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How to furnish your apartment for less than $1500

So, you just moved into a new place. Maybe you’ve just moved out for the first time. And now it’s time to think of furniture.

With your pricey bond paid and your first few weeks of rent money fronted, it’s easy to think the most expensive part of moving out is over. It’s not. Furniture is the real kicker.

When I moved out back in 2015, I ended up spending about $6,000 on the expenses that came with moving out. With no family able to help with costs or give me a few old pieces of furniture from the garage, I had no choice but to start from scratch. At the age of 24, this cleaned out most of the savings that I’d spent years and years scrounging together. I spent a lot but I also learnt a lot. And I’ve decided to pass on my learnings in the hope that others might be able to furnish their places for less.

What you definitely need

Here’s a list of all the essential items you will need for your apartment. We've included a few examples of affordable options that come in at under $1,500. You certainly don't need to buy everything new, but if you're going to, here's how you can do it on a budget.

table and chairs fantastic furniture - edited

Dining room table and chairs

Suggested budget: $350

Zoe 5 piece dining set: $249

blue futon fantastic furniture - edited

Couch

Suggested budget $450

Bolt futon: $259

entertainment unit fantastic furniture - edited

Entertainment unit

Suggested budget: $100

Como entertainment unit: $99

coffee table fantastic furniture - edited

Coffee table

Suggested budget: $100

Hayman coffee table: $99

dark bed fantastic furniture - edited

Bed frame

Suggested budget: $300

Bondi queen bed: $199

side table fantastic furniture - edited

Side table

Suggested budget: $50

Alpine 1 door bedside table: $28

como drawers fantastic furniture dark - edited

Storage unit

Suggested budget: $150

Como 6 drawer tall boy: $199

Total budget: $1,500

Total spent: $1,132


Optional items

Adding one of these optional extras will still see you spend under the $1,500 mark and will help you make you living space look fuller.

Bookshelf – to fill up a sparse living room and add storage space: $79

Lounge side table – to store a lamp and maybe some books: $69

Console table – doubles as a desk or storage spot for photo frames: $299

Lynx Large Wide Bookcase
Fantastic Furniture
Hayman Side Table
Fantastic Furniture
Vogue Hall Table
Fantastic Furniture

Package deals

Package deals are a smart choice for those who need to start from scratch. Plus, when you buy a package it means that all your furniture matches. Sometimes when you're picking individual pieces on a budget matching furniture isn't always an option. Here are two packages that will bring you in under the $1,500 mark.

Toto living package

Roxanne bedroom package

Toto Living Package
Fantastic Furniture
Roxanne Double Bedroom Package
Fantastic Furniture

Top tips for furnishing your place on a budget

I learnt these the hard way so you don't have to!

Buy second-hand:

Second-hand means you can furnish your whole place for a fraction of the cost. Most people are fine with buying second-hand furniture on Gumtree and eBay and for those of you who aren’t, know that more than 20% of the listed items on those sites are brand new! Trust us, we asked them.

But remember that second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper:

Make sure you know the general price range to expect before buying second-hand. A lot of pre-owned items are considered vintage or antique which puts the price up. Check out sites like Fantastic Furniture or IKEA so you know what is a good price and what isn’t

Shop around and compare on eBay:

Found something you like? Enter the product name into eBay, Gumtree and even Facebook Sell/Buy communities. Someone may have bought the same thing and is now selling it. Also, drop the product name into Google and see if there’s another store selling for less.

Measure everything:

Many first apartments and houses are small with oddly proportioned rooms. Do not just assume something will fit! Measure the lengths of the walls and the doors too. If you have a 2.5 metre wall and the door is 80 centimetres, you actually only have 170 centimetres of wall to put furniture against – otherwise you won’t be able to open your door properly

Make use of Pinterest:

Pinterest is a great place for home organisation, furniture and storage ideas. It’s worth having a browse around for inspiration. You might be able to find a way to repurpose things you already own or make something cheap look expensive and tasteful.

Buy a futon instead of a couch:

They serve the same purpose but futons are a lot cheaper. Plus they very easily convert into a bed so you can have friends stay over with no notice.

Try to score a mattress from friends or family:

Good mattresses are really expensive. Yes, you can get cheap and nasty ones but you really do need a proper mattress for a number of health reasons. This means spending money that you probably don’t have. So it’s time to beg and borrow from your family and friends. Ask the people you know if there is any chance that someone has a mattress they don’t need. Since they cost thousands, people are often unwilling to throw them out even when they update. You’d be surprised by the number of people that have used ones laying around. Alternatively, you can try buying a used one on eBay or Gumtree. Just take it to get a proper deep clean before using it.

Got a birthday or is Christmas coming up? Ask for furniture:

Don’t let your aunt buy you another So Fresh CD. Use these occasions to request tea-towels, plates, cushions, sheets and all those other small things that really add up when you have to buy them all at once. Or ask people to pool money to help you buy your dining table.


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Mia Steiber

Mia Steiber is the Editor of the Shopping section at finder. She has a serious shopping habit and an addiction to gold jewellery. Her talents include tracking down one-off or almost sold out pieces and knowing the sizing charts for just about every brand.

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