A Comparison Guide to Buying Furniture in the San Francisco Bay Area: Online vs. Local vs. Renting
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Move Bay Area note:
During the Bay Area's shelter-in-place orders during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's important to practice safety measures relating to social distancing. At this time, we recommend sticking to professional handling and delivery for your furniture needs.
Whether you’re relocating across the globe or moving locally, finding furniture to fit your new rental is the next step in creating a home for yourself. However, unless you are well-versed in interior design or have cash to burn, the process can present some challenges. For example, you may be asking yourself where to buy your furniture, what style do you choose, what does the delivery process look like, and most importantly, how much will this cost? This can be a daunting feat (especially if like most, you’re relocating here for a new job and actually, you know, have to work). So, let’s break it down into manageable steps so the experience is more enjoyable.
In addition to finding our clients their perfect apartment, we at Move Bay Area have also helped numerous people maximize their relocation stipend on furniture costs. So, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, here are some of our favorite (local and online) places to shop, and tips and tricks of the trade we’d like to share. Whether you’re an inexperienced designer and need your home furnished in one day or you’ve got an eye for design and seek to customize your new home over time, we hope you find our best practices below helpful. Furniture shopping in the Bay Area can actually be quite fun!
Step 1: Buy the Basics. (Overstock, IKEA)
Step 2: Don’t Forget the Mattress! (Purple, Casper, IKEA, Nest)
Step 3: Make your Place Unique. (Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist, Cost Plus World Market, Alameda Flea Market)
Step 4: Scrap it; Rent your Furniture. (Cort, Brook, Feather, Oliver Space)
Step 1: Buying the Basics. Start with purchasing the essential furniture for daily life: bed frames, dressers, and dining tables. One-stop shops provide convenience.
Don't forget - You can order online and ship furniture directly to your new home.
The Good: Overstock is a one-stop-shop for all of your furniture and household needs. You can buy furniture for every home in your room, including your kitchen! They have a wide selection of styles, offer great deals, and discounts and provide excellent customer service.
The Bad: Unfortunately, you won’t be able to view your items in person since they don’t have a brick-and-mortar showroom. The items also come disassembled so you’ll either have to hire a task rabbit or invite your friends to come help. Also, if you buy less than $50 worth, you’ll have to pay for shipping fees and that’s never fun. Keep in mind: Overstock is an online retailer for individuals with more experience, there’s A LOT to choose from and it can become overwhelming.
Pricing: Overstock is a large online marketplace so pricing will vary depending on the brand. However, they offer furniture at all price points so you’re sure to find items you like.
Shipping: Free shipping on orders over $50, but keep an eye out, sometimes they offer free shipping!
Check for online reviews to verify the quality of each piece of furniture.
Place a larger order to avoid shipping costs.
The Good: One-stop-shop! You can get all of your essentials and more in one marketplace either online or in-store. IKEA offers its shoppers a dedicated showroom (perfect for those who need design inspiration) on the second floor of every location, a large café with great food, and a large warehouse to pick up all your goods. Overall, IKEA is less expensive than many other furniture vendors, even if you pay for shipping and assembly.
The Bad: Items come unassembled so you have to put it together yourself unless you have roommates to help you out! You’re also limited to one or two styles of furniture.
Pricing: Affordable – you can find many different types of furniture and styles to fit all budgets.
Shipping: Free Shipping over $50 and you can also pay a team to assemble your items.
Location: There’s an IKEA showroom and warehouse in Emeryville (East Bay) and Palo Alto (Peninsula).
Take notes and photos of each piece of furniture you like. When exploring their showroom, there’s so much to look at that the line between what you need and what you want is often blurred!
IKEA has started a buy-back option. This is an ideal situation for expats and temporary stays, who likely won’t be keeping their furniture after a year or two.
Fun Fact: You are probably pronouncing IKEA wrong. Instead of emphasizing the first letter and saying "eye-kee-ah," the way the name was intended to be pronounced is apparently "ee-kay-uh.”
For those unable to be there for the coordination and delivery of their furniture, we’ve got you covered! Hiring a relocation consultant, like Move Bay Area, to coordinate all the logistics for you can help ease the tension and stress that comes along with the moving process.
Step 2. Don’t forget to buy your mattress! You spend a third of your life in bed, so don’t take this step lightly.
You can get a high-quality mattress from each of the companies here at affordable prices, and they all deliver. Be sure to do your own research because sleeping preferences differ but here is some general information.
Purple contains a proprietary gel grid. Try at showrooms, local Macy’s or Mattress Firms throughout the Bay Area. You ultimately have to purchase online.
Casper features multiple foam layers and a zoned construction. Try at Target or West Elm, and you can buy in-store.
They offer a selection of foam, latex-blend, and spring mattresses for the price-conscious shopper, and have the most affordable mattresses of the group here. Buy in-store or online.