Whether you're a student who's just moving into their first apartment, a young professional relocating on a budget, or someone who just wants to give their place a facelift without breaking the bank, finding affordable furniture can be a challenge. A lot of the couches, dining tables and bedroom sets you'll find today are branded, unreasonably expensive or have insane shipping costs, but there's good news: It's not impossible to furnish your apartment on a budget. Start with these five steps and you'll be on your way to a stylish, fully-furnished home in no time.
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#1 Go secondhand
Secondhand is always better. It's cheaper, it doesn't promote consumerism and it'll give your apartment a warm and homey feel. Lots of used furniture can be found in vintage stores, but the majority of what you're looking for will likely be found online. Try local classified websites like Craigslist in the U.S., Kijiji in Canada and Gumtree in Australia. Chances are, you'll find a handful of neighbors looking to get rid of their bed frames, coffee tables and decorative items.
#2 Shop online
The strategy for furniture shopping used to be try before you buy, but with a growing number of online retailers, that's no longer the case—especially when their prices are lower than their in-store competitors. Shopping online with all-encompassing homeware companies like Wayfair and IKEA will give you a better chance of finding everything you need in one place. Many stores also give you a discount on shopping or waive your shipping if you buy multiple items at the same time.
#3 Ask friends and family
If you don't ask, you won't receive. Talk to your family and friends and see if anyone is planning on getting rid of any of their furniture soon. If it's in good condition, take it! If your family and friends aren't nearby, put up an ad in your new building to see if anyone is moving out soon. Apartment complexes often see at least one person move out each month and chances are they'll want to get rid of a few things before they do. If no one is moving out in your building, keep an eye out for garage sales nearby.
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#4 Keep it simple
The trick to getting cheap furniture is keeping your taste simple. The majority of people looking for a bed, dresser, coffee table, etc. are looking for a neutral color. This means that most furniture you'll find is made either white, black, brown or tan. If you're looking for a navy velvet couch, you'll likely pay triple compared to what you would pay for a plain white one. Sure, it may not be as eye-catching but unique pieces generally aren't in demand, therefore supply is low and the price tag is high. Keep it simple and jazz up your apartment with small pieces like pillows and lamps instead.
#5 Check the shipping costs
Even if you think you've found a great deal online, check the shipping costs before you buy. Some retailers will charge $100 or more for the convenience of having your furniture shipped to your front door. To avoid tear-inducing shipping costs, opt for in-store pick-up instead. If you have a car large enough to transport your piece, you'll save tons of money. If not, check your local U-Haul or moving truck company for rates. They'll often rent vans for as low as $19.99 a day.