Worry not, for furnishings can be had for discounted rates with these ValuePenguin-researched strategies.
1. Take It with You
Finding a way to recycle your current chairs, tables and cabinets is the most affordable option out there. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that furniture accounts for more than 4% of household waste, which adds up to 9.8 million tons left at curbs every year. If you have older yet versatile pieces of furniture, consider ways to take them with you, whether that's by repainting or repairing.
If some of your current furniture is too big to easily remove from your old place, or move into your new one, services such as Dr. Sofa will disassemble it, transport it in pieces and reassemble it in your new home. For expensive furniture, particularly, the extra cost of this service may be less than your losses were you to simply leave the items behind and have to buy replacements.
2. Buy Used, Online or Off
Online classifieds like Craigslist (or, for the more sophisticated and stylish, Chairish) allow consumer-to-consumer sales, often at much lower prices than showroom discounts. On Craigslist particularly, you'll find deals on sellers' previously used Ikea furniture, which can be disassembled and rebuilt at lower cost than buying it new from the Swedish retailer.
Craigslist also allows you to post "Want" ads, but don't stop there. Use your social media feeds, from Facebook to LivingSocial, to announce to your friends and family that you're in the market for in-good-shape furniture. There's no shame in taking a nice antique hand-me-down from your aunt and uncle.
The benefit of buying from one of your neighbors, or someone you can drive to, is that you can see and touch the furniture you'll be buying as opposing to purchasing it blindly from an online retailer like Overstock.com, Big Lots or Amazon. (If you end up buying such a piece from someone you don't know, ask for its brand name and model number to compare it with the newer version online.)
If you prefer shopping offline altogether, consider flea markets and garage, estate or stoop sales. It's also a safe bet to browse your local thrift shops, which can range in quality, from Goodwill and The Salvation Army to high-luxury consignment stores.
If paying for used furniture breaks your budget, you may find furniture for free through Freecycle.org and the ReUseIt Network, two community-oriented online platforms that turn one person's excess furniture into another's new living room.
3. Get Discounts from Big-box Stores
When you change your address using the U.S. Postal Service's online portal, you'll likely be emailed discounts from the likes of Lowe's, Home Depot and Target. Each of these big-box stores offer new chairs and tables, for example, at a typically lower cost than a specialized furniture store. They should also offer free or lower-priced rates for shipping or delivery.
Some of these big-name store discounts, which your real estate agent may also have access to, will force you to visit the brick-and-mortars. If driving to shop is an option, consider visiting some warehouse stores as well since their prices may be lower than regular furniture shops.
4. Time Your Shopping at Your Local Retailer
Like car dealerships, your local furniture retailer — whether it's Jennifer's Convertibles or a mom-and-pop shop — will offer sales on secondary American holidays, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day or President's Day Weekend. If you're in the market for a customized but still reasonably-priced sofa (maybe you want to choose the fabric and add a sleeper option), and are flexible on when you buy it, consider delaying your purchase until the next such “holiday sales event.” Retailers also have sales during the month before new models are released, typically during the winter and summer, to clear out old inventory before the new stock hits the showroom floor.
While surveying the showroom floor, also recall that lesser known brands in more basic colors (gray, black, white, for example) are likely to come cheaper than trendier names and brighter hues. Once you've found the piece you'd like to take home, ask the salesperson if he or she can offer a better price. Alternatively, a scratched-up floor model, or a piece stashed in the store's "Clearance" section, may offer the best value of all.
5. Take DIY to an Extreme
Making a piece of furniture will almost always be more economical than buying one. Of course, it will also be more time-intensive. For the handy creatives among you, consider turning two-by-fours into tables using good old-fashioned research (try YouTube) and, probably, trial and error.