Finding a Furnished Apartment (or Furnishing One on a Budget)

Everywhere I go with my traveling nurse boyfriend, we both know that we can only guarantee ourselves 3 months of residency in each city. For us, finding a furnished place is essential because we choose to only take with us what can fit inside the Jeep. I meet many other travelers who are also staying in cities temporarily and we exchange our stories. Here are some tips I’ve put together from the trial and error of finding places to live for 3 months at time:

1. Negotiate with AirBnB. 

AirBnB apartment rental

When heading to a new place, one of the first things I do is search on AirBnB. More often than not, I’ll find places that need people for months at a time. However, AirBnB tags extra fees onto any rental, for the security of the person renting but also to make money for the site. There has been once or twice that my boyfriend and I talked to a person renting and, with good reviews on our profile, convinced them to negotiate a lease with us outside of AirBnB. This brings the price for a 3 month rental down significantly and also helps out the person renting because they have a consistent paycheck from us and don’t have to worry about booking their place to vacationers every other week.

2. Take a Walk. 

downtown Austin finding an apartment

It can be easy in today’s world to get stuck in online searches and never venture outside until it’s time to do a viewing. However, when we got to Seattle and found that every place we viewed was being rented up by the time we got our foot in the door for a visit, we realized that we needed to get more creative. The place that I live in now is the cheapest rent we found in the nicest neighborhood, with a month-to-month lease, and we found it by walking around and calling numbers we saw outside or on the side of buildings. You never know who has furnished apartments available or knows someone that does. Which leads me to my next tip…

3. It Never Hurts to Ask. 

Finding a Furnished apartment in Austin Texas

In Austin, housing was expensive and hard to find, especially for the downtown area which was where we wanted to live. In an act of desperation, we began asking anyone and everyone we could find about getting a furnished place, even realtors who claimed to rent out only unfurnished apartments. By doing this, we ended up meeting a really nice real estate agent who actually rented us his personal condo downtown, as he had just upgraded to a house on the edge of the city and found himself not using the condo very often anymore. The place was right near the Capitol building, super swanky, and ended up being decently cheap for what we got because the guy wasn’t even expecting to get a renter and was just happy to have the extra income. So ask questions! You never know what answers you’ll find.

4. Switch It Up with Furniture Rental. 

renting furniture in Phoenix

This is what we ended up doing in Phoenix. There were some decently affordable furnished apartments for rent, but many of them were in not-very-walkable places (important for me because I don’t have a car) and they were still a little bit out of our budget. In the end, we found a really nice gated apartment community with rent so cheap I almost cried when I saw the numbers. The catch was that if we needed it furnished, we could go through the furniture rental company they worked with. Doing this brought the cost of the apartment up to an affordable price, though not super cheap. Still, it was in our budget and very low for an already-furnished place.

While our apartment community worked with a specific rental company, there are loads of others in every city that will deliver and set up your rented furniture. The downside to renting furniture is that what you get is pretty generic, and I definitely felt like we were living in a hotel in Phoenix more than in any of the other apartments we’d lived in so far. Still, for the amount of money we saved, it was pretty great.

5. Furnish for Free on Craigslist.

Furnished apartment Seattle Washington

It was simply too impossible to find a furnished place in Seattle. When we had reached the point of living in a friend’s place a week longer than we had planned and the only woman whose furnished condo was still available was a total nutcase, we decided to do something different and find an unfurnished place. It may seem crazy – it certainly did to me at first – but we chose to furnish our place with free or very cheap stuff from Craigslist with the intention of selling it or giving it all away when we left. We actually found some really cool things – just check out my Pinterest board from when we were looking!

On moving day, all we had was a bed, a couch, and by accident a coffee table. From there we got sheets, a shower curtain, towels, a bath mat, and lamps from Good Will. We found two more lamps for the bedroom and bedside tables  for free on Craigslist. I collected a dining room table and 3 chairs on 3 separate occasions from street corners. My boyfriend showed up early for one woman who had a blanket covered in stuff, and that got us an extra comforter, pots, pans, silverware, dish ware, knives, a coffee maker and toaster, baking sheets, and even some spices.

Later during a Craigslist search, we were lucky to be the first to message a woman who was selling a 52-inch flat screen TV easily worth $800 for only $100. After that, the rest came easy. We ended up with side tables for the living room, a TV stand, a pristine floral couch from the 70s that pulls out into a bed, corner shelves, and even a free air conditioner (before the Pacific Northwest heat wave of course). Nearly all of this stuff was free, and the only thing we had to clean were comforters and one of the couches. Best of all, I feel like the stuff we have is really ours, so if we spill something or break a glass, I’m not panicking about what it will cost us later. Who knows, maybe by the end of it we’ll make a few dollars back. Otherwise we’ll be giving stuff away for free on Craigslist, FreeCycle, or through the Buy Nothing Project.

I won’t lie, finding a furnished place is a hassle. But it has also been quite the adventure thinking up new ways to get it done. If you have any questions about finding somewhere furnished, feel free to ask in a comment or private message me on the Cleaving Leaveland Facebook page! I’m an expert by now, but may have forgotten some things while writing out this post. Happy traveling!


One thought on “Finding a Furnished Apartment (or Furnishing One on a Budget)

  1. These tips are very helpful to me! I am moving soon and I didn’t know anything about furnished apartments. The tip “It never hurts to ask” makes a lot of sense to me, I will make sure to ask around! When we move I will keep these tips in mind. Thanks for the information!

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