Why You Should Be Careful When Furnishing You Off-Campus Apartment

Moving off campus is fun and exciting. For many students, this experience is their first time living completely autonomously. But before you stock your new pad with furniture you picked up outside someone's house, check out our advice for buying used.

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By Sarah Wright

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The Pros and Cons of Used Furniture

Unless you're lucky enough to have wealthy parents or a job that pays enough for you to dole out thousands of dollars on a new set of furniture, you're probably going to have to buy some used goods if you're moving into an unfurnished house or apartment. There are a lot of great things about used furniture - it's often more attractive than cheap brand-new stuff (think antiques and vintage stuff you can pick up for next to nothing at garage sales and thrift stores), and you probably won't have to put it together yourself like you would with an IKEA bookshelf - but there are some distinctly bad things about used furniture as well.

For one thing, used furniture might not be in the best shape. When looking for a suitable thing to sit on within a very tight budget, this might not matter too much. A hideous couch is still a couch, after all. But it starts to be an issue when the cheap furniture you buy falls apart and becomes unusable. Then you've got to spend money on furniture again. Another drawback to used furniture is that it can come with some unpleasant extras, like bedbugs or lice. There's been a bit too much fear-mongering about bed bugs in the news recently, but it's still a very real thing to worry about with recycled beds and couches. Even dressers and other wooden furniture can carry unwanted critters.

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How to Get Good, Clean Furniture

With some common sense and a careful approach, you won't need to give up on the idea of stocking your house or apartment with recycled furnishings. These tips should set you in the right direction.

Don't Take Anything From the Side of the Road

If you live in a city or any other densely populated area, you've probably seen broken computer desks, old mattresses and soggy, drooping couches sitting outside houses and apartment buildings. Certainly, those items are sitting out there because they're no longer of use to their owners, and theoretically, you could just take them. But that's not a great idea, even if there's a 'FREE!' sign attached. You just don't know why those items have been rejected. They could be fine, simply having been replaced by a newer model, or they could be infested with millions of bedbugs just waiting to turn your life into an itchy nightmare. It's probably best to give such items a pass.

Inspect Anything You Buy - Carefully!

Bedbugs and lice can be hard to detect, but they do leave some telltale traces behind. Do some Internet research and find out what to look for. Also, make sure that there are no loose parts or structural flaws that will make an item useless soon after purchasing. You might think you'll fix it, but this probably isn't the time for such ambitions.

Get on Craigslist Early, go to Goodwill Often

If Craigslist is a local option for buying used furniture, it's a good idea to start looking early on weekends. That means Friday night after business hours are done, plus Saturday and Sunday mornings before 9 or 10. Good deals tend to get snapped up quickly, so staying one step ahead of the pack will help you snag the best stuff. If you'd rather go to thrift stores for your furnishing needs, make a few trips to different stores to make sure you aren't forced to buy the first in-budget thing you find.

With the right (clean) used furniture, you can build yourself an awesome study sanctuary at home.

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