It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of an open house – your future home has been dolled up to sweep you off your feet, and real estate agents are waiting on you hand and foot with glasses of rosé. When the keys are handed over, however, you’re a lot more likely to be greeted by blank walls and naked floorboards.
First home buyers are often blindsided by the cost of furnishing a home from scratch. There are always going to be more things to buy than you plan for, because who remembers to budget for a TV stand?
Naturally, the best way to prepare for furnishing your first home is to make it part of your budget in the first place. Always keep a part of that nest egg aside, because there are all sorts of costs involved with buying a house outside of the deposit. Having a plan and bucketing your money could help you stay on track with your savings goals.
The next best option is to strip back the styling costs as much as possible. Contrary to what reality TV would have you believe, good interior design can be affordable – you just have to be willing to invest some time and elbow grease.
First things first, make sure you bring as much with you as possible from your previous residence. If you’re moving out of your parents’ home, chances are you won’t have a lot of furniture of your own. But as tempting as it is to start afresh, your bank balance will thank you for keeping the crappy bookshelf from your student share house.
Next up, buy secondhand. The whole thrift store, retro-chic thing is very much in vogue, and you can literally save thousands doing this. There’s so many options – garage sales, op-shops, Facebook Marketplace… Plus, chances are as soon as you announce your plans to move, your DMs will be filled with family and friends trying to pawn their used goods off on you. Just make sure you inspect the wares before you commit.
Don’t be afraid to go for items that look like they’ve been in a war zone, either. As long as it’s structurally sound, pretty much any chair, table or wardrobe can be spruced up with some sandpaper and a lick of paint. ‘Upcycling’ is so popular that there are people out there doing up damaged goods to turn a tidy profit.
When you do decide to buy new, make sure you work out a sensible budget and stick to it. Keep it cheap, and keep it basic. With cash burning a hole in your pocket, there are plenty of unnecessary and expensive things you could buy, but that does not mean you should. After all, you might not want to keep those bits and pieces from IKEA or Kmart for generations to come, but they’ll certainly help you hang on til you’re back in the black.
And finally, prioritise your purchases based on what will make the biggest difference to your quality of life. A mattress, for example, is kind of a gross thing to buy used, and worth the investment if it can literally help you sleep at night. A slightly wonky coffee table will be a minor annoyance, but a toaster that blows up after five uses will be worse.
Furniture is just one of many extra little first home budget pressures, so if you’re already balking, it might be a good idea to consult Bankwest’s first home buyer’s guide.
Find out how else Bankwest could help you settle into your first home.