Combining Households (aka Adventures in Craigslist)

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Dueling sofas.

When my partner moved in, we basically had duplicate households. He had been in the US for about 7 years at that point, and I had been here for 11. So! We had duplicate everything: 2x tables, 2x chairs, 2x couches, 2x beds, 2x TVs, 2x cars, 2000x misc cables, and so on. My condo was a mess when the movers first dropped off his stuff! (He himself arrived about a week later.)

We had to figure out what to keep, and what to get rid of. Neither of us have super nice things – think IKEA and Target. But it was still fun because we got to pick and choose the best of our stuff, so it felt like a free upgrade. At some point, we probably do want to upgrade to nicer versions of some things: namely, cushion-y things like our couch and mattress, where I feel that higher prices really can correlate to better comfort. But for now, we’ll make do with IKEA ๐Ÿ™‚

After we decided what to keep, we had to figure out how to get rid of everything else. I’d been a pretty regular Craigslist user in my past (student) life, so I figured I’d try Craigslist first, and donate the overflow to the Salvation Army. (Although donation might’ve been a better choice from the start, since we don’t really need the money, and it would’ve saved time. I guess old Craigslist habits die hard.) In any case, this was the first time that I’d tried Craigslist out here in a less populated area (rather than urban areas like NYC / NJ), and it was definitely way more challenging.

1) Couch

I had aย IKEA Karlstad, and my partner had a larger IKEA Kivik with the chaise attached. We decided to keep the Kivik because of the chaise. If you don’t have a chaise (the long daybed thing), get one! They’re sooo comfy. Actually, don’t get one, because it leads to many accidental naps.

Original cost: $500 ($400 couch + $100 shipping)
Sold for: $150
Owned for: 2 years
Depreciation: $175 / year
Comments: Ouch! My sofa was only 2 years old, but what can you do. I had to sit somewhere for 2 years, right? The couch sold fairly quickly, which surprised me, because the buyer had to bring a UHaul, which entails a level of commitment not usually found in Craigslist buyers.

2) TV

In my past experience with Craigslist, electronics tend to get snapped up right away. Maybe because they’re “easy” upgrades, and portable? Surprisingly, though, the Samsung TV was the most difficult to sell. I posted it for weeks before it finally got sold.

One of the issues that people had was that it wasn’t a “Smart TV” with the built-in apps for Netflix, Hulu, etc. I usually just hook up my computer to make it extra smart, but I guess people prefer having this functionality baked in.

I even tried this new-fangled Facebook Marketplace, and my main impression is DON’T USE IT. I gotย way more random queries through Facebook Marketplace – about half of them were the default “Is this item still available?” auto-reply. And about a quarter of the queries were in Spanish! This really confused me… bilingualism is great, but my name is very Chinese, so I don’t know why on earth people thought messaging me in Spanish would make sense.

So in conclusion, Craigslist buyers tend to be more dedicated (although there are still flakes), because they actually have to pick up the phone and text/call you, rather than hitting an auto-reply Facebook message.

Original cost: $600
Sold for: $125
Owned for: 6 years
Depreciation: $80/year
Comments: Just glad to get rid of this thing, finally! Surprisingly difficult to sell.

3) Table

My partner had this nice IKEA drop-down table, and I had a larger pine table. We kept the larger one.

Original cost: $130
Sold for: $50
Owned for: 2 years
Depreciation: $40/year
Comments: The buyer was a nice lady and her partner who were moving in together. I also gave them a free side table.

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His and hers cars. Note the lush green Garden State background. Also note the side-eye.

4) To Sell: Car

This is the last big-ticket item on this list, and we haven’t actually sold it yet, because we’re still arguing about whether to be a two-car or a one-car household. I’ve probably been reading too many personal finance blogs where cars are somewhat looked down on, but I’m all for selling one of them. Both of us work at the same place and typically bike to work, so we really only use the car for groceries and weekend roadtrips. Honestly, I haven’t even checked on my car in a few weeks (it’s parked in a different place), so hope it’s still there :/

My partner’s argument is that we might need a second car in certain special cases, like if family comes to visit. My argument is that for those scenarios, we can rent a second car.

We agreed to compromise by waiting for a while and seeing how many times need both cars. So far, count = 1 (that day, he drove to work, and I drove to the doctor’s office). So we are probably moving ahead with selling one of the cars.

Original cost: $5300 + $2500 in repairs over the years
Estimated selling price: $3000 to a private party, $1500 to a dealer
Owned for: 6 years
Depreciation: $800/year
Comments: I’ve sold a lot of things on Craigslist, but I’m kind of wary of doing a big-ticket item like a car. I might go to the dealer to see what they’ll offer me, which will definitely be lower, but remove the hassle of finding a reliable buyer.

