5+ Apartment Items You Should (and Shouldn’t) Buy Used

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Trying to save a few bucks buying decor? This guide gives you all the details on what’s okay to buy secondhand and what apartment items you’re better off buying new.

You’ve heard the saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” right? It’s the reason why secondhand stores have always been so popular.

When you’re furnishing and decorating your apartment, secondhand is almost always the budget-friendly way to go. But sometimes, used items aren’t a good idea, especially if they’re closer to trash than treasure.

So how do you know when to shop for castoffs and when to hit the department stores? This guide gives you all the details on what’s okay to buy secondhand and what you’re better off buying new.


1. Kitchen Essentials

Stocking up on kitchen essentials can get expensive. Just the basics can take up a lot of your kitchen budget.

However, buying some items used can help you cut costs. For instance, you can confidently buy your dishware secondhand.

You’re safe to hit up a thrift shop for things like:

  • Silverware
  • Dishes
  • Glasses
  • Cups
  • Pots
  • Pans

Watch for any cracks or chips in ceramic or glassware. These can easily spread into a shattered dish before you make it to your apartment.

As for appliances, unless the item looks brand new, it’s safer to invest in a new one. Coffeemakers, toasters, and anything else with a plug can be fire hazards. If the previous owner didn’t take care of them, you might be paying a price far beyond that “deal” you thought you got.


2. Room Organizers

Living in an apartment usually means making the most of limited space. Your organization skills are going to be on point by the time you get settled in!

Baskets, bins, and dividers will become your best friends. You can easily find these at a secondhand shop. The key, though, is to match them. 

Sure, you can have an eclectic style and get a little of everything. But when the edges are the same, the storage items line up with each other and don’t take up as much room.

Most people don’t donate storage totes to secondhand shops, and if they do, the store usually repurposes them. But if you’re lucky, you might find one or two to grab before someone else does.

Makeup and jewelry holders are also good thrift finds. If you buy these new off the shelf or online, they can be pricey. However, you can get almost the same thing cheaper if you search for ‘office organizers’ instead of makeup organizers. It’s all in the name!


3. Fixer-Uppers

If you have the know-how and patience for DIY projects, fixer-uppers can be added to your shopping cart. 

Millions of people would rather replace than repair their damaged items, but they feel guilty throwing them out. Secondhand shops are often the lucky recipients of these lightly used goods.

Pre-owned mirrors, frames, furniture, and other items are good DIY jobs. If you’re an electronic expert, you may even find video game consoles, appliances, and other wired or digital goods you can buy cheap and repair easily.

What starts as a way of filling up your apartment inexpensively can turn into a hobby. When you get really good at it, you can fix what you find and resell it for a profit, too!


4. Furniture

Buying new furniture can put a huge dent in your moving and decorating budget.

There are so many places that sell gently used furniture, so you should be able to find pieces you love. The trick is making sure they’re in good shape and they match what you already have in the room.

In fact, buying gently used but well-crafted furniture is better than buying brand new but shoddy goods.

Think about it:

If you spend $50 on a bookshelf that collapses within months, you’ll have to replace it. That’s wasted money on top of your new furniture!

If budget is an issue, you can get quality workmanship at a discount price at secondhand stores.


5. What to Never Buy Secondhand

You can easily fill most of your home with secondhand items.

However, like underwear and toothbrushes, there are just some things you should never buy used. This rundown of apartment essentials needs to be on your “buy brand new” list:

Baby Cribs

When you’re dealing with the furniture that is going to hold your most precious possession, you don’t want to take chances.

There are so many recalled cribs that it’s hard to keep up with them. Plus, if the previous owner misused the item, it might not be sturdy anymore.



Unless you know the previous owner well and are certain they used a mattress pad, a used mattress is a definite no. Every mattress is a haven for dust mites and bedbugs. 

These pests spread throughout your home quickly, and they’re almost invisible. A mattress can be infested and you wouldn’t know it until it’s too late!



Okay, makeup isn’t technically an apartment item, but it is an essential for many people, and it’s often found in secondhand stores. But it’s not a good idea to buy used beauty products, as the item could be contaminated with infection-causing microorganisms.



The 2012 hit song “Thrift Shop” may have brought secondhand stores back into fashion, but for savvy shoppers, they’ve always been the rage. 

When you’re filling your apartment with appliances, decor, and furniture, use this guide to show what to target and what to avoid in your next thrift store adventure.


Author Bio


Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Prime Place Arrow to help them with their online marketing.

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