Here’s some advice from…well…someone who moves all too often…on how to furnish your first place with second-hand furniture!
Moving to your first place is so intimidating especially when you have no furniture except for that gaudy dresser that’s been sitting in your parents’ basement for years (don’t judge, we all have one…or 4…).
When I first moved off campus during undergrad, I was lucky to have found a furnished apartment that I could afford on my own. Many unfortunate situations ensued while I was living in that apartment; a global pandemic, a stalker-ish landlord, and a crazy work and school schedule to name a few.
But… I learned so much while living there. You never really know what you’re capable of until you learn to make 30+ different recipes using only Cheerios and rice.
Because of the aforementioned unfortunate situations, I moved back home after only a year of living in that apartment. But as many stubborn, independence-driven young adults do, I refused to move back home and instead rented an apartment 2.3 miles up the road… (We all have financial regrets…right?)
Even though this apartment was technically the second apartment I had ever lived in, it was the first place I ever furnished.
At that point in my life, I was only working part-time and had no money. See future 30+ unfit-for-human consumption Cheerios and rice recipes article.
My apartment at that time was filled with second-hand furniture, and it was by no means fit for royalty, but it was practical and it fit my needs at the time. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I could’ve had nice, shiny furniture filling my new place. It just wasn’t in the cards for me at that time and that’s okay!
So, if you’re finding yourself in a similar situation – and care more about having places to sit and something to put your clothes in than design trends and aesthetically pleasing spaces – here are some ways you can furnish your first place with second-hand furniture!
Visit Thrift Stores
Local church/community thrift stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and regional second-hand stores are AMAZING for finding furniture for cheap. A lot of the time, pieces of furniture from these places don’t need much repairing and are fully functional.
A word of advice: talk to the people who work at these places and ask to see their back stock! More often than not they have more items that they can’t fit on display but are willing to sell!
Look on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay
The best thing I’ve found from shopping on these platforms is that you are buying from people and you can explain your situation (that you are buying furniture for your first place on a budget) and negotiate prices.
Don’t get me wrong, some people on there are…weird…
Please remember to never give out personal information and always have someone with you when you pick things up. But above all else, trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, you really don’t need that $15 desk anyway.
Yard Sales/Free Stuff
A friend of mine told me once to “never be too prideful that you stop looking at the free furniture on the side of the road.” And, you know what, that advice has never forsaken me.
The side of the road is so plentiful with dishes, couches, and dressers; seriously… you’d be shocked by the number of dressers I’ve gotten for free.
Yard sales are especially useful if you are moving in the spring and summer months, so keep an eye out!
And when in doubt, stop and see! You’re certainly not obligated to take it if you stop to look, but… it is especially helpful if you have a friend with a truck on speed dial for those occasions where you do want to take the roadside junk home with you.
(Darn our fuel-efficient but eerily small sedans!)
Local Community Pages
I’d recommend you are a part of your local community pages and sites even if you aren’t moving into your first place, but from first-hand experience, they’re especially helpful when looking for second-hand furniture.
I am a part of many town/city/county Facebook groups and online community websites. In Vermont, we have something called Front Porch Forum; it’s kind of like an online community bulletin board. I recommend that you look for a similar platform in your state or local area!
When I moved, I made a post on FPF in search of cheap furniture. I made a list of the specific things I needed (a couch, bed frame, etc.) and within a day so many helpful community members reached out offering furniture they had lying around!
If you only take one thing away from reading this article, I cannot recommend doing this enough! Not only did I get what I needed, but I also made connections with people in my community that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
At the end of the day, try and make furnishing your first place fun! It’s a wonderful time in your life! Don’t stress about not having the best or newest things. Slowly but surely your spaces will be filled with newer things, just not at first AND THAT’S OKAY!
Someday your old second-hand furniture may end up in someone else’s first place. How eco-friendly of you! 😉
You might also like:
Kayden Hamlin is a full-time preschool teacher and graduate student. She is passionate about saving money, self-care and mindfulness, and child development! When not in a classroom, you’d most likely find her reading with a cup of tea in hand or knitting projects for her family and friends.