You realize that the internet is an insanely cool thing, right? We can read the news, watch TV shows, interact with our friends, store documents in the cloud.
The cloud: a place where you can put something for storage and then retrieve it later, wherever you are. It’s pretty cool, especially if you use a device with limited storage or just don’t want to have to remember to email yourself particular documents. Of course, it only works for things that are digital.
That’s where Craigslist comes in. I read a blog post that described Craigslist as being the cloud for physical objects and realized that’s exactly how I use it.
When I move, I sell whatever furniture I have on Craigslist. Then, when I get to my next destination, I grab whatever I need off of Craigslist, usually for about the same price as I sold the old things for. Sell a couch for $100, drive a thousand miles, buy a couch for $100. It’s way cheaper and easier than paying to move the thing!
Just about anything your heart desires can be found on Craigslist (including very sketchy things), although I usually use it primarily for furniture and occasional side gigs. In addition to standard safety precautions (don’t go to strange people’s houses alone, and don’t invite them to yours), this is my strategy for finding quality on Craigslist:
- Know what you want, what you need, and what you don’t care about. When I was looking for a couch about six months ago, I knew I wanted something that was a solid color, preferably grey or off-white. I didn’t care if it was a little scratched up. I didn’t want stuffing falling out or broken legs or anything.
- Make sure the price is realistic and reasonable. $100-$150 for a decent couch is a reasonable expectation. $20 is not – if someone is offering a couch for $20 there is probably something seriously wrong with it, so make sure you know what that is and if you’re willing to deal with it. Some people will try to sell you theirs for $1000 – do your research and make sure it’s not something that you could get for $1100 new.
- Be patient. Chances are that what you’re looking for won’t be available the second you look for it. That’s okay – you don’t need a dining room table or a couch or anything the day you move in. You’re going to live with this furniture for a while, so eat at the counter for a week or two until what you want shows up.
- Be obsessive. This is the most important. There are gems on Craigslist, but they go fast. Once you know what you want, check that section of Craigslist at least once a day. I checked every day for three weeks before someone finally posted the kind of living room chair I was looking for. Plus, if you check regularly, you’ll know a good deal when you see one.
- Be ready to jump. When something you want shows up, contact the poster immediately. Use correct grammar and punctuation – it indicates that you are a reasonable person who will probably show up when you agree to with the money you say you will. Be ready to pick up the item within a day or two: people selling on Craigslist are usually pretty eager to get an item out of their house.
I’ve bought a lot of fairly nice things off of Craigslist, and later sold them for the same amount of money, sometimes even more. You can often find furniture that’s a way better quality than Target or Walmart for much less.
Do you buy and sell things on Craigslist? Do you have any other advice for getting the most out of the site?