How to Furnish a College Apartment on a Budget

How to Furnish a College Apartment on a Budget

Ahhhh. College Life.

I remember well the excitement of the college days! The first time I moved away from home to attend an out of town college was the first time I had the experience of living on my own and furnishing an apartment. I lived in that apartment for two years before moving to another school and experiencing dorm life in a 10’ by 10’ box with a roommate and a plastic hard mattress on a thrown together wooden frame.

Times have changed since those days in the early 1990s. Now many college students live in housing communities with pools and volleyball courts and even workout gyms. Others choose to plant themselves in a residential community alongside families. Whether you choose community living or the neighborhood scene, one of the greatest challenges of your first student housing experience is finding enough “stuff” to create a comfortable living space. Many students are asking how to furnish a college apartment on a budget.

Why Should I Be A Frugal Student?

Most college students are on a tight budget and in our current economic situation, many parents are doing all they can to simply furnish their own homes. The good news is that furnishing a new place does not cost as much as you might think if you are willing to spend a little time shopping around and thinking outside the box to find that perfect sofa or breakfast table. Also, vintage is en vogue which creates even more opportunity to have the coolest apartment in town, even when you are on a tight budget. 

how to furnish a college apartment on a budget

But Beware!


I may be the only person who warns you about college debt. I know when I went to college in 1992 no one told me that I could potentially walk across that graduation stage with tens of thousands of dollars to pay back in debt accumulated from college. In addition to that, it is getting more and more difficult to get a sufficient job after walking away with a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. Please listen when I tell you how important it is to learn to live a frugal life while you are attending college. Bad habits truly are hard to break and if you can develop frugal habits in these years, you will already be ahead when you say hello to the adult world. Work hard to accumulate as little debt as possible so you can live the life you choose to live when you are on your own the first few years after college. That’s why it is important for you to learn how to furnish a college apartment on a budget.


Three Sources for College Apartment Furniture and Decor



Yard sales are a great place to shop for basic smalls for your new apartment, such as kitchen utensils and dishes. You may also find a few pieces of good furniture there as well, particularly between early June and Late July as students are moving in and out of town. Remember to make an offer, particularly if you are buying multiple items. Most people understand that yard sales are truly the discount market and it is absolutely normal to negotiate.


Larger thrift stores offer furniture departments which carry large and small piece that may work for you. The biggest challenge with shopping thrift stores is finding items that have not been broken or overused. I would caution against getting upholstered furniture at thrift stores because they have not been cleaned since the previous user had them. Solid wood items are usually fine if you clean them well after your purchase. You can find great buys at thrift stores, particularly if you are willing to do a little bit of restoration and are willing todo a little bit more work sifting through the less desirable pieces to find that diamond in the rough.



If your college town has a good consignment shop you can find some great deals on your nicer pieces. Consignment shops tend to fill the gap between thrift stores and retail stores. A consignment shop agrees to pay approximately 50% of the sale price back to the owner of the furniture. Therefore, you can find higher quality pieces in better condition that the owners did not want to donate to thrift stores. You can expect to pay more than thrift store prices, but you will pay up to 70% less than retail. There are some other tricks to shopping consignment shops that you will get if you download our eBook on How to Furnish a College Apartment on a Budget.


When all else fails… shop retail.

However, keep your eyes open for “Back to School” sales. When the new school year is just around the corner, retail stores start vying for business. That’s when you can find the best deals. Some discount retail stores will even give you discounts if you ask, especially if you are purchasing furniture items. Never be afraid to inquire about discounts.

Get More Tips and Tricks on How To Furnishing College Apartment on a Budget

To learn more on how to furnish a college apartment on a budget, download our 9 page eBook for only $2.99.

This easy to read guide will help you decide what furniture and home decor is essential and which things to buy first. It also lists the items you can expect to find at yard sales, thrift stores, consignment stores and retail outlets. You will also learn a few tricks about shopping each of these venues and how to save money based on the policies of each type of store.

We are thankful that we can help you “Live for Less” so your can give more to the things in life that really matter, especially during this critical stage of life!

Join the Conversation…

What tips do you have on How to Furnish a College Apartment on a budget? Comment below and let’s talk.



Kevin is the founder of New Leaf Consignment Galleries. He started the business in June of 2009 and has expanded to 2 company locations (Auburn, AL and Columbus, GA) and 1 licensed location (Wetumpka, AL). He is still operating the Auburn New Leaf store.

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