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How to Furnish an Apartment on a Budget

February 5, 2019

Moving to a new apartment can be pricey - on top of rent, you have added moving costs, utilities, deposits, and other expenses. One thing you can always save on is furniture and decor. If you move often or simply want to be budget-conscious that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice living in a comfy and well-decorated home. If you want to save money but aren’t sure how to furnish an apartment on a budget, check out our tips below.

1. Get Thrifty.

If you like high-end quality items but aren’t ready to spend a fortune on a table set for your new place, go for used furniture. Whether you enjoy going to brick and mortar stores or prefer the convenience of online shopping, there are a lot of thrifty options for you.

Thrift stores. If you are one of those people that needs to touch an item before purchasing it, check out your local second-hand stores, such as Habitat for Humanity ReStores. They receive donations of furniture, appliances, decor and building materials from individuals and businesses in their area of service. Then they resell them to the public at a deep discount. You can often find rare designer pieces at their stores sold for a fraction of the price.

Craigslist. One of the largest online marketplace for local sellers and buyers, Craigslist has been a go-to website for Americans trying to buy or sell used furniture for the past 23 years. Free coffee tables, rare handmade pieces and collectibles at a fraction of the cost - you can find it all on this website. Just make sure to be thorough and careful to avoid potential scammers.

Mobile apps. If you prefer to shop online, check out OfferUp or LetGo. They are mobile alternatives to Craigslist that allow you to buy and sell locally at a click of a button. And the best part about them is that they verify buyers and sellers using their driver's licenses. Other great places to search for affordable or free furniture are Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.

Garage sales. Don't underestimate good old garage and yard sales. If you don't want to drive around your neighborhood looking for sales, register on the Nextdoor app. You can sign up to receive notifications about events in your area. Neighbors tend to post their garage sales here.

Friends and family. You can always ask friends and family if they have old furniture they’d be willing to part with. You’d be surprised how many people keep furniture they don’t want because it’s too much of a hassle to get rid of it.

2. Explore Furniture Outlets.

Did you know that Pottery Barn has outlets where you purchase their high-end pieces of furniture at a discount? Bed frames, living room furniture, dining room sets - they sell it all. Some items have some insignificant damage like dents and scratches, the other pieces are brand new overstock items. It might not be the cheapest option, but you can definitely find decent deals on high-quality kitchen sets, dining tables, and living room furniture that would otherwise be pricey.

3. Check Out Big-Box Stores and Online Marketplaces.

Target. Looking for designer, budget-friendly furniture? Check out Target. If you are a student on a tight budget, you can find simple futons and TV stands under $50 and dressers under $20. If you are willing to spend a bit more, look into Target’s designer collaborations for its in-house brands. We all know how one can walk into a Target store and leave hours later with a bunch of awesome, and often unplanned, purchases. There is an actual term for it - “Target effect”. If you don’t want to fall victim to the Target effect, check out their online store! Free shipping is available on all orders over $35.

IKEA. One can’t write an article on affordable furniture and decor without mentioning IKEA. The Swedish retailer is a one-stop shop for all things home. Whether you are looking for inexpensive shower curtains, throw pillows, coffee tables or bedroom sets, there is a high chance you’ll find it all in your local IKEA store.

Wayfair. If you are trying to furnish your first apartment, Wayfair might be the place to go. On top of offering a wide range of styles and types of furniture, the website also has a curated collection of design ideas for every room in your house. All items on the photos are tagged. So if you like the design, you can buy all furniture directly on their website.

Walmart. Love that kitchen table on Wayfair? Make sure to also look it up on Walmart's website. Both companies oftentimes sell the same items, but Walmart tends to offer better prices.

4. Rent Your Furniture.

If you are a traveling nurse or are on a short-term assignment in a new city, it doesn’t make sense to buy new furniture. Instead, get in contact with one of the three largest rental furniture companies - Feather, Cort or Brook. Cort, for example, is perfect for students and military families as it offers 3-room packages at $99/month. If you are renting a piece of furniture from Feather and love it, you can buy it from them after 12 months. And Brook has super helpful sales associates that will help you plan layout of your apartment like an interior designer would do. Looking for more information? Check out our article on furniture rentals.

Have additional tips and tricks on how to furnish an apartment on a budget? Let us in on your wisdom by tagging @ApartmentList on Twitter or Instagram.

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Sania is a content manager and contributing author at Apartment List. Sania previously worked in marketing at Habitat for Humanity and Samsung Electronics. Read More
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