Moving from a furnished pad to an unfurnished place can seem overwhelming. Furnishing your first apartment in St. Pete takes a lot of work, and a lot of money! Of course, there are plenty of ways to furnish your apartment without breaking the bank, and I'll give you a rundown of some options I've used.
First of all, tell people that you are looking for furniture for your new St. Pete apartment. People are always getting rid of furniture. Whether they are upgrading to nicer stuff and getting rid of their current set, or just trying to clear out a storage unit full of unused stuff, you probably know some people looking to get rid of their stuff. Depending on how well you know them, you can score free or super cheap things by buying from people you know. An added bonus here is that you know where the furniture has been – and if there were pets, smoking, or parties in the house. Older relatives are especially good in this department – their things are probably in great shape, and if they are older pieces, they will last a long time (probably much long than you will be living in your St. Pete apartment).
Once you've gotten all the stuff you can from people you know, you must branch out. Used furniture stores are your next step. Smaller, less-known charity stores will generally have the best deals – and there are some great ones in the Tampa Bay area). Larger, chain discount stores will be more expensive, but still much cheaper than buying new things. These stores are good places to find end tables, lamps, kitchen tables, chairs, and often, couches. For wooden items like chairs and tables, look more at the build and shape of the item than the aesthetics. You can easily sand and repaint or stain something that doesn't look terribly nice. After you fix it up, it will look just as nice a new piece of furniture, and you'll have the satisfaction of having done it yourself.
Once you've looked at used furniture, consider checking out Craigslist to furnish your St. Pete apartment. The Tampa area Craigslist is incredibly active. People give away tons of furniture under the free category every day. I've seen really nice couches, tables, desks, chairs, pianos, televisions, and even beds that people give away. Of course, with free stuff, you have to act quickly, especially things labeled as “curb alert” – they get snatched up fast. It helps if you have a vehicle (or a friend with a vehicle) large enough to move furniture. You can also look in the “furniture” category and find just about anything you might ever need for your new place. Most things are priced reasonably. Some things are not, but most sellers are willing to be flexible on the price. Most people who sell on Craigslist are more interested in getting rid of stuff than making money.
A note of caution when buying items for your St. Pete apartment from people you don't know: anything that has fabric, like couches or beds, can be something you want to think twice when buying from someone you don't know. Bedbugs are a real problem (and not one you want to deal with), and anything that has fabric or stuffing may have them. Use your own judgment when buying anything secondhand.
If you want to buy some items that are new, stores that cater to college students often have tons of “back to college” things in August and September. These items will not be made to last, but they will be functional and cheap. They are perfectly fine for furnishing your first apartment – no one really comes over expecting it to look like it belongs on HGTV. The most important thing to remember is to make your St. Pete apartment a place where you feel at home. As long as you feel comfortable, everyone who visits will as well.