Moving into Your Rental Home: A Buying Guide

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


One of the most exciting points of the school year is the first few days back, seeing all of your roommates, meeting new ones and getting back into university life. To make the first few days a bit more enjoyable, less stressful and to make the transition smoother its best to move in and organize your place a bit beforehand. My move into my university student house consisted of various weekends of me dropping old furniture off and other household purchase off as well as painting my room and setting up my bed.

If this entire task seems completely overwhelming and you don't know where to start, where to find furniture to fill your house etc. This post will hopefully lead you on your way.

Where to Get Cheap Furniture
Where you get furniture depends on what you consider gross and unsanitary I guess. For those who would snag a couch sitting at the end of someone's driveway that's all you, and you can probably get it cleaned if you wanted to, and save yourself a ton of money. There are other options and many of them where you can find desks, chairs, kitchen tables, bed frames, dressers etc.

  • Check out garage sales for furniture of all kinds
  • If you have a Habitat ReStore near you, check it out- you're supporting a charity and getting discount furniture
  • Check out Value Village or Goodwill. I have heard of many people snagging tables and other furniture for ridiculously low prices
  • Search through Kijiji and Craigslist people are always selling
  • For inexpensive new furniture check out Ikea or JYSK (A JYSK is opening up in Guelph this August)
  • See if anyone in your family is getting rid of old furniture, you know where it came from and they will often give it to you for FREE. Plus it's often a good excuse for them to get new furniture. Total win for everyone
  • Also talk to the students that previously lived in your home, they are often willing to leave furniture or sell it to you for cheap if they are graduating (they really don't want student furniture any more or don't want to haul it back home)

Decorating Your Room
Some landlords unfortunately don't want you to paint, and often it is a good thing (save yourself a lot of hassle) unless your walls are absolutely disgusting. If you're allowed and want to take on the painting challenge there are some cheap ways of getting it done.

  • Check out Dulux paint stores. They often have a buy 1 get 1 50% off deal. So you can get your paint and primer there. (For most rooms you only need a can any ways).
  • Buy brushes, rollers and other supplies at the dollar store. Dollarama is a great place to check.
  • For doing edges snag yourself some painters tape (usually green or blue) if not just freehand away I guess.

In terms of decorating your room there are a few good ways to do it. Check out Walmart for various picture frames, wall art and mirrors etc. They are usually inexpensive, and you can even get digital pictures developed for really cheap there as well. Also consider posters for your walls, the University of Guelph does have a poster sale at the beginning of the year. If not you can also check out http://posters.ca/

Stocking up the Kitchen
One of the things I realized once I moved away from home was the amount of things that a kitchen has in it and how many gadgets, pots/pans, trays, bowls, plates you need in order to make a meal, the list goes on and on. You begin to quickly realize that if you have any chance of making even Kraft Dinner you need a pot, some sort of stirring object, butter, milk, possibly a colander (that thing that drains the water) and if you're really fancy a bowl to eat it out of. You can see how this all adds up. So I have devised a plan to give you a decent list of all the things you need to stock up you're kitchen. Hope it helps.

Cheap Student's Kitchen List

So where can you get most of this stuff?

  • Check out Canadian Tire for cheap deals on pots, pans, silverware and cooking accessories. Starting August they often have their back to school sales for most school related products.
  • Ikea also has some cheap kitchen accessories. Just don't get sucked in and buy a bunch of unnecessary stuff. It happens I know.
  • Get old pots and pans and baking gear from your parents or relatives. If you want you can try out kijiji and craigslist but it could be a little gross :S up to you.

Other things you may have forgotten

  • Light bulbs! Batteries!-These are the 2 most annoying things ever when they die or burn out. Especially when those batteries are powering your smoke detectors. Have extra's on hand so you can actually sleep through the night when they start dying at 2am.
  • Buy a lot of toilet paper if it's on sale-stock up
  • Garbage, recycling and green bin bags
  • Cleaning supplies; Windex, Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Toilet Bowl brush, All-Purpose cleaner, rags for cleaning, paper towel. And the greatest invention ever..the Magic Eraser
  • Garbage cans for inside your room, for the kitchen and for outside (some of these may have been provided by your landlord)
  • Soaps- Face, hand, body, dish, dishwasher. So many soaps.
  • Snag an extra pair of sheets, you will thank me.
  • Fans and portable heaters. Unless you are rolling in the dough you won't have your AC (if you have it) or heat pumping at all times during the year. These 2 can be a lifesaver.
  • Shot glasses!-Geez people I shouldn't need to remind you.
  • Deck of cards-you never know when you might need them
  • Red Cups and ping pong balls-Just necessary
  • Scotch Tape, Elastics and twist ties. If not I'm sure you will find a creative way to seal/close things..

In addition to stocking you’re home with furniture, you may be quick to realize that you have very little in terms of food and don't know where to begin. Just like kitchen utensils, you do need quite a few ingredients here and there in order to get a meal together. There are a few shelf-stable/non-perishable things that you should always have around; the fresh stuff is mostly up to you.

The Essentials:

-Spray Oil/Cooking Oil
-Tomato Sauce (Canned/in Jars)
-Canned/Frozen Veggies & Fruits
-Kraft Dinner/Mr Noodles
-Chicken/Beef/Beans or your choice of protein
-Some sort of fruit (if you do that) - or assorted fruit juices :S
-Canned Tuna/Chicken/Ham

The Essential Spices (if you actually use spices)
-Red Pepper Flakes
-Garlic Powder or real garlic. You can also buy pre-chopped garlic in a jar.
-Seasoning Salt (awesome on fries)
-Steak spice (for chicken and of course steak)
Check out a more comprehensive list here (if you really are dedicated chef)

Now I have just given you the basics. Most of the food choices you make are going to be more specific to allergies, tastes and cooking abilities. A few good frozen foods are always a good call in case you haven't made it to the grocery store.Lauren Bernardo is a current University of Guelph Commerce student.  Her blog Cheap Students aims to help students save money and keep it. Her writing is inspired by her personal experiences as a student on a budget and by her love for saving money.

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