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Doesn’t matter if you decide to ship your household to Australia or arrive with just a suitcase, after finding your first apartment in Sydney you will need to, at the very least, buy the basics to set up a house.

But how do you do this on a budget?

This Topic Comes Directly from a Sydney Moving Guide Reader

“We are now in Sydney for three weeks but only staying in temporary accommodation. However, thanks to your apartment finding tip, we have managed to secure a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in Strathfield. And now, my worrying starts regarding buying stuff for our new place.

I am writing to you to ask if you have any guide on where to buy furniture and other appliances for our unfurnished apartment at reasonable prices? Perhaps this can also be a good topic in your blog.”

We Didn't Budget for Furnishing Our First Apartment in Sydney

This email took me all the way back to 2008 when we first arrived in Sydney.

Our first two weeks were consumed with finding an apartment in a very competitive rental market which neither of us had any experience with previously. Finding our first place in Sydney was such a relief that we completely forgot about practical things like having something to sleep on or cook with until our shipment arrived.

While we did budget for the big move to Australia, what we didn’t count on was paying more for rent than we had planned. Like $100 a week more.

The check we handed over to the real estate agent was a big chunk of our savings and left us with very little until that first paycheck arrived on the 15th of the month.

That very first night in our new Sydney apartment was not fun, sleeping directly on the floor with clothes folded up as a pillow. Not something I recommend.

It only took one night for us to both agree that it was time to bust out the emergency credit card and go shopping.

Hopefully, you’re wiser than we were. And, hopefully, you’ll come across this post so that you will not be sleeping on the floor of your first apartment in Sydney.

Below I’ve listed secondhand, online, and physical stores in Sydney. Most will be budget options, but some will not because when it comes to certain items, like mattresses or larger pieces of furniture, sofas, and such, you want to find that sweet spot between what you can afford for the best quality.

Where to Shop for Your First Apartment in Sydney and Not Break the Bank

Second Hand Stores in Sydney

The Salvation Army (aka Salvos) and St. Vinnies are the two main second hand stores in Sydney. Similar to the Goodwill or Value Village in the States.Most of the stores in Sydney do not have furniture, but you can find other things like sheets, towels, dishes, cutlery and pots and pans.

The most popular place in Australia to buy second hand homewares and furniture is Gumtree, the Craigslist of Australia.There is one problem with shopping for furniture or appliances on Gumtree, no one delivers.

To get around this, many SMG readers have joined a car share in Sydney, such as GoGet, then reserve a van or ute and do all their Gumtree pickups at once. This is a good option especially if you are thinking of living car-free in Sydney for the first few years. A car-share lets you get around the city easily and you don't have to worry about gas or insurance or any of the other hassles that come with owning a car.

Note: Do not take a car share out on a lengthy road trip. It will end up costing you way more than a rental car.

Cheap Online Options

There are some discount online stores that will deliver directly to your new place. Nice for things that you only need temporarily as the quality is not great but perfect in a pinch if you're waiting for you shipment to arrive. (Though I have lucked out with a dining room set from OO.com.au that has lasted quite awhile.)

Online Homewares That are Better Quality

Zanui – Definitely a step up in both price and quality.

Brosa Furniture – Love the style of the furniture here but the prices are steep. Once in a while, you can score on mid-year sales but you need to be quick as they sell out fast.

Other Furniture & Homeware Shops in Sydney

Ikea – This is probably most new expats first stop for homewares because, well, it's Ikea and has everything for prices that won't make you cringe. There are two locations in Sydney and they will deliver for a fee.

Freedom Furniture – There is a store located right in the CBD. Freedom has pretty much everything you need expect pots and pans and better quality kitchen items.

Supra Center at Moore Park – A shopping centre with only stores that carry household items from dirt cheap, Fantastic Furniture, to high end.

Outlet Malls in Sydney

There are two outlet malls in Sydney that have homeware shops, Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) and Birkenhead Point.

Where to Buy Appliances, TV, Audio and Electronics

You will need to purchase appliances for your new apartment in Sydney. Most apartments are rented without a fridge or washer/dryer.

You can find these things on Gumtree, but again most people selling on Gumtree do not deliver, and moving a fridge is not an easy task.

Appliances Online – This is my first choice. They are located in Sydney and delivery for items in stock can be scheduled for the next day if you order before the daily cutoff. The site has a good selection and they have good customer service.

Betta Home Living – Is a good option for purchasing online. The prices are competitive and they often have seasonal sales. The best part is they have free delivery.

Other stores in the city for appliances are: Harvey Norman, and Bing Lee.

Restocking Your Kitchen

I am a kitchen gadget addict. No seriously, it's almost to the point of needing an intervention.

That being said, restocking our kitchen in Sydney was more of a chore than I would have thought. We start out with just paper plates and plastic cutlery since we were waiting on our shipment but after a week the pretend picnic feeling was over and I gave in for real plates and a new set of cutlery that I actually now like more than what we shipment.

Most likely you will be needing kitchen items asap.

Here's a list of physical stores in Sydney to checking out.

Victoria's Basement – Bottom level of the Queen Victoria Building. A great place for dishes, knives, pots and pans and, yes, kitchen gadgets.

Kmart – A large size store at Bondi Junction.

Target – Also located at Bondi Junction. I should point out that Target in Australia is not the same as Target in the States. Still worth checking out.

Woolworths – The Town Hall location has some cheap homewares on the upper levels and it's located right in the city next to the train so an easy stop on the way home from work.

Online options for the kitchen items you don't need asap.

House – Also has two physical locations in Sydney, one close to the University of Sydney and University of Technology. House has good prices and everything you could possibly want or need.

Kitchen Style – An Australian based store with good customer service, not something you often get with other online stores.

International Moving Companies Near You

What are you taking to Australia when you move? Do you know yet?

The truth is you don’t need to know right now, for sure, what’s going with you.

But you do have to get a shipping quote ASAP, especially now.

Why? Because international moving companies need to schedule your move to Australia far in advance, some ask for 6 months in advance. Yes, COVID has changed everything, including international shipping.

When filling out the form below…

  1. You don’t need a street address for where you’re moving to, only the city and country. What they really want to know is the main shipping port.
  2. Moving date is an estimate. You don’t need exact dates right now. Go with your best guess.
  3. Estimate volume is an estimate. Don’t bother with calculating your volume. Use one of the estimates below for your estimated volume.
    • Studio or 1 Bedroom —> 20 m3
    • 2 Bedroom —> 25 m3
    • 3 Bedroom —> 30 m3
    • 4 Bedroom or 3 Bedroom + Car —> 50 m3
  4. Use your “real” contact details for BOTH phone and email. Yes, the form is secure. If you don’t use your real contact details, then they can’t get in touch with you for your quote. Makes sense, right?