I am planning on moving into an apartment by the end of this summer. I read the "Heading out on your own series" which has been a terrific resource. Could I get some advice/input on buying furniture and essential items for my own place?

Right now I am thinking about how my new place will look. I need furniture and won't be lucky to get hand me downs. I also need to upgrade my bed from a twin to a queen size. I guess what I am trying to do is plan how my place will look and get everything I need without burning too much money.

I love wooden furniture or anything that has the brown/wooden look to it. Right now I am listing what I will need and have so far: couches/sofas, an eating table, a TV stand, and a few dressers. Any advice on how to go about this and save money? Perhaps buying them all at one place in order to get some sort of discount?

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Cheap is impossible -- unless it's cheap work!  Here is my limited experience:

* Got some new cheap furniture 20 years ago at one of the box stores.  It's held together, but not well.

* Got a bed ordering it on ebay.  It's not antique, but it's held up 10 years w/o scratches.  (Metal frame).  This was cheap.

* Got my dining room table from a junk and antique shop:  it was hundreds of dollars, but that's cheap for something of sturdy, if old, construction. 

So from my past, I'd say definitely check out the junk/antique shops, and eBay.

Monitor Craig's List, Kijiji and other similar sites like a fucking hawk

A lot of people get rid of furniture at dirt cheap prices because they want it out of their house ASAP. A lot of people will also just give it away for free if you disassemble it and/or get it our of their house yourself. 

IMO these are where the best deals are to be found.

Otherwise, look for listings of multi-home / community garage sales, estate sales, second hand stores, etc. 

Besides craigslist.org we have had luck finding (and getting rid of) things on https://www.freecycle.org/  IF you have a truck, you can run a classified add to the effect "Will pick up used furniture." 

Haunt thrift stores and wake up early on Saturday mornings to scour yard sales and moving sales.  Paper often list yard sales in classified section.  Summer is the prime time for yard sales and end of summer for moving sales.  Ask around at your Church to see if anyone has extra furniture that they are looking to get rid of.   Try to meet the people moving out of your new place before they leave to see what they would rather give away than haul. 

Invest in a few wood products like scratch hide, orange oil, and polishes to rejuvenate and help match what wood furniture you find. 

Date a cute interior decorator. 

2nd hand stores abound in most places as do discount furniture stores.  Watch out for cheap engineered wood products and try to stay away from them especially if large boards are made of this stuff.  Check the Salvation Army stores especially for a kitchen table.  I actually bought, when I was a bachelor, a cast-iron look aluminum garden table with 4 chairs for not a lot of money and used that as my dining table.  Big Lots sometimes has decent wood furniture without a lot of engineed wood products.  Keep an eye on the classified as well as craigslist.com for local listings.

DO NOT purchase a used mattress or boxspring!!!!!  Go to Sams, or similar store, and purchase a decent one new.  Bed frames can be bought inexpensively and you can find them at the 2nd hand stores, Big Lots, or Salvation Army type stores.  You never know if the used mattress was cleaned properly and you never know what occurred on a used mattress.

check out a webpage called estatesales.org  Every weekend in our area, estates are put up for sale.  Usually on the last day of the sale, everything goes to half off.  Since these are usually older folks homes, you can get antique/vintage (i.e. well made) furniture for next to nothing.  My house is furnished this way and it was cheap.  

My suggestion is Ikia for the bed.  When looking at the stuff look at simple basic bed frames that are made from wood, not particle board.  Those will be lighter and last a few moves.  A basic 4 inch thick foam mattress on the Sultan Laxeby sprung slat base is very comfortable long term.  It seems thin and it is tempting to get bigger deeper more expensive mattresses but from experience, the thin foam and the sprung slats are the way to go.

As to your furniture I suggest looking at second hand stores and be willing to use paint stripper to re-stain some good wood stuff you got cheap.  People tend to clear out their relatives old furniture because they already have their own, that means some really nice pieces are given to Salvation Army and such.

Do you really need a TV stand?  Do you watch TV or stream video?  

Do you really need an eating table?  Many apartments have counters that work as eating tables.

Also you may want to keep it basic and minimalistic.  It is easier to keep up, keep clean and move.

How long will you be in that city?  How long will you be living alone?  Furniture can become more of a liability than an asset when you're moving or merging households.  I'm glad I just scrounged hand-me-downs and filled in with Ikea for grad school.  Then I left it all behind when I graduated.

My advice would be to go with whatever's cheapest and lightest unless you're certain you're going to be using it in that place for a long while.  Except, don't accept anything upholstered from a stranger, due to bed bug concerns.

Most of my furniture was my grandmother's.  A big exception is my "dresser" which is 2 identical chests of drawers from Ikea.  A third made it to grad school but got left behind.  Very good friends who visit compliment me on my beautiful furniture, and point out how they don't like the dresser.  But the dresser is about 20 years old.  So cheap and light doesn't have to mean throw-away.

One of those good friends is my now-husband, and we have a budget to replace the "dresser" in our next apartment.  My grandmother's tea table, which is lovely but impractical in 2014, is one of those assets-turned-liabilities as we plan to move.

The advantage of Ikea stuff in those situations is that it's common enough that it's easy to find used and at reasonable prices, and sought after enough that you'll be able to unload it quickly when you're done (and probably at the same price you bought it used). 

Very good advice about going light and being able to walk away from things.

It is easy to overload a space if both people are trying to bring in a whole house hold of stuff each.

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