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Finding a Bed

If you only have the money to buy one piece of furniture, you'll likely choose to get a mattress. You can balance dinner on your lap or eat it at the kitchen sink. You can lounge on the floor in front of the TV and forgo a couch. But the time you most need to be comfortable is when you're trying to fall asleep.

Unless you've got an expansive budget, though, you'll find that getting a place to sleep isn't so easy. Here's your guide to your best options. We've outlined both the plusses and negatives to help make your decision easier.

Using your bed from home

Upside: It's free and you know what you're getting.
Downside: Unless you were lucky enough to have a full mattress, you'll feel a little sheepish when you invite that special someone for a sleepover. Also, your parents may not let you have it, and, if you live far away, the cost of getting it to your current location may not be worth it.
Price: Free to around $600 to ship it.

Getting just a mattress and sleeping on the floor

Upside: If you know someone who's moving or upgrading, you can get a mattress for whatever it takes to get some friends to help you move it. Obtaining one from someone you know means it's less likely to have bugs or other surprises. You'll save money by not getting a frame—technically, this arrangement is identical to having a platform bed.
Downside: For many people, sleeping on the floor can cause an achy back (though we've heard that the problem is really that you just don't have the right mattress—try one made out of foam).
Price: Free to at least $230 for a new full mattress with shipping.

Buying used

Upside: A bed is a pain to move, so there are a lot of good deals out there. You'll get a real adult bed without paying top dollar.
Downside: You'll have to inspect the mattress carefully to make sure there are no bedbugs, and some people get creeped out by just thinking about what's been done on that mattress before they bought it. Also, unless you find a very kind seller who owns a truck, you'll have to make arrangements to move it yourself. This can add to the price significantly if you have to pay someone to help.
Price: Free if you're lucky enough to find something on the street, otherwise at least $30 for a basic bed to $2100 for something swanky.

Buying new

Upside: You won't have to worry about the quality, and sometimes companies will include delivery and assembly.
Downside: You'll pay for the convenience.
Price: $200 for a basic futon to thousands if you require the very best. Don't be afraid to bargain just because you're in a shop.


  • If you buy a futon, buy a mattress that's at least six inches thick. Flip and rotate the mattress once a month to keep it in the best condition.
  • If you buy a cheaper mattress, a foam mattress pad can do wonders for your comfort (though you'll feel like you're back in your dorm room). As a bonus, it will keep the mattress in pristine condition and increase the resale value.
  • Don't be too quick to go for the cheapest option—if you decide you can't bear it you'll end up spending more than you otherwise would when you get a replacement. Even if you know you'll have to get rid of the bed in a few years, the better it is the higher the resale value.

Elsewhere on the Web

How to: Make a Captain's Bed on the Cheap
Cheap Bed Substitute


Home Cheap Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to Cheap Decorating
First Home with Style
Compact Living


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