More Than the Degree

How to Furnish your Student Apartment Low Budget

As you may already know, most of the rentable student apartments in Finland come unfurnished, no matter if it’s a studio apartment or a room in a shared apartment. Therefore, as a new student, you will have to go through the challenge of furnishing your empty room in the first weeks of your stay. It can be frustrating and exhausting, you might feel lost and it can cost a lot, but don’t worry!

Here I will give you all the necessary tips on how to get a cozy and well-furnished room on a budget and without stressing too much!

What to buy

To make this process as smooth and efficient as possible, the first thing you should do is make a clear list of what you need to buy, taking out the thing you already have in the apartment (usually almost nothing).

  • Order the articles by priority, so as to focus on buying first for example the mattress, bed and pillows and later a mirror, a bedside table or decorations.
  • Be rational about what you really need and what you can avoid buying. For example, I avoided buying a desk since I have a huge table in the living room and there are tons of places where to study on campus!
  • Take into consideration buying objects that make the house homier and create a good atmosphere. Some examples are plants, soft and warm lights, decorations and pictures of things and people you love.

A very rough list of important things you might need at the beginning is:

  • Mattress and bed frame (Prioritise the mattress for sleeping the first days, then you will find the right bed frame)
  • Pillows
  • Blinds (Especially if you live on the first floor or you arrive during the Finnish summer with its light nights)
  • Ceiling light (often already in the apartment)
  • Kitchenware (cutlery, pans and pots in order to be able to cook and eat at home)
  • Chair
  • Wardrobe
  • Desk

Where to buy

In Finland, especially in Helsinki, there I many ways to buy second-hand furniture that will help you save some money. Here are some ideas:

  • Telegram groups. In particular, I used a lot:

“Giving away free stuff - otaniemi”

“Otaniemi buy/sell”

  • Your building. Try asking neighbors or directly on the group chat of your building if you have one. It is more convenient for the transportation of the furniture and you can make connections and friends that live just next to you! Sometimes tenants also leave some furniture in the common spaces when they are moving out. Just make sure they are free to take.
  • Recycling centres. There are many in Helsinki metropolitan area. In particular, the closest to campus, in Otaniemi, is located in Servin Maijan tie 6 D. You can find many more by googling “kierrätyskeskus”.
  • Second-hand online websites. There are many but the most commons are:

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook groups in general

How to buy

  • Consider the measurements. Measure your room before going shopping and bring the measuring tape with you. When you buy online, ask for the precise measurements before buying furniture and ask also for the weight if you have to carry the object home.
  • Share the list of objects you need on the buying platforms like the Telegram groups, when possible. In this way, if anyone is selling what you need they will contact you directly.
  • Don’t hold on. Buy the things you need at the beginning, even if they are not perfect. You will have a chance to change them and improve your room, but if you find a good-priced object you need at the beginning, it’s better to have one than none!
  • Sometimes carrying the furniture home can be tricky. Try asking friends, colleagues or flatmates that have a car. If you don’t have any, rely on moving services or if you have a driving license you can rent a van yourself. For example, I used

When to buy

  • Try organising the pick up of your mattress or bed before your arrival, so you will not need to sleep on the ground or on an inflatable bed the first night!

  • The best moment to buy second-hand furniture from students is the end and the beginning of months since most of the housing contracts are ending in that period. This is when you will find the best offers from people that just want to get rid of the furniture before leaving.
  • Pay attention to offers also during the month. In Helsinki, there is a lot of students and people are moving out all the time.
  • Anytime you are free, scroll in the second-hand pages, who knows when you can find a good bargain! You can also turn on the notification for example on the Telegram groups but it can be annoying since they are very active 24/7.

In conclusion, don’t forget to have fun! Create your own space, have patience and you will find good bargains. Change your furniture until you are satisfied. Your house and room are evolving projects and they will change with you during your experience in Finland!

- Francesco, First year Master's student at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Francesco's student apartment.
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