Moving in New York City can be a hassle. Most apartments don’t come furnished, and outfitting your space can get expensive. Between living room and bedroom furniture and everything you need to get cooking in your kitchen, it’s easy to spend upwards of $1,000 on apartment goods. And after already dropping some serious dough on first/last/security and a brokers fee, you might be finding your pockets a little shallow.
One way to avoid plunging off the deep end is by buying and selling furniture on Craigslist. In the five apartments I’ve lived in since moving to New York City, I’ve always bought second hand furniture to save on cost. It’s not always a walk in the park though, and there are definitely some things you want to look out for. Here is what I have learned:
Do a Quick Background Check
You most likely won’t be able to run someone’s social security, or check for any past criminal activity, but at least ask for the other person’s Facebook account. Make sure they seem somewhat normal before going into a stranger’s home, or inviting them into yours. When I first started looking for apartments, I thought I would be able to find an apartment to sublet on Craigslist. I searched around for places I liked and set up appointments to view the spaces without ever asking for details on the person who posted the ad. On my first day of searching, I showed up to a dreamy space in the West Village, only to find a man twice my age at the door. It immediately felt like an uncomfortable situation, so I grabbed my stuff and got out of there. I’m sure Steve from the Village (with art laid around the kitchen and living room) was a great guy but not the roommate I was looking for. I could have avoided this situation and the hike to his apartment if I had taken the time to ask for a few valuable details.
Weed Out the Crazies
In a similar vain, get a feel for the person on the other end of the transaction, and weed out any people who seem a little strange. I recently tried to sell luggage on craigslist, and had one buyer offer me tissues instead of cash. When I denied the tissues, she offered me a “vintage purse.” Thoughtful, nice perhaps, but not what I was looking for. Stick to people who are serious about the transaction at hand.
Buying an armoire for half the price it sells in stores? Great! Carrying it up a fourth-floor walk-up? Not so great. While buying furniture second hand can be a great way to save some money, invest in a couple of movers to help you lug your new purchase home. I once tried to move a couch by myself into an Uber to get it home. It didn’t work out. Man With a Van is a cheap option for moving help, or pay some friends in pizza and beer for a couple hours of heavy lifting.
List Things as ‘First Come First Serve’
When selling your own items on Craigslist, always mark things as ‘first come first serve.’ Reserving things for one specific person is courteous, but puts you at risk for no-shows. List all your items as ‘first come first serve,’ – the first to show up with the cash gets the goods. It also ensures people are timely and you’re not stuck waiting around for anyone.
If you’re listing multiple items, group them in one post and even consider holding a yard-sale-style open house. When I moved out of my last apartment, my roommate and I listed everything in one post and set a window of time people could come by to check things out. We had a revolving door of people in-and-out of our apartment, buying things on the fly. It was a great way for us to sell a lot of our items all at once.
When moving around in the city, Craigslist can be a useful option for buying and selling furniture and other household goods. You’re likely to save money buying second hand items, rather than shopping for everything new. However, buyers beware—it can also be a huge headache. Posting/responding to ads, coordinating with sellers, and hiring movers is time consuming. You can run into some questionable characters and are required to flex to other people’s schedules. You may even spend a significant amount of money hiring movers to transport your new items.
Looking for a way to avoid the headache completely? Move into a furnished apartment, like those offered by Bedly, to skip the buying/selling and furniture assembly nightmare. All Bedly apartments come fully furnished with everything you need—from bed linens to couches to dishware, we’ve got you covered.
Photo credits in order of appearance: My Domaine, Comedy Central