Free furniture is out there—you just need to know where to find it. For one reason or another, plenty of people are looking to ditch furniture that’s stylish and in good quality. They might be moving, downsizing, or unloading the contents of a deceased relative’s house. Here’s where to look to score free goods, no dumpster diving required.
1. Social media
You’d be surprised by how many of your friends and family have pieces they’re willing to part with. You just need to let them know what you’re looking for, says Ali Wenzke of Chicago, author of the upcoming book “The Art of Happy Moving.”
Expand your quest from just your own contacts by searching and posting on other sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, Craigslist, 5miles, Freecycle, or other local virtual bulletin board or yard sale sites. Search for “free patio furniture,” or post “ISO [in search of] free couch for my son’s college dorm.”
When you’re asking for free furniture, be sure to include the reason why you need it. “People are more likely to give you their furniture if there’s a good story behind it,” says Wenzke.
For best results, try to hit peak decluttering times: New Year’s, spring, and the start of the school year.
2. College campuses
Move-out day in college towns can yield a treasure trove of castoff futons, headboards, and room decor as students vacate their dorms and apartments in the spring with nowhere to store these items over the summer. And you’ll have another chance to hit up student housing in late summer or early fall when apartment leases switch over.
In many college towns, landlords all use some version of a standard lease with an identical move-out date, says Daniel Watts, a real estate attorney at Galuppo & Blake in Carlsbad, CA. In Davis, CA, where he went to law school, the leases reset on Sept. 1, so late August and early September were a great time to score freebies.
“With 10,000 students switching apartments simultaneously, you’ll find a lot of discarded Ikea couches, futons, chairs, desks, and tables in really great condition just set out on the sidewalk,” Watts says.
3. Rental rejects
When people move, some furniture items just don’t make the cut. They decide they don’t have the room or the ability to relocate their stuff and leave it out for the taking, says J.R. Duren, personal finance expert at HighYa.com. He recommends driving around neighborhoods that typically have a lot of rentals around the first of the month, when leases change over. You might get a gently used castoff from folks who underestimated the size of their moving truck or overestimated the size of their new place.
4. Garage sales giving away free furniture
Take an afternoon drive by a garage sale in a truck—you could end up loading it on the spot.
“The tail end of a garage sale can be a great opportunity to get furniture for free, says Rebecca Chambliss at Pacific Union International, in Los Angeles. “Often the sellers are exhausted by the end of the day and just want it gone.”
Even if the seller was hoping to get a few bucks, you can often score it for free by offering to remove other left-over items in exchange for the piece you really want, Chambliss says.
5. Storage facilities
Storage auctions such as those on the A&E show “Storage Wars” are another great place to nab free stuff. You can bid on an entire unit, but if you want to walk away with a prize without spending a penny, wait until a unit is sold and see if the buyer wants to offload any pieces.
“Oftentimes the auction buyer has only seen one or two things of value that have caught their interest, and they will be delighted if you offer to dispose of old furniture for free.”
Search for upcoming storage auctions at AuctionZip.com, in your local newspaper, or by calling local storage facilities and asking if they have any upcoming events, says Carrie Thompson, facility manager at Affordable Mini Storage in Roanoke, VA.
Make sure you register with the auctioneer when you arrive so you are permitted to walk back to the units themselves, she says.
In addition to auctions, she suggests visiting local storage facilities in person.
“Leave a business card, and let staff know you’ll haul away any furniture tenants might leave behind,” she says. It’ll save them the cost and hassle of dealing with it.
6. Thrift shops
Some thrift shops will have entire estates donated, says Chambliss. The best time to hit them up is their “intake day,” when they accept new merchandise, she says. They will often offer bargains on the items that take up room, sometimes even giving them away for free.
“Resale shops are usually limited in space and need to move out the larger items like furniture, so come prepared with a truck to haul it away,” she says.
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