Apartment Shopper’s Guide

Dishes, decorations and furniture– Oh my!

Apartment shopping can be pretty daunting for anyone, but especially for first timers. There are many essential things to buy, and money is kind of a necessity unless you intend on breaking a law or two. But there are a few solutions to get necessities and home decor on a budget.

Make a list, or two.

The first step is to make a list of everything that you absolutely need to have in your apartment. When making a list of necessities, you need to channel your excitement elsewhere so that you can focus on essentials.

You need to think about the things that you use every day and are crucial for you to have. What could you not get through your day without? This could be anything from a coffee pot to an ironing board to a video game console.

Next, think about what items you already have. If you have a TV or towels that you can use, you don’t need to add those on your list. You may want a brand new bigger TV, but this isn’t a necessary purchase, so it should stay off the “need list.”

A few examples of things that are absolutely necessary to have would be silverware, a shower curtain, kitchenware, lamps (if you don’t have built-in lights), etc.

Now you are allowed to regain that excitement and think about all of the things that you want in your apartment to help make it your own comfortable space. This would include that brand new bigger TV, some decorations, decorative pillows and other upgrades. This “want list” is pretty much unlimited. You can write as much on this list as you wish to, just know they may not all be possible to have at first. This list fuels aspiration toward your dream apartment. Goals are good, right?

Having these lists will help prevent you from spending too much and forgetting things that you need

Ballin’ on a Budget

When you’re on a budget, it’s difficult to find good prices on certain things. Don’t be afraid of used items. Scour the aisles of your local thrift store or search at garage sales. One man’s trash is a young apartment shopper’s treasure, right?

Don’t hesitate to ask family if they have items, such as furniture or pots and pans, they wouldn’t mind parting with. Most people have something they don’t use anymore just sitting there collecting dust. They would much rather it was being utilized.

Craigslist can be your best friend, especially when looking for furniture. This is similar to the thrift shops and garage sales, only now you’re exposed to a larger variety of used products at the tip of your fingers. Thank you, Internet!  

If the idea of using someone else’s things bothers you, just buy a strong cleaner, and put in some elbow grease to scrub it down. To personalize, use some DIY tricks from Pinterest to decorate it as your own. You will save money, and, if you’re like me, you’ll love your item even more because you customized it.

Photos by: Amanda Johnston

Shop Smartly

Although these methods work wonders, and your grandparents probably offered more than you wanted, you may still need a few items on that list. You can check out Walmart and Target, but don’t forget about stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx and, if you prefer online shopping, Wayfair.

While Walmart isn’t everyone’s ideal spot, it’s one of the best places to start your apartment shopping. Score those “needs” here: cheap silverware, dishes, pots and pans, dish towels, cups, decorations, kitchenware and storage compartments.

Target is a great place to buy sheet sets and comforters. They are always on sale in mid August when dorm shopping is at its peak. They are quality and comfortable.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls have great deals on quality, designer towels. You can get a Tommy Bahama bath towel for $7.99. Note, Tommy Bahama’s website only sells towels in sets, with a set of three starting at $30. This saves a lot of money, and on some quality towels, too, if I may add.

Lamps are another item where, if you shop smartly, you can pay a fraction of the price you’d normally pay. Lamps at Marshalls are usually unique and start around $35. If you check on the right day, there may be some nice ones on clearance for even less.

Candles are a great way to add a little bit of color to a room without exasperating yourself. Large candles at Walmart go for $6.26 per candle. Decorative throw pillows are also great elements that will help create the mood you’re going for without consuming your time and energy. Those can be bought at TJ Maxx starting at $16.99 or, if you’re creative, you can make your own.

Wayfair has pretty much all of the above (pillows, comforters, furniture, etc) online for decent prices as well. The site is considered “one of the world’s largest online destinations for the home.”
Getting an apartment is very exciting. You finally get the chance to have your own place and decorate it how you want. So, make your lists and get out there and start shopping!

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