Moving season is almost over. But if you’re one of the many people moving into a new home right now, it might feel like the furniture-buying season has just begun. And that can be expensive.
After paying rent, a security deposit, or mortgage down payment — plus any costs associated with moving — furniture can come as an afterthought, leaving a less-than-ideal budget for items that make your home feel like home. .
Even with lower-cost items from budget retailers like Amazon and Target, furnishing an entire space becomes costly. And if you want high-end items, a high-end sofa or bedroom set can cost you several thousand dollars.
To save on furniture, turn to your community platforms and peer-to-peer resale to find quality used pieces, but also space your purchases strategically.
FIRST, SEE WHAT YOU CAN GET FOR FREE
Before venturing into the maze of Ikea or shopping online, see what your local community has to offer. Ask people you know if they’re getting rid of anything.
“Your friends and family may be moving too,” says Henna Noor, a full-time student at the University of California, Irvine. Noor recently moved into his first apartment with a furniture budget under $700 and got a free couch from his girlfriend’s parents. “It might be beneficial for them to get rid of an item without having to pay to move it or try to sell it before leaving.”
Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors or make a request on social media; the people in your life will likely be happy to help you navigate this exciting life change. Many neighborhoods also have “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups you can join to donate and receive household items. However, you will likely need to find a way to transport the items, possibly by renting or borrowing a truck, or asking a friend to help you.
TRY PEER-TO-PEER PLATFORMS
Peer-to-peer resale platforms like OfferUp, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace offer thousands of used items. You may be able to find hidden gems within 5 miles of your new location.
“There are limited options at a store like Ikea,” says Miranda Escobar, marketing manager for a New York tech start-up, who moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn in April. “A peer market opens you up to different and unexpected styles of furniture.”
Escobar’s benchmark is Facebook Marketplace, where she searches for a single keyword like “dresser,” then narrows the results by color, material, price, and location. For example, she can search for wooden items under $50 within a 3 km radius of her new address.
However, some locales have more lists than others and sorting the results can take a long time. Not all items have a sale price either; some sellers are more driven by profit than by disposing of old items.
Noor checked the OfferUp app daily for a week before his move, keeping an eye out for new ads from users who needed to get rid of items quickly.
TRADE WITH RESPECT
If you’re shopping at peer-to-peer markets, garage sales, or estate sales, take the opportunity to negotiate. Note that the seller often tries to get rid of the item, but also try to offer a price within a reasonable range – lowballing may not get you an answer.
“I always compare with similar items on the market,” says Escobar. If it’s a branded part or a vintage part, research what it would cost to buy a new part or what other dealers are offering it for. Knowing the approximate value of the item you want can help you negotiate more confidently with a seller and avoid listings with unreasonable prices.
SPACE OUT EXPENSES
“Of course, you want your new place to feel like home immediately,” Escobar says. “But it’s better to be patient and wait for parts at the right prices.”
Waiting for lower priority items can ensure you’re ready to nab rock-bottom parts from users facing rolling deadlines; they are likely to take the best offer available.
Patience also pays off when shopping at retail: off-season furniture is reduced in winter and summer to make room for new items arriving in spring and fall, and most stores offer deep discounts during holidays.
like Black Friday and Labor Day. At thrift stores, furniture stock can change regularly, and waiting for a bargain on a used piece could save you more than buying it new.
If you need something immediately, like a table for example, try to find an inexpensive placeholder to use for the time being, like a low-cost folding table. You can always upgrade later when you have the funds.