If you’ve ever moved into a new space, you may have also experienced the wave of unsolicited advice people will give you when living in a new place for the first time. Whether it’s an apartment or a house, this is especially true when you move into a new place that is unfurnished or by yourself. Up until I was 26, I mostly lived with family or roommates so while I was comfortable living away from home, I didn’t anticipate all the work that came with starting from scratch. Last year, I bought my very first apartment and moved in by myself and overwhelming was an understatement.
And while there are a million lists of what you need in a new apartment, I wanted to talk about all the things you don’t need. It’s so easy when moving into a new place to get swept up in the design (Pinterest all day everyday) and the excitement that you may feel the need to buy everything all at once.
However, before you head off into the world of beautiful interior design, and save you a trip to IKEA, I wanted to talk about all the things you don’t need in a new apartment. In case you’re unfamiliar with what an anti-haul is, it originated from Kimberly Clark on YouTube in the beauty community where it’s essentially where you talk about all the things you don’t buy. While I only watch this type of videos from certain YouTubers (because sometimes I think people take it too far in a negative aspect), I think it’s important to talk about especially in this world of mass consumerism. And while everything I talk about here is super personal, these were just the items I felt like I didn’t need to purchase right away for my personal lifestyle needs.
1. Brand New/Expensive Furniture
One of the most eye-opening lessons I have learned as an adult is how expensive everything really is. A couch, expensive. A table, expensive. A chair, expensive. And omgosh a set of dining chairs, through the roof expense. And this is the probably the most common rule, but buying new or expensive furniture is completely unnecessary for a new apartment. Places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and thrift stores are amazing resources to look for used furniture although it might take some digging.
When buying things or decorating for my apartment I try to live by the general rule:
It’s not my forever home.
Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t try to make my living place as homey and personal as possible, it just means I have limits (mostly financial) on what’s realistic. If I ever feel the desire or have financial means (lol) to purchase a house, then that would be a different story. Maybe then I would be able to justify a $6000 dining room table and set, but for now, free is best.
So for the most part, when buying my furniture for my apartment, I got it for free. I didn’t end up buying anything from Craigslist because my friend’s parents were also moving at that time and they just wanted their furniture gone; they didn’t even want to go through the process of selling it and said if they didn’t give it to me, it was just going on the curb. Turns out they had a really nice solid wood oak dining room table and coffee table. They are a little big for my apartment, so they wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it works. I also painted them to have it match my apartment and got some dining room chairs for $6/piece from a local thrift store.
The piece of advice I have around this topic for furniture it give it time. Not everything will be available exactly when you need it and if you take your time, the savings are immense. For instance, I actually did buy my couch brand new. I looked around and couldn’t find anything I loved until I came across a couch that was not only massively discounted at a wholesaler, but they were also doing a promotion with no tax and free delivery which made a big difference to me as I don’t own a car and don’t know many people with trucks.
Lastly, I held off on getting some extra pieces like a book shelf because I didn’t need one right away. A few months after I moved out, my sister was also moving and gave me a bunch of her old furniture as it wouldn’t fit into the new place so I got a bookshelf, bar cart, and ottoman – for free!
2. An Instant Pot (or any super specialized kitchen gadget)
This may just have been me, but I feel like there was a lot of hype around the Instant Pot, especially in the last year. If you don’t know what an Instant Pot is, it’s essentially a fancy pressure cooker. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love my Instant Pot, but I don’t think it was a necessary expense especially at the very beginning. The Instant Pot was the kitchen gadget that I didn’t need a the very beginning, but that unnecessary expense could take many forms such as a fancy blender, waffle iron, panini press, or anything other basic pots, pans and serving/preparation utensils. It’s anything that you don’t need to spend that much money on if you aren’t going to get immense use out of, and spoiler: apart from pots, pans, and a basic blender/food processor if you cook a lot, you don’t need much else at the beginning.
Take the time to figure out what you will actually use a day to day basis. For instance, my Instant Pot is not something I use all the time, but I am really happy I have a rice cooker (second hand from my mom who’s apparently been collecting things “just in case”) because I’m used to having a lot of rice in my diet.
