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  • Sarah

How We Furnished Our New Place(In Lockdown)

I really, really, love. a. good. deal. Not in the most cheapo sense because getting something like 2 for 1 at a supermarket or using a discount coupon for a meal doesn't feel as gratifying as finding an uncommon item, in decent quality, selling at an incredibly affordable price. Like-shit-you-kidding-me kind of price and that looks amaaazing-i-want-it, at the right price.

This post is on how we've furnished our new place with deals scored on FB marketplace, but more so, my discovered addiction for it and what makes me a #gooddealhunter. Perhaps brought about by our tight budget, inability to hit the mall, and need to get our place up and running in a week, before we find ourselves ON DA STREETZX.

Little did I know I would be entering a whole new arena of online shopping, dealing with other 'good deal hunters' in a race for - yes, good deals. Found myself in the race and shamelessly, addicted. I would be scrolling for hours and doing that the first thing I woke. Did it pay off? Let's find out:

  1. The Island

We knew the new place needed an island. There's not enough countertop space for Chef Gabe's prep and the house looks extremely bare without a centrepiece to start the flow. Reminder here's what we're working with:

So, island-hunting it was. There were so many customisable pieces offered by 'tradies' who obviously own their craft but starting prices were hefty and it would take time to have measurements, concept and any actual work started (lockdown rem). Probably not a good idea meeting with randos as well. So, like the creepy listening ear of my iPhone, FB marketplace started showing up with the very common ikea islands here. We didn't fancy any in particular but a need's a need and this looked presentable:

We haven't thought very much about its color or design, or even how we were going to get it transported to us when I closed the deal at $400, realising it came with two bar stools and its chair pads when it was delivered. Woohoo, score!

That was awesome because it turns out, each bar stool cost $89 and it's chair pad is an additional $8 meaning each chair is worth $97. The island of course is still retailing in stores here for $599.

Price listed: $450

Deal hunted price: $400

Transport costs: $99 (total newbies at fb marketplace and transport service, Airtasker)

Actual worth: $793

Final price paid: $499

Item condition: 8.5/10 (chairs were practically new, the only problem we found was a couple of scratches on the lower shelf of the island)

2. Dining Set + 'Concrete' Side Table

Up until we found this dining set, we didn't know if we'd actually have a dining area. Thinking the island could double up as that, we put dining as low priority. BUT, God probably thought we'd be silly not to have one, and this came through:

What? A round side table for dining? Story is, I thought this looked good for its' price, and after getting Gabe's approval (it's a very quick exchange through whatsapp, "you like?" "i like!") he found that the seller had also listed his dining table + 4 chairs for $50 (or $80 whichever say whuttt).

That's me in the blue speech bubble, gearing up for good-deal-nego.

This seller was so generous, I didn't even have to work my online charm. Probably won't work on this guy too 'cus he seems to swing the other way. So, we scored this! Plus its practically-free side table.

Price listed: $65 (estimated price for dining set) + $20 (side table) = $85

Deal hunted price: $50

Transport costs: FOC (made two trips to retrieve it but worth it)

Estimated worth: $919 (ikea table retailing at $299 here and these 4 mid-century chairs look like they could fetch about $150 each based on the research found online, and will keep side table to its original price of $20)

Final price paid: $50

Item condition: 8/10 (some scruff marks but all good for secondhand, chairs and table are sturdy, nothing is broken and only needed a good scrub down)

3. The Coffee Table

This was a fun one, there are numerous good options and decent prices to select from on FB marketplace so how did we end up with this one? I've shortlisted two, and Gabe went ahead to confirm the oak one for $150. Not baddd for a newbie dealer.

Price listed: $200

Deal hunted price: $150 (which on hindsight now feels like a lot, but this was one of our first few deals and really, it's such a great solid oak piece! did i mention that i like oak now? it used to always be walnut)

Transport costs: FOC

Actual worth: $500-600 (guesstimate)

Final price paid: $150

Item condition: 8/10 (some watermarks and scratches on the lower shelf)

4. Bedside Tables

Now this I really do not love, but it was somewhat essential was cheap. $25 for 2 bedside tables, that's $12.50 a table! Did I negotiate it down? Cos not! I'm not THATTT cheap. Hehe. Although I would now, if given the opportunity. You learn a lot as you go...

5. Lamps

Went in search of a floor lamp, something that would give this space dimension but instead, we landed these two really sweet glass lamps at such a steal! Inspired by this globe floor lamp (on the right image) I saw, these were a good match. Could easily retail for $80 each, because it's branded (i found out), and its concrete base is quite weighty.

6. Rugs

This place was definitely going to need rugs. Not only do we have to cover these tasteless tiles, we were in the midst of winter and it was essential to add some much needed warmth and major character to things! Challenge was finding 'brand new' rugs online, knowing Aussies probably wear shoes on it, like they do their entire house. So we got lucky with this one, claiming to be brand new. It has a tag on it, and we just had to trust our instincts / feet when stepping on it. Also, grown to appreciate rugs & carpets so much more after going through so many. Don't you think they look like art on the floor? If I were rich, rugs will be something I'd splurge on. Note to future-if-ever rich self.

Managed to friendly-nego my way through the kilim rug for $200, and better yet enjoyed a $50 discount thanks to my friend Ally's thoughtful birthday gift card, making that purchase only $150. Kept to the already reasonably low price of $20 for the other rug because here is when you'd consider if it's worth negotiating. Looking at size, condition, the time taken to nego and the risk of losing out to another equally gooddealhunter who knows a good deal when they see one is something to be conscious (and cautious) of.

