Author Topic: Advice on where/how to cheaply furnish house in US (need almost everything!)  (Read 2645 times)

AshStash

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The details are still be sorted out but I will be moving within probably 4-6 weeks to start a new job (HOORAY!!!!!!). I will get relocation assistance to cover moving costs--I'm currently staying with my parents and they have the space to temporarily store items, so I can start stocking up now. I'd previously been living abroad in furnished apartments and so now in the US, I am starting over from (almost) scratch. What I do have is either very limited in quantity (some decorative storage canisters for the kitchen that I inherited) or not very practical (full set of china and some silver trays, also inherited).

The question: what's the best way to save money buying the basics--furniture (bed, sofa, bookshelves, table & chairs, etc), bedding & towels, kitchen supplies, and whatever else I'm forgetting for now. My normal strategy when I need something is to stalk craigslist, online deals, in store sales, etc, but I have a lot of items to purchase in a fairly short amount of time. Realistically, I can't spend the time to hunt everything down on craigslist. I'm in Nashville and the nearest IKEA is ~200 miles away, for reference. I anticipate being really busy once I start this job, so I'd like to have my apartment pretty well stocked before I start.

Mustachians, what stores do you go to, what coupons do you use, what online deals are out there right now for home goods? I prefer to get items that will last vs. items that are inexpensive up front but need replacing quickly. It's a bit overwhelming when I think about how much I need to do before I start work!

lthenderson

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The best way to get cheap (many times quality) furniture fast is to go to auctions and garage sales where you live now until you move. You will find more quality stuff at auctions but you will have to pay a little more to outbid people. However, I've still found it is a fraction of the price of buying new and many times better quality. Then just have it moved to your new location.

honeybbq

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Given your desires and constraints (you want everything ASAP, not willing to wait), I'd honestly rent a truck and go to IKEA and load up and call it good.

gardeningandgreen

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For a mattress Amazon has some amazing deals on memory foam mattresses. Frugalwoods just had a post about it and Ive had my mattress from Amazon for about 4 years now. You also get the benefit of having it really easy to move if you keep it in the box all packaged up!

former player

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Don't overestimate what you need in order to get started.  Get the basics, then add to them over time.

I mean, you could move into a house with just your camping gear and do fine for a while.  At some point you will want, probably in this order: a bed and bedding, a table and 2 upright chairs (table for eating and working, 2 chairs because 1 looks sad), a sofa or armchair, 2 plates, 2 sets of cutlery, 2 mugs, 2 glasses, two saucepans, some cooking implements (wooden spoon, spatula), some towels and some cleaning implements (hoover/broom, dustcloths, washcloths, toilet brush).

Start by asking family and friends for cast-offs.  After that, I second the advice to buy second hand, although I would always want a new mattress (or at least one that is like new and that I thoroughly knew the origins of).

Congratulations on the new job, and good luck.


Aggie1999

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As previous poster said, why do you think you need a stocked apartment at move in time. IMO you need something to sleep on, something to sit on and some cheap things to eat on. Then start hitting estate sales, garage sales, etc. When I bought my first house I went straight to the furniture store and dropped over $2k. Very dumb on my part.

AshStash

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Some good advice in here (and may end up doing a lot of IKEA shopping in the end). Thank you! I'll be hitting up a lot of garage/estate sales in the next couple of weeks.

This is the 3rd time in my adult life (due to big transatlantic moves w/no relocation packages) that I've ended up having to completely start over in terms of home items, so I know what I need/want to get to get started. Luckily many years of tiny European apartments has given me a pretty minimalist outlook on what I consider the essentials. I'm pretty excited that I'm going to have room for a crockpot now--living the dream! But it's not on the essentials list and I'll wait for a good craigslist/garage sale/store coupon deal to get one. 

Any tips for finding good deals on items like pillows and towels? Like a mattress (thanks for the Amazon advice! will take a look), those are items that I want to buy new.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2017, 04:33:28 PM by AshStash »

Trifele

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We just moved cross country last year, and tried to bring as little as possible with us.  We arrived with no mattresses, and slept on camping pads/aerobeds for a while.  We took our time finding the furniture we wanted, stalking Craigslist, Habitat ReStore, etc.   We ended up buying new mattresses from Sears.  (Decent prices, good brands, no BS in the sales process).

For sheets and towels, I like TJMaxx. . . they have great quality stuff from department store close-outs, and reasonable prices.   

