Universities across the country will be filling up their dorms and surrounding apartment complexes from now until the next three weeks. I remember my first experience going away to school. I didn’t have much, because my dorm was about the size of a medium sized bedroom, and I shared it with one other guy. I brought a computer, bedding, clothes, and a chair. We already had a bed and desk provided to us. However, many large universities don’t have enough dorms to house all of their college freshman, so some freshman need to look for alternative off-campus housing. For these freshman, the cost to go away to school rises even further, because now you need to furnish an entire apartment. If your buying furniture for your kid, make sure you don’t go overboard buying furniture that is too nice for the space it will be in. When you’re looking for dorm/apartment furniture, look for utility. Here are a few places to start looking to find quality furniture at cheap prices.
- Craigslist. Scour your local Craigslist and better yet, the Craigslist of the city where the college is located near. Bedroom sets, dining tables, couches, chairs, and desks are all easy to find on Craigslist. Make sure you put on your negotiating hat when contacting sellers on Craigslist. Many sellers on Craigslist price their stuff high, because they anticipate buyers to negotiate the price down.
- Garage Sales. Don’t look for junk. You can find some quality furniture at garage sales that might have no place in your house, but it works great for a dorm or college apartment. This is how you need to think when shopping for college furniture for your kids. Don’t think, “Ewww I would never buy that”, think, “We could make that work in his/her apartment”.
- IKEA. IKEA is a great place to find affordable dorm and college apartment furniture. Their lower end furniture is not the best quality, but it’s durable enough to last a couple of years, and it works very well in small spaces. If there is an IKEA store near you, make the trip, because you can find a lot of cheap furniture like bookcases, night stands, living room tables, lamps, mirrors, and storage bins for under $50!
- Furniture Outlets. We recently purchased an entertainment center for half its retail price at the Rooms-To-Go outlet, and it’s good enough to stay in our home for years to come. If your child needs a couch, bed frame, dining table, or any other large piece, you can find great deals at furniture outlets. If the piece has a few scratches or imperfections on it, don’t be afraid to ask for an additional discount or free shipping.
As a former college student, I can tell you that furniture gets used and abused while in school. Plus, college kids typically move around a lot during their four years, which means that furniture you buy them could be getting banged around in a truck someday or even sold to make some extra money for course books. Get your college freshman furniture that’s functional and looks decent, but don’t go overboard. It’s not worth it!