I am happy I have the Instant Pot now because it does make things taste like they’ve been cooking for hours (especially soups). Finally, if you’re going to decide to buy the fancy gadget if you absolutely require, either get it second hand or on sale. Because the newer models of the Instant Pot were still new to the market, I had a really hard time finding one second-hand that wasn’t almost as expensive as in-store. I stalked the prices from every major retailer for weeks before finding a price drop (bless Black Friday/Boxing Day sales) and quickly ordered it as fast as my fingers could type out my credit card number.
3. Fancy Ingredients
Okay so I just realized this article has a cooking theme related to it so I hope it is still applicable to you even if you’re not as enamoured with the kitchen. When living on your own, it may be really tempting to buy fancy spices or ingredients because you want to make those Instagrammable dishes, but when you are actually living in a place, you’ll realize those things do not often get used.
Everyday cooking use pretty simple ingredients and when you’re first starting off, it’s more important to stock up on the most used ingredients such as salt, pepper, garlic, onions, vegetable/chicken stock and eggs that are used in almost everything than to go and buy this massive package of curry because you saw it on a Tasty video. I’m still paying for that mistake by the way so if anyone wants curry – come on over!
4. A Cheese or Decorative Cutting Board
Again a food related item, but I think is symbolic of anything decorative over functional. A marble cheese board is a fun item to buy; a boring wooden one is not. And for you’re a new place that’s one of the things I wish I had done – bought for functionality rather than decorative at the very beginning.
Before I had even fully moved into my apartment, I saw a beautiful marble cheese cutting board on sale and I had to have it. It was extremely heavy and I only used it a handful of times until it suddenly broke one day. I had only been using it for less than a month! As it started crumbling away, I realized why it was so cheap – because it was just made of bits of marble mushed together instead of actual marble so it crumbled instead of cracking. In the meantime, I didn’t have a very effective cutting board for my real cooking. I finally invested in a good wooden cutting board for my everyday needs and another cutting board for meats specifically. So choosing function over décor is not easy, but being an adult means coming to terms with the importance of things like avoiding cross contamination instead of what I saw on Pinterest.
5. Generic Artwork
This last one is a little snobby, I will admit, but it’s because I was an Arts student and a huge advocate for the arts and the importance of creativity. I personally love looking into people’s home as a reflection of themselves and generic artwork just doesn’t do it for me.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a painting or piece of art if it really speaks to you and holds a lot of value – that’s the whole point of art! But I would caution against using it as a need to fill the void of blank walls. I was watching an episode of “My Sweet Digs” from Refinery29 (the best series for inspo – highly recommend) and I saw an episode where a women said she just bought some pictures because she felt it should be there, but kind of regrets it now.
Walls can stay blank until you decide how you want to fill them. Art is so easy and meaningful to create but I also think that anything can be art on display. I’ve seen lots of people use the artwork in their home to reflect their hobbies such as a guitar, displaying a collection, or travel photos.
I was talking to a co-worker once about the value of decluttering after reading the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo about how he knows he need to get rid of stuff but can’t bare to get rid of his old goalie mask from his days of playing hockey. I suggested he just put it out as art, and he loved the idea! It works really well because instead of being kept in an old basement, he can display it and it makes him happy to look at. That’s the feeling I think art should bring happiness – whether it’s in the form of inspiration or calmness.
If you aren’t artistic or don’t have lots of hobbies items to display, I think Etsy and Instagram are great ways to find local artists! You can commission a quote or design and have it sent to you or created as a downloadable printable. One of my friends also got her travel photos printed on a canvas and they look amazing! Check Groupon before ordering those types of things though because they always seem to be on sale there.
All in all, there are definitely more costly mistakes I could have made for my apartment and they were important lessons for me to learn. Even though these items were really personal to me and my experience, I hope that it inspires you to look at your own needs when buying for a new home and not just what people or Pinterest tells you a home “should” look like. Take your time and the things will come. Being an adult is a loooonng journey.
To a happy (and sensible) home,
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