Furnishing a rented property can be eye-wateringly expensive – but if you’re canny, you may get everything from sofas, fridges and plants for free.
There’s a growing number of giveaway websites that list unwanted possessions, and that can be a goldmine for freebies if you’re on the hunt to furnish a new home.
Here’s a round-up of some options.
Freecycle and Freegle
Web communities such as Freecycle and Freegle list masses of goods on offer in your local area. The idea is that these items aren’t then chucked out and sent to landfill, recycling them for future use to a grateful new owner.
The people listing the goods might, for example, simply need to free up some space, or not have the time or the inclination to sell them. After all, getting rid of a large item such as an unwanted fridge can be a hassle – you may even have to pay to have someone come and take it away. But this way, you can easily free up space, and make someone else’s day.
They are simple to use. Search for your particular location on both Freecycle and Freegle, and sign up to post requests or receive updates of what’s on offer in your area. It’s easy to search, too, if there’s a particular item you’re in need of. Both sites have the same aim – to help people give and get things for free in their local community, with people dealing directly with each other.
You can sign up to receive offers from Freecycle via email. It may be worth setting up a separate account for this purpose so all messages go to one place, and you can easily keep track of what’s on offer.
You may also want to download the Freegle phone app – or there’s the Trash Nothing app, which enables you to check out all local recycling groups for anything you might need.
Gumtree and eBay
You can also find a wide selection of unwanted items listed on the ‘freebies’ section of classified site Gumtree for your local area, with plenty of furniture also on offer. Gumtree is most popular in London – although it has an extensive network. Beware that any decent freebies will have tons of people after them, as the site has millions of users.
Then again, there’s always eBay, where people also offer items without a reserve which may mean they're keen to offload the goods for a very low price to anyone who’s willing to take them. Beware that this may include broken items, though, so check that whatever you’re looking at – a fridge, or TV, for example – is in working order first.
Facebook groups and marketplace
A booming number of facebook groups have popped up over recent years, where plenty of people advertise unwanted items in your local area – provided you’re able to pick them up.
It’s worth signing up to local groups such as those aimed at local mums (even if you’re not a mum) and seeing what’s on offer.
They have become so popular that Facebook has launched its own marketplace, where you can find furniture and other items locally.
Some items will be listed with a price tag, but there are plenty on offer for free if, say, somebody’s moving house, or doing a house renovation.
You never know what you may find, and you can easily search on Facebook if you are looking for freebies.
Preloved and Freeloved
Searchable by furniture type, it has beds, sofas, lighting, curtains - pretty much anything you might need to furnish a home - up for grabs.
If you want to declutter, you can advertise items for free and for £5 a year, you can upgrade your account to get extra benefits like responding to adverts as soon as they are placed.
A haven of neighbourhood gossip, Nextdoor is also a treasure trove for free goods.
People post about jumble sales and when they’re giving away free furniture nearby. You can browse by category (for example furniture, appliances or electronics) or simply type in 'free sofa' or whatever you're looking for and you'll see a list of items pop up ready for you to contact the owner and arrange a collection.
You can’t hop around neighbourhoods, though. According to the website, every neighbour has to verify their address and use their real name. But it’s one of the neatest free local furniture apps out there.
Office message boards
With many of us working across apps like Slack and Teams to connect with our colleagues, it could be worth setting up a new 'Freebies' channel, where team mates can post images of things they no longer need and others can help them along with the decluttering process.
That old sofa you're desperate to get rid of could be someone's dream kids' den solution.
- It's always best to take someone with you when collecting an item as a precaution. If it's heavy, all the more reason to have an extra set of hands to help you lift it into your car.
- Always meet in public, in daylight hours if you can, and arrange to meet someone on the street outside of their house or in a busy safe place.
- You don't need to give out any of your personal information. If you're arranging a collection from a person through an app (like facebook Marketplace or eBay), you don’t even have to give them your number. You can communicate through the app's messaging service.
- You’ll ideally want to build your profile and trust among sharing communities by also offering goods for sale or for free. This isn’t essential, but some groups will insist you do this as part of the process. The items don’t need to be anything special – a pile of old magazines will do, and somebody is likely to want them.
- Be quick – items go fast on these sites - and be clear on when you can pick the item up.