Furnishing on the Cheap and Cheaper

furnishing on the cheapSometimes, IKEA just isn’t cheap enough. That’s where Craigslist, estate sales, and garage sales come into play.

While IKEA has affordable, attractive furniture options for nearly every budget level, the prices can still be steep for someone just starting out on their own. When your furnishing budget is minimal the most obvious place to start is Craigslist. Options change every day, so you never know what you will find.  On Craigslist, you want to make sure you browse the categories Furniture and Free Stuff under the header For Sale to truly maximize how many items you see. Also be sure to use different keywords for the same item, like “sofa” “loveseat” and “couch”, as people use all different kinds of names.

Estate sales are another great resource for people needing furniture without blowing the bank. You can simply Google “Estate sales in [your city]” and you’ll find a whole bunch of links of estate sales for the upcoming weeks. There are real treasures to be found in estate sales, and generally for a fraction of the price that you’d pay for the same item from a big box store. Some estate sales I’ve found have had rare or vintage collectibles, pieces of art, and handmade furniture that are just nearly impossible to find now. Even if your place is already furnished, estate sales are a fun activity for a weekend, as  you may just stumble upon something that captures your heart.

Similarly, garage sales can often have items that you need for your apartment. You can find garage sales for the upcoming week on Craigslist, online, or simply driving around town. During the summer, you can always find signs posted about garage sales within the neighborhood. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend purchasing furniture from garage sales if the couch, table, etc. has been outside exposed to the elements for a while.  If it’s been kept in the garage or house go for it.

There is a fourth option available for people open to it, and that is thrift or consignment shops. In my new town, there is this great discount furniture place with all used furniture like couches, wardrobes, dressers, bed frames – anything you could think of, they have it. Personally, I hesitate with this sort of option just because 1) you never know where the furniture came from and 2) the furniture is often all stored together in a large warehouse where people can amble around, browsing the pieces. With the possibility of bedbugs, I hesitate with purchasing furniture from these environments because the bugs can live up to a year with no food & easily hide in couch cushions and under tables. If you’re willing to take the chance, or bedbugs aren’t a problem in your area, by all means purchase from consignment – you’ll save a ton of cash! But for those who have their doubts, I’d stick to the prior suggestions or at least avoid any upholstered pieces of furniture.

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Author My First Apartment
Amanda S

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Amanda Szymanski is a 2015 graduate from High Point University in North Carolina, from where she earned a BS in psychology. She loves all things related to scientific research, art, and mindfulness. Currently, she is employed as a research assistant working on a study investigating Alzheimer's Disease. When Amanda is not working on research, she enjoys painting with watercolors, hiking, and reading.

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  1. Avatar John Donovan

    You don’t need to spend a lot of money to buy high quality furniture! There are some great places to find gently used furniture. One of the best is to use Craigslist – sometimes people even give away their old furniture for free!

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