ChasingStache

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I have traveled a fair amount in my work and often have had to provide my own temporary housing/furnishings due to availability in some of the locations. It is actually pretty amazing how much I miss the simplicity of those places I lived in with nothing but the basics:
  • Air mattress with topper
  • Storage container flipped over for a night table
  • Linens and towels
  • Good budget pots/pans/utensils/plates either new or from Goodwill. (Go to the ones in the really nice areas of town and you will be shocked at what people give away!)
  • A sack chair or two
  • Another rubbermaid storage containger for a dining room/coffee/end table
  • And, at the time, my TV, surround sound, and bluray player

It was pretty awesome. You really don't need much to start. I lived like that for almost 2 years before I started piecing "real" furnishings into my life. I was working 80+hr weeks, but once I had time, it was simple enough to scour CL and the likes for some reasonable stuff.

Just typing that makes me want to get back to that simplicity!

Good luck!

Noodle

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Congrats on the new job!

Fellow posters are right that the absolute cheapest way to furnish would be to move with very little and then gradually buy. However, I am one of those people who is not happy if home is not comfortable, and I do not enjoy living in a transitional state. So I sympathize with the need to get set up.

Have you found your apartment yet? Layout would affect what you need to furnish it (ie, if there is built-in storage you don't need shelving.

In your shoes, I would purchase the mattress new and look around for as much as possible second hand...I think the woman who writes the Frugal Girl blog bought a mattress online and was very happy with it.

1. Parents...is there anything they want to get rid of?
2. Networking...if your parents have a social network, ask them to put the word out that you need to furnish a new place and ask if friends have anything to hand down. You could also use a neighborhood facebook page. People will often have things that they are reluctant to toss or give to charity, but are delighted to rehome. Most of my first apartment came this way. If you offer to take things to the Goodwill if you find they "don't fit" in your new place, people will probably be delighted.
3. Second-hand--it's probably the wrong time of year for yard sales, but you might be able to find estate or white elephant sales, or of course thrift shops. I like this option in your circumstances because then when you are ready to change out for something that fits your space better, you can donate the first item back to a thrift shop with a clear conscience. You can always "adjust" things that aren't to your taste. My second-hand couch is hideous but comfortable...I have a nice slipcover to go over it.
4. Buy new--wait until the very end and then buy whatever you still need. I actually like Target, especially for furniture, because you can get it shipped to you (it's usually free over a certain dollar amount) but then there is somewhere local to return it so you don't have to go to the bother of shipping if it doesn't work out. I really like www.thesweethome.com to look up things I am considering buying.


marion10

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Around here the furniture rental stores sell off their used furniture- that might be an idea.

redbird

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For sheets and towels, I like TJMaxx. . . they have great quality stuff from department store close-outs, and reasonable prices.

Agreed. Kohls, Marshalls, Ross, and Burlington Coat Factory are similar to TJMaxx too, in that they are brand new items but are close-outs that they got from other stores. Because they're close-outs, the stock changes all the time, so if you have more than one of these kinds of stores near you, you may want to check more than one if you don't like the selection at a particular one.

You can get yourself kitchen supplies at these types of stores usually too.

aperture

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Villanelle

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Do you happen to live anywhere near a senior living community?  My parents live in one, and there are estate sales pretty much every weekend.  The best deals are on the privately run garage sales, but even the ones run by large estate sale companies are decent, and if you show up with a truck, cash, and prepared to buy multiple items, you can do quite well. 

Also, have your parents spread the word.  When I moved out of my parents home, I was gifted several items from friends and neighbors.  It was stuff they'd been wanting to get rid of and never got around to. 

TJ Maxx, Home Goods, etc. have okay prices on linens.  If you aren't picky about color and pattern, their clearance stuff can be great deals. 

PJ

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I rented my basement apartment to a lady who was used to spending most of the year in their condo in Florida, when her husband had to move into a nursing home back in Toronto.

She had nothing here, because it was all in Florida.

I went to the largest thrift store near me, and got almost everything for her kitchen in one trip.  Full set of 4 plates (Lg and Sm) plus bowls.  4 matching drinking glasses.  4 plain white mugs, not identical, but very similar.  A teapot, and a trivet.  Mixing bowls and pyrex and measuring cups.  Cutlery, and a cutlery tray.  Didn't find any good pots, but I did get some baking pans.

On the same trip, I bought sheets, blankets, throw pillows for the couch, towels in very good condition and a bathmat.

