Save some big bucks with this smart guide to kitting out student accommodation

An estimated 200,000 South Africans will be starting their studies at one our 26 public universities in January. Most will remain based at home but many will be in university residences or rented digs and will need to furnish their accommodation.

Estelle Nagel of Gumtree SA offers key advice on how to go about this.

Furnishing student accommodation can be a very expensive and time-consuming process but it doesn’t need to be.  If you plan properly and buy good quality, previously-owned goods online, you can set yourself up cheaply and quickly. Buying new items is completely unnecessary for a student lifestyle and often a waste of money (as much as R10,000 per student can be saved).

Varsity res spaces are usually small and often come with some furnishings. Make sure you have checked the room dimensions, and what’s already in place, before you buy anything.  Also check out the communal areas where you may find things like a microwave available for your use. Once you know what you need, and the size it can be, then get online and look for good local deals.

Rented digs usually are communal spaces so you need to co-ordinate with your digs’ mates. Check the lease carefully for what is already provided (or maybe left behind unwanted by the previous tenants) and then see what anyone can contribute from home. Draw up separate lists for your own requirements (your bedroom) and for the communal needs (kitchen/eating area/lounge). For the latter, you will need an agreed budget among you all – check the Gumtree prices for a good guide to ensure you have a realistic amount of money set aside.

Don’t over-commit in the first buying phase – get what’s essential and then add later if you need.

Collection and/or delivery can be a hassle. If possible, arrange for collection of all your purchases on the same day and do one run to save petrol money and time. If there are larger furniture items involved, rent a cheap bakkie or a trailer (both can be found on Gumtree services) and do it all in one go.

Give it a lift. It’s amazing what splash of colour or a lick of fresh paint can do. Set aside some time to paint your purchases or clean them up with sandpaper or metal polish.

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