A tight budget shouldn’t prevent you from making your new place feel like home. Furnishing a property can be pricey, but if you’re savvy, you can get everything from plants, fridges and couches for free.

Happily, there are plenty of ways to get furniture and other home essentials for next-to-nothing. A growing number of websites list unwanted possessions and can be a goldmine for freebies if you’re trying to furnish your new home.

Here’s a quick roundup of some options:

Check out Facebook Marketplace (and your local Buy Nothing group)

Facebook Marketplace is a great spot to pick up furniture and other items locally. Of course, some pieces may come with a price tag, but there’s plenty on offer for nothing – just search the word ‘free’. People moving house or doing a renovation will be keen to offload items for less, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for new listings or setting alerts for things you need.

Buy Nothing groups have taken off and are a great spot to find unwanted items, provided you’re happy to pick them up. Consider signing up for the group in your suburb to see what’s on offer.

You never know what you might find!

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Check out niche Facebook furniture groups

No luck finding furniture on Facebook Marketplace? Don’t despair. Try joining a freebie group in your area on Facebook. You might be able to find these groups by searching keywords like ‘free furniture’ along with your suburb or general location. Once you’ve found the group, you might need to answer some basic questions to have your membership request approved.

Before you join a group, carefully read any group rules set out by the group admin. Other freebie search terms worth trying include ‘Buy, Sell, Swap,’ ‘Free stuff,’ ‘Trash and Treasure’, and ‘Waste Not Want Not’. 

Search for items on Gumtree and eBay

This is a great website for finding furniture. You’ll find a wide selection of unwanted items on your neighbourhood’s ‘freebies’ section of Gumtree. Get enquiring fast!

There’s also eBay. People will happily offer items without a reserve, which means they’re keen to offload things for a low price to anyone willing to take them. Make sure you check what you’re looking at (especially items like fridges and televisions) to ensure they’re in working order first.

If you’re in VIC or NSW, try Ziilch

Another good spot to find free items is Ziilch. This free community-driven website is currently only available to people in Victoria and New South Wales but allows people to give away things they don’t want. To use Ziilch, enter the name of your suburb. You’ll need to sign up to request an item from a listing, but membership is free.

Check out web communities like Freecycle

Freecycle is a cool little non-profit web movement where people list goods on offer in your local area. The idea here is that these items aren’t thrown out and sent to landfill – they want to ensure the items are recycled for future use. Search for your location on Freecycle and sign up for updates on what’s on offer in your area.

Don’t ignore a good verge collection

City councils across Australia offer free verge collections. They help people dispose of unwanted items that aren’t always suitable for general waste or recycle bins. Try looking for collections in good suburbs, and you’ll stumble across various furniture, appliances, rugs, plant pots, sports gear and more.

Some council areas now request that residents book in a specific day for their collection. In other cities, the verge collection is an annual or bi-annual service held on a specific week. Check out your local council website for more information on what to expect for your area.

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Seek out garage sales

Garage sales won’t usually be free, but you may be able to score a great bargain on furniture, especially if you stop by the sale late in the day. By the end of the garage sale, sellers are often willing to drop prices or give things away for free. Keep your eyes out for signs over the weekend, or consider joining the Garage Sale Trail each year.

When in doubt, check out your local op shops

You might not find free furniture at your local Vinnies or Salvos, but these shops are a fantastic place to find used furniture at a very affordable price. They’re often in excellent condition, too, because donated furniture can’t be broken, stained or torn. Plus, you’re doing good. The money you spend typically goes towards helping charities like the Salvation Army and St Vincent De Paul. 

Top pick-up tips

  • Check listings regularly – and be patient. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the items you want immediately. Most sites put the newest listings at the top, which can help you search through new pieces.
  • Always meet up with the person in public, preferably in daylight if you can. Avoid going into someone’s house – arrange to meet them on the street outside their house or in a busy, safe place.
  • Take someone with you when collecting an item. If it’s heavy, there’s all the more reason to have an extra set of hands.
  • Avoid giving out too much personal information. If you’re arranging a collection from a person through an app like Facebook or eBay, you can communicate through the messaging service.
  • Some groups like Buy Nothing appreciate you building up a profile and trust amongst the group by occasionally offering your items up for free. They don’t need to be anything special, but you’re building community. It’s not essential, but it’s part of the process.
  • Be quick! Items move fast online. We suggest contacting the seller straight away if you can arrange a time to pick up or inspect.
  • Be clear about when you can pick your items up – and try your best to be punctual or communicate with the seller if your situation changes.

Rent.com.au is Australia's largest company dedicated to renters and is owned and operated by ASX-listed Rent.com.au Limited (RNT:ASX). For over 15 years, Rent.com.au has exclusively focused on making renters' lives easier by making it easier to find a property, secure it, move in and pay rent.