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The Cost of Setting Up House

For the past week, I’ve lacked both the time and motivation to blog about personal finance – because I’ve been spending all my time and money shopping.

At least, that’s what it feels like. Moving to 3,000 miles away and setting up house required much more money than I had previously thought. Even though my preferences on furnishings and housewares bounce between the cheapest and the very cheap, total expenses added up to several hundred dollars…. Unfortunately, I am still not done.

My expenses to date:

  • BEDROOM: $400 on mattress & bedframe (plus, I still need a desk and a chair)
  • KITCHEN: $100 on cookware, utensils, spices, cleaning supplies, etc. Our beautiful, brand-new kitchen was completely empty… and you don’t realize how much stuff you need for a functional kitchen (salt, anyone?) until you have to start from scratch.
  • FITNESS: $21 on yoga mat and dumbbells
  • CLOSET: $37 on shoe rack and hangers
  • BATHROOM: $40 on bath towels, hand towels, and bath mat
  • LIVING/DINING: $60 on my share of the dining table & chairs

I followed the usual advice for keeping costs down – buy used from Craigslist, check out discount retailers such as Ross or TJ Maxx, look for free stuff when you can – to the best of my ability. But even $5 or $10 items add up quickly when I have to buy 10 or 20 of them. Many of these items I had back at home and had to leave with CB or sell because it simply wouldn’t make sense to ship.

For example… a trash can. It’s not expensive, but it’s something you NEED to have. I picked up a $7 can at Target, even though I had 3 trash cans from Target back home (do trash cans EVER break?). Or, how about drinking glasses. A package of 12 tumblers cost $9. Certainly not expensive by any means, but that’s still $9 that I wouldn’t have to pay if I had the glasses I did back home. Now multiply that $7 or $9 by 20, and weep. I call it “budget death by a thousand cuts.”

If I were to live alone, I would have spent even more because there wouldn’t be roommates to split the costs with. So that is something to be grateful for. Once the house-furnishing process is done, however, my wallet will breath a big sigh of relief. It’s gotten so bad that I do not want to look at my credit card statements, at all.

(Speaking of… when I decided to live with roommates, I wanted to save some money and hopefully make new friends. Well, I think I really hit the roommate lotto. My two roommates are amazing. A new friend came over to the house tonight for dinner, and he remarked on our “chemistry” – he couldn’t believe that we’ve only known each other for a couple of days. We’ve never met in person before we moved in, but somehow, there were a lot of friendship sparks going on).

Have you ever had to set up/furnish a new home? How much did it cost you?

  • Paige - I agree wholeheartedly. And even though I'm a little further along in the process than you, I still fell like there are new things cropping up all the time that I have to buy. They sure do add up! ReplyCancel

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More - I never had to set one up from scratch but luckily I normally had my parents giving me their old stuff. There were still a lot of things I needed to go out and buy but nothing like starting from scratch. Congrats on hitting the roommate lotto. That is huge and hopefully will be a very good arrangement for you! ReplyCancel

  • @gardenJess - Oh, Goodwill! Seriously – if you're not furnishing this apartment as a permanent situation – .25 for a glass is a deal. You'd be amazed with a little hunting what cool things you can find. Including a trash can. And if you go to one in a nice neighborhood – even better! ReplyCancel

  • Alicia Jaybird - I live in a house with provided furnishing in all the common areas including the kitchen, and I've still spent quite a bit of money furnishing my room and filling the gaps with items not included in bare bones furnishing, like a $5 vegetable peeler, $3 wine glasses, and so on. I'll be moving to a new place in a year and am already dreading the cost of set up. It's hard to move far from your family and not be able to take advantage of the many hand-me-downs that can come with living locally! ReplyCancel

  • Leigh - I am with you on that! My condo is bigger than my last apartment, so I needed more garbage cans. Thankfully there haven't been a lot of little things and I managed to find some cheap ones, but they still add up.

    Congrats on finding such awesome roommates!! ReplyCancel

  • Shannyn - I'm getting ready to move back across country and luckily I'll be using the stuff I stored with my family ,but when I moved out to Chicago I felt nickled and dimed to death! I know exactly what you mean, the little things add up so fast- things that I didn't have room to pack but needed for the home- cutting boards for cooking, ice cube trays, lamps & mops…little things just to make living doable really adds up.

    I know when I move back west next month I'm really going to be hurting for cash since even with my old furniture I will still need to replace and supplement a few things! ReplyCancel

  • Newlyweds ona Budget - Setting up house is expensive. I remember when I moved out of my parents, everything added up so quickly. I had to buy pots and pans, cleaning supplies, toilet paper…just the little things add up!! I must have spent about 2 grand…
    then when i got married about six months later, we had to buy even more stuff since I could no longer borrow any of my roomates thigns, such as a vacuum cleaner. For a while we relied on our parents to feel sorry for us and gift us some things. ReplyCancel

  • My Money Design - Ohhh, I remember when we first moved into our new house. The pain of buying ALL new stuff! I had just signed away my life on the loan, and then I had to go buy blinds and drapes for the whole house. What? That's like an extra $500 I didn't factor in. We also didn't have towel bars or toilet paper fixtures. Man the things you take for granted! ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I had a towel bar! But no towels… and bath sheets don't come cheap even when you buy them from Costco or Ross. ReplyCancel

  • belowhermeans - M. and I still face this (in smaller bits) every month as we try to furnish/decorate our place to the maximum. ReplyCancel

  • The Asian Pear - Yeah, setting up does take some money. I remember when I moved to an apartment out of town for school, I had to rebuy everything. Nothing extravagant as I was bringing my own furniture but lil things… They all add up! ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I spent a ton of money (or it seemed like a ton of money) when my husband and I moved to our new place after our wedding. Luckily we got a lot of practicle gifts for our home, but I felt like we were going to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond returning and buying things every day for two weeks just trying to figure out what we really needed versus what we wanted. We mainly stuck with the basics, but there's still a ton of things we need to buy to make our home more organized and functional, but we're going to spread those purchases out. ReplyCancel

  • Little House - Furnishing a place is definitely costly -at least you can split it with your roommates! Each time I move to a larger place, Mr. LH wants to "fill it up." I'm pretty sure we'll never be completely finished buying furnishings. ;) ReplyCancel

  • Kim - I just moved recently and am in the process of “setting up house” too. The cost of all the little things certainly add up quickly! Can I ask you where you ended up getting your mattress and bed frame from? $400 seems like such a deal and I’m all about saving as much money as I can! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Hi Kim, I got my bed frame (really just a metal rack, $120) and mattress (thick memory foam, $280) on Amazon.com. If you do a search there you will find many options. I also checked out overstock.com, they have some good stuff. Let me know I can help more. ReplyCancel

      • Kim - Hi, can you please post the link to the memory foam mattress you purchased? How do you like it so far? I don't really want to spend more than $500 total (mattress and frame) but feel so overwhelmed… Thanks for your input! ReplyCancel

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