there, you’re likely to encounter some skeezebags, too. Buy locally. (That guy who e-mails you from Armenia, explaining his frustration registering his brand new, underpriced car in the U.S.A.? He is lying to you.) Deal only in cash or cashier’s checks if possible. (Never, ever give out personal financial info like credit card or bank account numbers.) And, as Craigslist itself recommends, trust your instincts. If you get a bad vibe from someone who’s trying to sell you something, move on. There are a million other gently used pieces of furniture out there, just waiting for you to sit on them.