Beginner Series Part 1: Living On Your Own – 5 Strategies for Outfitting your First Apartment

Condiment bottles

Hello! And welcome to part one of our five-part series on living on your own for the first time – your first apartment.

This series will cover a different topic every post:

  • strategies for outfitting your first apartment
  • what you might need – things to buy now and things that can wait
  • how to organize your space
  • how to keep your home clean and afloat with a few daily minimums and only 15 minutes a day
  • how to make/cook easy, quick and healthy meals. This will save you loads of money at the grocery store

I know it’s super exciting and you can’t wait to outfit your apartment with all the things you’ve admired from design blogs for all these years. Except you discover that your paycheck is barely enough to cover the rent, and now you’re starting to realize that you probably won’t be buying a whole house full of furniture all in one go. Besides, there’s no fun in that! It takes time to accumulate things that fit your particular style.

Today’s post is about the various strategies you can use to find the things you need without breaking the budget. Check back here on Monday for a check list of things you can take your time buying, and other things you probably shouldn’t wait on.

Living Room

How do you make a place feel like home when you’re starting from scratch and with little to spend?


Tell people you need furniture and housewares. You’ll be surprised what people will offer you (my son was just offered a free washer and dryer!). It may not be exactly your style, but it’ll do until you can afford something better. If you live near your parents, ask them to spread the word among their friends, some of whom may be downsizing or clearing out. Spring is a good time to do this because a lot of people are spring cleaning.


I love secondhand stuff. I can always find something original or unique and there are so many possibilities to upcycle or makeover furniture to match your own style. Click here for ideas on some of the furniture makeovers we’ve done in our house.

Secondhand goods will be less expensive than what you buy new in stores and in many cases the quality may actually be nicer (real wood vs. particle board, for example). I bought this dining-room table and 5 chairs at a thrift store – all for $35! Click here for the $75 makeover.

Table Makeover - Before

Before buying, inspect the item thoroughly, especially if you’re buying upholstered furniture (odours, bed bugs, stains). We bought a couch from a thrift store about 6 months ago only to discover an ominous cat pee smell emanating from it when we got it home – uugh! The smell was hidden in the store by dryer sheets underneath the cushions. And be safe if buying from an individual.

  • Make the rounds at your local thrift stores and ask them if there are particular days when they put out larger items like furniture
  • Make Craigslist searches part of your daily or weekly routine
  • Team up with a friend and hit garage and yard sales early on the weekends
  • Become part of your local Freecycle community
  • If you belong to a FaceBook group, ask them if they have anything to donate. My daughter-in-law just got a whole bunch of free kitchen items from her FaceBook Mom Group. 🙂

Dining Room


Sometimes items end up in the sale section of stores because, well, no one wanted them. But there are lots of treasures to be found, often at steep discounts, in the sales section.

Not sure what you’ll need?  Check back on on Monday for a checklist of things to buy now and things to buy later.

Leave me a comment and let me know your favourite strategies for buying household goods.

Happy hunting!!



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