Oh, and some lovely artwork for the walls, and a couple of ceramic birds for the fireplace mantel.

I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but the point is that a lot of the small things can be bought in one fell swoop if you have a decent thrift store around.  And a lot of it is nice - I've actually stored away some of it now that she moved out to live with her son, because I liked it enough to think I might use it some day.

llorona

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Can you join NextDoor for your new neighborhood? My neighbors are always giving away free furniture and household items.

MoonLiteNite

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My full house, excluding my ikea chair is 95% free. From Craigslist, dumpster(ish) diving, bartering, and finding stuff on the side of the road.

- Kitchen table - found on side of road during bulk trash collection
- Kitchen chairs and bar stools - saw them in the driveway from a customer who i had a delivery too as a pizza driver. She even helped me load them into my car as a tip :)
- Nic-nac shelf - craigslist, owner was leaving town and just wanted it gone! I think retail was like 600$. It is NICEEEEE
- Work desk -  build it with my dad when i was a teen.
- Main computer desk - found in front of someone's house with a  "free sign" on it
- washer and dryer - picked up a temp roommate. We made a deal for their last month they would buy and install both units instead of paying rent. I think his family has a discount or something with a company.
- Toaster, microwave oven and microwave - all for free from craigslist
- Dehydrator - roommate bought one, i knocked off 20$ off his rent for one month if i could borrow it :)
- Garage shelves - from childhood, dumper diving, just nailing scrap pieces of wood together
- bed frame - donated by a family member
- Couch - i actually dont have a couch :/ never wanted to pick one up and then clean it...

And the list can go on and on and on.

MrsWolfeRN

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I would wait until after the move, or at least until you see the layout of your new space. I had movers provided by my job once and ended up bringing a lot of stuff and then upgrading or getting rid of it after the move anyway. I would have gotten rid of a lot if I had to move it myself.

Agree with the mattress from Amazon idea, but just have it shipped to the new place after you move. You might decide a different size would work better.

I like antique and consignment shops for furniture: much better quality than the big box stores but cheaper than buying new from a furniture store.

Costco is good for towels, rugs, bedding, kitchen items etc. if you want to buy new. They also sometimes have good quality furniture for a reasonable price, but not all the time.

 You can also get good deals on linens/bedding at Kohls if you have their credit card and wait for the right promotions, but their kitchen stuff is pricey.  TJMaxx has good prices on the kitchen stuff, but their towels are pricey. Go figure.

Hip2save is a good site for figuring out which coupons to use.

hazelnut

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I bought a sofa and a dining set from wayfair.com  - the great thing is that they have free shipping, so it comes right to your door. The bad thing is you have to assemble it (though that's true of IKEA as well). There is a wide variety of price levels - my dining set was very cheap, and the quality definitely reflects that, but the sofa was very reasonably priced and has held up great. I would assume that the more expensive items are better quality.

lhamo

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I got a great set of 6 fluffy white bath towels from Costco when they were on sale for $18.99 -- I think the standard price is $21.99, which is still pretty good for six towels.   

Ikea has some really good kitchenware.   I also like their down pillows.   I got much of our furniture from Ikea when we moved back to the US and had it delivered/assembled.  Because I was dealing with post-surgical complications and also only had a sedan, so doing stuff on CL was not feasible and we needed things like a couch and dining table and beds.   But if I hadn't had those challenges, I would have just hung out on CL and picked things up piece by piece.   You can typically get Ikea stuff off CL for 50% of retail price, and it is already assembled.

Join your local Buy Nothing and Nextdoor groups as soon as you have an address.

If you  have a Goodwill outlet store nearby, that is a great place to snag things like clothes hangers, waste paper baskets, kitchen organizers and other gadgets, etc.   They sell stuff by the pound.  It can be hit and miss, but I got a lot of good stuff there cheap when I was first looking and had a longer list.


HipGnosis

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Can you join NextDoor for your new neighborhood? My neighbors are always giving away free furniture and household items.
Join NextDoor for where you are too. 

Also Freecycle(.com)

Searchtempest(.com) makes searching craigslist much easier.

AshStash

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Thanks everyone! This weekend has been more dedicated to test driving cars (leaning towards the forum-favorite Mazda 3) than I'd originally planned, but there are several promising estate sales in my area coming up that I'm planning to check out. Plus a trip to the stores mentioned to start pricing sheets, towels, etc this coming week. I'd never heard of NextDoor before but I'm getting signed up now.