As much as I’d love to pretend summer lasts forever (gotta love the Arkansas heat), unfortunately in a few months I’ll have to replace my summer sandals and light novels with sensible shoes and heavy textbooks. With the end of summer comes the beginning of my big move into my first apartment. And while I’m excited to have a place of my own, I know I can’t afford all the new things Pinterest has convinced me I need.
Last weekend I began my seemingly impossible quest around Arkansas to find everything I needed on a college student’s budget. After buying sheets and a comforter new, my mom suggested we try our hand at the Russian roulette of Goodwill hunting. Despite the rain Armagdedon that threatened our odyssey to the land of the thrifty, we were able to make it to two Goodwill stores here in Little Rock to find what we needed.
In the first store we went in, I began to get a sense of all the things I actually needed, rather than just wanted for my apartment. We wandered around looking at the amazing selection of furniture (that we didn’t need) before stumbling upon the kitchen section. Here I found the best pick of the day: a full set of kitchen supplies ($3.50!) that would fill all my drawers.
In the second store we found something I don’t necessarily count as an essential, but I do count as a miracle: a bed frame ($10!) for the bed I already was planning to bring to my new place. Goodwill had bed frames in every size you could want, and the employees even helped us put one together so we could see if the size worked. They even carried the frame all the way to our car after we checked out.
So after my first Goodwill apartment adventure this weekend, I had to compile a list of essentials for all first apartment owners (or anyone looking to replace or refresh their apartment arsenal). You don’t need that adorable Anthropologie throw pillow that costs more than your rent itself, but you do need some things. Below are my top ten essentials for your new little home.
1. Ready to Go. Whether you’re going to class or work from your apartment, this space needs to be your launch pad in the morning so it’s important to have what you need to start off your day right. Lucky for those of us who aren’t morning people, Goodwill sells inexpensive alarm clocks, mirrors, hair dryers, and clothes hampers.
2. Fill Your Food Space. I love eating, so of course I love kitchens. For my new apartment I will only be using kitchen supplies that I’ve borrowed from my parents or purchased from Goodwill. There is no reason to pay full price when Goodwill has everything from cups and plates to blenders and pans. P.S. I got a working blender for $5!
3. Kitchen Kit. Again, I have to mention the steal of the day: the kitchen set. It’s the little things that count. And the little things the kit included were all I needed: measuring cups, serving spoons of all sizes, a spatula, a ladle, an ice cream scoop, and even a cheese knife!
4. Get to Work. As much as we would like to leave our work at the library or our place of business, we undoubtedly find ourselves bringing our work home. Goodwill has got you covered with desk lamps, desk organizers, trash cans, and dry erase boards.
5. Electronic & Equipped. I was amazed to see the number of working electronic devices people have donated to Goodwill. While I checked out all of the other equipment and electronics the store had, one of the new-looking TVs played Friends in the background. Large screen TVs for $20 and Chandler’s classic dad jokes to laugh along with? Love it.
6. Bedroom Necessities. Nothing is more important than sleep. But let’s be realistic: you do a lot more in your bedroom besides snooze. Other essentials Goodwill has are dressers, lamps, end tables, and of course bed frames.
7. Personal Touch. One way to make your new place feel lived-in without just making it messy is to add your own little touch to every room. Go to Goodwill to find plenty of picture frames, trays, welcome mast, and coat hangers. Some of these finds will be already perfect when purchased, but others are fun DIY projects just waiting to happen.
8. Get Organized. To avoid the aforementioned mess, it’s important to start off with an organization plan. Use Goodwill’s storage boxes, hangers, food storage containers, and crates to help get your started.
9. Make it Livable. Your living room is the place you will entertain your guests in your new apartment, so look for ways to make the ideal hangout zone. Don’t buy all new pieces: pick up Goodwill TV stands, couches, rugs, and bookcases.
10. Just Relax. Moving is inevitably stressful, so make sure you’re prepared to chill out and celebrate when all the unpacking is done. While I was at Goodwill the other day, I personally tested out some huge beanbag chairs and a fuzzy desk chair, so I can guarantee you will be comfy. You can also pick up some pillows, candles, and some beautiful art to marvel at.
And everything you want to switch up or give up from your last dorm or apartment, you can get rid of and donate to Goodwill while you’re there.