Furnish Your Apartment Using Craigslist

by Mike on February 8, 2012

mattress on car roof

If you are just starting out, it can be expensive to furnish your first apartment. When I moved to graduate school and lived on my own for the first time, I spent about $500 furnishing my apartment, and that included having many pieces my mom was generous enough to give me from her home.

If you are a recent college grad just starting out, don’t waste your money on new furniture. Instead, consider furnishing your apartment with items you can buy on Craigslist.

Craigslist has gotten a bad name in recent years, but in between all of the bogus “make money” ads, the free car insurance quotes online ads, and the affiliate marketers who push their survey sites, there are real ads, by real people. And I’ve gotten some great deals over the years…

My husband and I had a portable dishwasher that we sold when we moved into an apartment with a built-in dishwasher. We bought the dishwasher for $400 three years ago, and we sold it to a middle-aged couple for $150. The couple we sold it to bought their last portable dishwasher in the late 1980s, and it had just stopped working after nearly 23 years of use. The husband told me that they make it a policy to try to buy all of their household furniture and appliances on Craigslist.

Benefits of Furnishing Your Place Using Craigslist

-Just like new car owners take a hit to depreciation when they drive the car off the lot, so too is it with appliances and other household furniture. We had our dishwasher for 3 years, and basically paid $250 for the privilege of using it; the couple who bought it paid just $150, and they will have it until it dies. Their out of pocket cost is much lower than ours because they let us take the depreciation hit.

-The Craigslist market is so large, you will be able to find what you need if you are patient. When we were looking for a few household items on Craigslist, I saw people selling their furniture in sets at rock bottom prices because they just wanted to be rid of it because they were moving. If you are patient and willing to perhaps wait a few weeks, you should be able to find the style and quality of furniture you would like to buy.

-Have a nicely furnished home for a fraction of the cost to buy new. Good couches can be expensive. Even if you find a deal, you are looking at $600, though they can run upwards of $1,200. If instead you buy a couch off Craigslist for $200, you have saved yourself $400 to $1,000. Let’s be honest—many people starting out buy their new furniture on credit. Not only have you saved yourself a great deal of money by buying on Craigslist, but you have saved yourself months, perhaps years, of interest on your credit card by not spending more than you can afford.

Craigslist is such a large marketplace now that it is possible to furnish your entire apartment with items you find on Craigslist. If you are just starting out, don’t go into debt to buy furniture. Instead take advantage of a great market that offers quality furniture at a steep discount.

Have you bought furniture off Craigslist? What was your experience?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronica December 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

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2 Jenny @ Coffee Tables May 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

There’s never ending for good choices at craigslists. I simply love getting my stuff from there. They have everything you want and need actually.

Really, it saves you ample time and hassle. Try it and you will see.

3 Joan February 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I LOVE Craigslist! Plus, garage sales and estate sales. Right now I’m banned from them (per hubby) until I sell some of my “extras”. I have tables, couches, lamps, home decor that I have decorated our house with. In fact, a lot of what I get still has the tags on it! I just wish years ago I would have gone this route instead of buying new. Now I blog about getting stuff for free or almost free. Thanks for the great post!

4 Amanda L Grossman February 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Craigslist can be such a great resource! We sold our car on it, and purchased reading chairs for our library, a beautiful (and practically new) chaise for our bedroom, and many other treasures.

5 Tackling Our Debt February 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I have to agree that there are some great deals out there, especially for someone just starting out. Yesterday I was scanning ads and came across one where the owner was having a moving sale. He needs to sell everything by the end of February. Some of his household items had very low prices but he was also giving a few things away for free. For example he had two 20 inch TVs that he was giving away for free. Even if they only worked for 6 months to a year, that would be great.

6 John | Married (with Debt) February 9, 2012 at 9:45 am

Furnishings and furniture are one thing, but if you are someone who tries to keep a dishwasher for 25 years, why wouldn’t you buy it new? I think there is a true difference between frugality and just plain being cheap.

That being said, I am a thrift store addict and enjoy selling on Craigslist from time to time. I’d certainly buy furniture there, but probably not appliances.

7 Matt February 9, 2012 at 6:03 am

I have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist. Love it for car buying and selling. Hate it because my wife is constantly finding deals on there that she thinks she needs! To her credit, it has saved us a great deal of money. In one instance, we found a pair of kids left-handed golf clubs. We couldn’t find these at any stores without having to special order them.

8 Andi @MealPlanRescue February 9, 2012 at 12:47 am

We’ve been slowly furnishing our home with craigslist. I’m picky and I decide the maximum I want to pay, and look for the items I want. So far, I bought a $300 canopy bed I had my eye on for $50 plus paint to refinish it. I purchased a $200 dining table for $100. All were nearly new or in excellent condition. I’m a craigslist animal.

9 101 Centavos February 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Craiglist, auctions and garage sales are really the best frugal choices for young people just starting out.

10 Sarah @Savvy Young Something February 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I’ve had great success furnishing a rental unit on craigslist, both in college and in my early career life right now. Almost every piece of furniture I buy is used and redone, and more of it has come from craigslist than Goodwill. Here’s a few of my blog posts where I talk about my strategy, and where you can see some of my successes!

An entire bedroom furnished from craigslist finds (minus mattress): http://savvyyoungsomething.blogspot.com/2010/10/bedroom-on-budget-college-years.html
A Pottery Barn bed for $150: http://savvyyoungsomething.blogspot.com/2010/11/sarah-big-girl-grownup-bed.html

Some recent projects from craigslist:

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