Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fitting out your house or apartment on a budget

In recent posts I posted about both how I was moving into my own apartment and also my budget for 2014 and all the things I wanted to achieve this year.  I wanted to fit my apartment such that it looked classy and had good quality items, but at the same time I had quite a limited budget.  Here is how I did it and how you can fit out your apartment or house on a budget.

My budget: $2,000
What I needed to fit out: Everything except the bedroom

I was moving from a share house into my own place (as most people do) and so I had my bedroom furniture all sorted.  However I needed everything else.  Here is a guide on how to fit out your apartment or house on a limited budget.

Work out what your priorities are

There are some things which most of us will be able to get off friends and relatives, some things which we want new and other things which we are happy to get second hand.  Work out what your priorities are.  I am not that fussed about everything being new but I did want high quality furniture but was happy to get lower quality appliances.

Unless you have a budget of $10,000 - $12,000 you are not going to be able to get everything high quality and new so work out what is important to you.

Work out what you can get from others

If you have family the chances are that you will be able to get something off them.  I managed to get my washing machine and microwave from an aunt who had some old ones in storage.  I also got a fridge off her but after transporting it and cleaning it out thoroughly it turned out that it wasn't working so I needed to get another one...this is the danger of second hand goods.  My parents also had far too many pots and pans in storage that they never used so I managed to get this off them.

Now not everyone is going to be able to get this much stuff off others but most people find getting rid of large appliances to be quite a hassle so they typically put them in a shed and forget about them so ask around and see what you can get.

You can get high quality furniture second hand

Second hand does not mean
bad quality.  For Australians, Gumtree is a great place to start looking for second hand furniture.  For those in the US, Criagslist is a place to start and other countries will have equivalent sites.

You need to be careful when you buy things off these websites and make sure you check everything carefully.  I went to look at sofas and lounge suites all over the place - I wanted to avoid ones in houses which had smokers or pets and most of the time people wont tell you the truth when you call.  You can also spend as much or as little as you want depending on the quality you are looking for.  I ended up getting a custom made leather lounge suite for $400 which I was stoke with...but it did take 2 weeks of looking every day!

I haven't finished buying everything I want to buy however I managed to get most of the 'big items' of furniture for ~$1,000.

You can get almost anything off these websites but it is really buyer beware.  Make sure you check everything and be prepared to get a few duds.

Some things you may want look out for sales

There are some things such as cups, dining sets, water glasses, wine glasses, cutlery, pots and pans that you probably don't want to get second hand.  There are heaps of ways of buying these without breaking the bank.  As I mentioned above I managed to get my pots and pans free however before I realised that I could get these for free I found lower quality ones 'starter kits' available from K-Mart with lots of different pieces which cost less than $100.

I also kept an eye on homewares stores and when there was a bit sale I managed to get super high quality dining sets, wine glasses, water glasses and a whole host of other things (including serving dishes and storage containers) marked down significantly.  I ended up spending $150 on these items.

When you buy things new it is very easy to go over the top but if you keep your eye out for sales and start with cheaper items with a view to upgrading later you can fit out your house for a reasonable price.

Get the essentials first...and do the rest over time

I'm not suggesting that $2,000 is all that I will ever spend on setting up my apartment.  That is just how much I have budgeted for this year.  There are a lot of things which I need now...and some things which can wait. You should remember that places you have lived before didn't become like that on day 1 - they became 'homely' over time.

I recommend setting a budget and putting limits on what you want to spend on different items...then stick to that budget.  I know that any amount I spend over $2,000 comes off my sports car (and there is no way I'm going to let that happen).

I will post soon on appliances and how to get good deals on them.

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