Ultimately when you are working or studying abroad, often you are only staying short term, 6 months to a year. When you first arrive, you don’t want to be spending a lot on furniture unless you decide to extend your stay beyond a year. Here are my top five tips to furnish your home when you are on a budget living abroad.
1. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The garbage areas in the condo’s of downtown Toronto is regularly dumped with perfectly usable, second hand furniture. In the fall of 2014, my roommates and I found a low line, mock leather couch in the garbage area in one of the Condo’s in City place, not too dissimilar to the one below. Other than the internal lining falling off the couch, it was perfect for our small downtown apartment. Of course, we made sure to disinfect it with multiple layers of disinfectant spray and steam cleaned it before we used it!
2. Friends leaving the city. In the first few weeks of moving to Toronto, I was fortunate enough to meet mutual friends who were leaving their life in Canada to go home to Australia. As they were quick to leave and keen to lighten their luggage load, we recieved many free items from them. It meant that we got a free, kettle, toaster, blender, iron, a small clothes-rack and even some fresh sheets and towels. Also because she was a female a lot of miscellaneous female items like nail polish, moisturizer and even some second hand clothes. Her generosity meant that we saved almost $500 on buying these small house hold items ourselves.
3. Furniture from the previous tenant. Often the tenant whose room you will occupy is fully furnished with items they are trying to sell. For them, it is more convenient to leave those items and sell it to the next tenant. Recently I moved further north of downtown and the tenant before me was keen to sell his furniture and gave me his bed frame and mattress at a heavily discounted price. He also gave away for free a small night stand, book shelf and in addition, his roommate gave me his old study desk for free as he was also re-furnishing his room.
4. Kijiji or Gumtree. For those of you that don’t know, kijiji is the equivalent to Australia’s Gum Tree. Kijiji and Gum tree is a site where you can post a classified add for free: anything from contract services, real estate to selling furniture. Toronto has a transient population, many people moving locations frequently and when they do, they are always looking to upgrade, sell or simply give away their furniture. The items listed on here are often heavily discounted as some people are keen to get rid of their items fast. You can always rely on kijiji to find a good deal on furniture.
5. Canadian Tire. Lastly, as a cheaper alternative to Ikea, my roommates and I bought our dining set table from Canadian tire for about $50. Split between the three of us, it was an absolute bargain. For three people not originally looking to live long term, this was a cheap and easy way to furnish the dining room. Both the tables and the chairs are foldable, so we easily carried it from Canadian Tire to our downtown apartment, which also saved us shipping costs.
I also furnished my entire room with Canadian Tire furniture, however there is a whole other blog needed for that story…. Stay tuned.