I swear to score a good deal, you need quick reflexes, nego skills and online charm. Proud to say I’ve developed some of those skills accumulated from being an online seller/buyer for nearly a decade. Omg should this be added to my resume?! Turns out you can furnish an entirely new place on a budget with some of those skills. I've also got a carousel track record of 5.0 (out of 5) from over 160 reviewers, making me a proven buyer/seller deal-snagging-cheapo!

7. Plants, Pots, Yard Stuff

This purchase made me very, very happy. Without which would feel like a missing piece from setting up in the new place.

Didn't feel right to bargain this down but we didn't expect Airtasker to cost $80, which is almost the cost of what you're paying for the items there. But if you look at it in totality, of course $180 for that above is still a good deal (Airtasker said it looks like $400 worth), and would be sick to pass up because we'd love to get started with those items in our yard! After a few weeks, we or I, didn't see the value in the big plant. It wasn't a plant I could have feelings for, and the extra pots just felt redundant so we sold them for $50 which is great recovery dollars!

I got these 7 plants (one free), in their pots, as it is shown above for $110. I think they could come up to an easy $350-$450 considering their species, condition and pots. A feel-good deal indeed!

8. Other Items (decorative)

Shopping for these ones are easier and less competitive, perhaps it's a matter of taste and home style. There are many items I love but know wouldn't match this place. From FB marketplace, we've managed to get a free bin and an A1 sized photo frame, a flower vase with fake flowers (epps) for $5, mirror for $10, a towel ladder for $15, and everyone we've met in-person and online has been polite, friendly and wonderful to us so far. #BLESSED

We've also 'flipped' some items for a small profit or recovered dollars just by doing that. For example with, The Island 2.0.

9. The Island 2.0

The island 2.0 is our newest, BEST purchase of the new place, so far. It just arrived yesterday and we're loving it. I was lekking around the marketplace and literally STUMBLED (i think i fell off my chair) on this listing.

Hellyeah! Doesn't matter that we already have an island that's well setup and comfortable. What matters is locking this deal right before the other crocs attack! It's quite disgusting to say, but time is truly of the essence here. A slow "I like!" from Gabe could result in no Kitchen Island and 4 Bar Stools. It's happened before. Which I'll talk about in my next bullet point on 'missed deals'. So,

Price listed: $300

Deal hunted price: $275 (this was unexpected! simply asked if she'd be willing to give a little discount for the speedy confirmation and she proposed it, naiiise.)

Transport costs: $60 (we're smarter this time, and Gabe now has A GUY)

Actual worth: $500 (a price i'd propose listing at, avg cost per stool is $45)

Final price paid: $335

Item condition: 9/10 (chairs and shelves are in great working condition)

Like I said, you learn to get better and quicker at these things.

10. Missed Deals (hate and cry myself to sleep)

I'd be lying if I said i didn't feel the pinch of "losing out" on a good deal. It's just crazy to like something so much (also because of its price-factor) that you feel like you've missed out. I think that's what is so dangerous about FB marketplace and how it becomes addictive. You just want to be "first" to secure an item, to get the best out of a deal and feel good.

Missed deals:

They really are missed deals because all of these items were 'handmade', likely one of its kind and sold at such a good price. I'd always say a mini congratulations to the person who was able to score those items, and keep an eye out for when they might list it again in hopes that it doesn't fit their intended space. Hehe.

It's so ugly if you think about it, and honestly, if there's anything I've learnt from this, is that everyone loves a good deal, me especially.

I liken it to the same joy when someone completes an Ikea hack or refurbish an old piece of furniture and marks it up selling off to a dumb buyer (that is me) for a good price. To me, the good price makes sense because the item is a) rare, b) in good shape (newly refurbished) and c) a good price.

Thought I’d put it out here so when I read back years down, I can still feel somewhat pleased (or disgusted) with myself, and unless the market changes and suddenly $50 for a dining set is considered expensive...we'd have this to remember.

But seriously, if there’s anything I’ve learnt, it really puts money and the value of items, into context. Things we put a price tag on, does it justify? Like the Crate & Barrel bar cabinet back home, that doesn’t look right anymore with the price we paid.

Purchasing items in Singapore is expensive. People are generally stingy (want to gain more than give) and less willing to give items out for free. Carrying a mentality that “nothing in the world is free, where got free one?” I've dealt with Singaporean buyers who wouldn't let up even a dollar discount. We're not even talking low-ballers.

Singaporeans feeel they deserve to get something back in return. Is it because we feel we don’t have Enough? This reminds me of the Scarcity vs Abundance mindset. The typical Singaporean mindset has been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality, and in general, I don't think we're generous OR polite and friendly. I've met buyers who'd take/hand me an item without so much as a word of thanks or hi. These are some of the noticeable differences shopping online here that I've experienced and Singaporeans - we're sad.

We all love to own beautiful things, but at what price would you pay for those things?

The only things I think are worth paying for now, are the things that "require" being new for hygiene and comfort purposes. Such as a king size bed and mattress, linen sheets, sofa, rugs, shoe cabinet and okay, The Serif.

Everything else really should just be, recycled, upcycled, shared, and best of all, given. For free. It would make someone’s day to feel they scored a good deal. And isn’t that good enough knowing?

Hoping I'd do this when we leave here, and again when we return to Singapore, where we have to make space for the “new” items we're taking home.

Signing out,


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