So, you’ve done it! You’ve decided to serve with City Year, so it’s time to move out of that college dorm or home and into your first apartment. Finding the right apartment can be a difficult proposition, but once you do you’ll need to get that place looking good for your housewarming party. Because you’ll be living on a stipend, it might be a good idea to hold off on that ottoman from West Elm. Instead, check out some of these cheaper ways to furnish your apartment.
Ask the previous tenants if there is anything they want to leave.
Moving is always a difficult and arduous process. Often people have trouble moving large items like couches, bed frames and dressers. They might be more inclined to leave those items in the apartment, rather than pay for a truck to move them. When signing your lease, ask your realtor or landlord if you could get the contact information of the residents who are moving out. Chat with them and see if you could use anything they want to leave behind.
Ask family and friends if they have anything lying around in storage or an attic.
Seriously, some people never throw things out. A perfectly good couch could be sitting in your Uncle Leo’s basement. See if anyone you know is willing to part with extra furniture or kitchen supplies. Offer to help around their house with a few chores and in return you may get some crucial pieces for your home!
DIY projects that upcycle or find new uses for old things.
Pinterest is a home designer’s paradise. You should be able to browse this platform for some amazing design and cost-saving boards. There’s also a plethora of life hacks and DIY projects for you to pull off. Have some old fence and nails? Boom! Now you have a beautiful wine rack that will impress your guests.
Don’t forget to explore yard sales, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Check all three of these before you even think of buying your first piece of furniture. People give things away for free or for a fraction of what they paid for it. Most will ask you to come pick it up, so if you have access to a truck you might be able to furnish an entire room just with free things you take off people.
Pro tip: If you live near any colleges, borrow a friend’s truck and drive around campus and adjacent student-saturated neighborhoods during move-out season (generally in May, when most universities end their spring semester and hold commencement). Chances are, you will find a treasure trove of furniture items tossed out onto the sidewalk for someone just like you to adopt and give a second life.
Shopping as a last resort
If all else fails, and you’re still sitting on the floor to watch TV, you may have to actually go shopping at a furniture store. Ikea is definitely one of the go-tos when you want to save a penny. Most of their items are significantly cheaper than the alternatives. Be sure to sign up for their loyalty program (it’s free!), and they often have significant discounts and sales.
Hopefully this guide helps you feel comfortable in your home while serving!
Check out our stipend resources for more tips on how to maximize your City Year stipend.