Some things we kept

There were also a few things that my partner and I didn’t agree on de-duplicating, and ended up keeping or finding another use for. I’m all for de-cluttering (got swept up in the Marie Kondo craze like the rest of the world), but sometimes two is better than one, right?

Bed: We kept the extra bed and put it in the second bedroom / office. I use it for naps sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

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How many shampoos and acne cleansers do you need?

Toiletries:ย I know this sounds like a minor thing, but how many bottles of acne cleanser and shampoo do you need in the shower simultaneously? We have 2x acne cleanser and 2x dandruff shampoo, and that’s on top of regular body wash and shampoo (not shown). I asked my partner what is the difference between them, and he said some are extra strength and some aren’t. I really wanted to put some of these under the sink as reserves, but OK. They’re bottles in a shower, I’m probably being OCD on this one ๐Ÿ˜›

Camping equipment: We had about 5 sleeping bags and 2 tents. I wanted to donate these (when will our family ever be 5 people and require all those sleeping bags?), but my partner wanted to keep them, since they were new and in great condition. In the end, we did find a use for them: naptime in the office! Lol! We put two of the sleeping bags in my partner’s office, because he is teaching an early class this quarter and probably won’t be productive for the rest of the day unless he catches a quick nap afterwards. One of the perks of being a prof and having your own office, I suppose. I may also be guilty of office naptime…

Which things would you keep two of, and which would you get rid of? How do you manage de-cluttering with your partner or roommate? Any crazy Craigslist stories?

10 thoughts on “Combining Households (aka Adventures in Craigslist)

  1. I just bought a couch so this is very top of mind! When I moved in with my husband, it was easy: the only furniture I had was a desk and a bed (I lived with roommates previously). With that said, he still had to do some massive decluttering and I had a little bit too much fun selling a bunch of his stuff on Craigslist ๐Ÿ™‚ It came to a point where I tried to sell anything that wasn’t chained down…

    We did have one nightmare scenario where we sold something and the guy kept cancelling at the last minute to come pick it up. Finally, after the fourth time, he showed up. That was the last straw, though.

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    • Haha, I was a decluttering fanatic when my partner moved in. I knew if we didn’t get it down right away, the boxes would stay there forever! My partner definitely thought I was crazy for selling all the extra stuff, but hey, what were we going to do with it anyway? He was even joking that I was going to sell the duplicate shower bottles ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sometimes I do think the smaller stuff isn’t worth selling (I went through a phase where I sold a bunch of clothes on eBay and it was definitely not worth the time), but the bigger items like furniture are totally worth it.

      I really liked your couch on Instagram! Our Ikea couch is a little too squishy for our tastes and resulting in contorted laptop typing positions ๐Ÿ˜‰ so we might upgrade sooner rather than later.

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  2. Is that a Vibe I see? KEEP IT! Vibes are such great cars – super reliable! I just moved in with my boyfriend and a LOT of things are still in boxes. I’ve gotten rid of some things (still sitting in my Vibe lol) but honestly need to get rid of more. He’s been great about having more stuff but really…. we don’t need it all.

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    • Yes it is! I love my Vibe, as it’s my first car. But it’s been having some transmission issues and poor mileage recently (at 125k miles). My partner’s car, on the other hand, is a Toyota Corolla which basically sips gas. If only Tesla could figure out how to duplicate it, green car technology would be solved ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck with the downsizing!

      PS: I’m a relatively new listener to your podcast (within the past month or so) but I’m loving it so far! I really like the diversity of opinions and viewpoints from your guests, which makes it stand out from the rest of the pack. Keep it up!

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  3. Happily, K and I didn’t need to do much decluttering when we moved in together (though I would be absolutely thrilled if he let me declutter his things – I derive a certain joy from decluttering for its own sake).

    Technically, though, I’d already done my big rounds a decluttering a few months before when I moved out of student housing and we’d already decided to move in together by then. I probably decluttered more aggressively because I knew ahead of time that things like my bedframe and my dining table would be redundant, though my student furniture was so cheap (Walmart’s cheapest, which I know from experience tends to be a noticeable step below most of what’s at Ikea) that I’d have decided to get rid of it anyway, as it wasn’t worth the cost or the trouble of moving it somewhere to store it for a summer, even if I had a friend with extra space in their apartment to store it for free (which is a huge ask that I wouldn’t do for furniture of that quality). It was very easy to declutter by giving it away to other students, and they saved me the time and effort of moving my items out to the curb.

    I was pretty happy when K decided to use the same facial cleanser as me. I don’t think we’ll be able to optimize the number of items stored in the shower any further though!

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    • I loved decluttering S’s stuff too! I actually wrote about it in my original draft of this post, but I thought it was too weird and took it out ๐Ÿ˜›

      Summer storage is so tough. I have many bad, sweaty memories of pushing bins of possessions across NYC streets to self-storage, when I was doing summer internships elsewhere. My main thing is I want someone to be using it, so putting things on the curb (in well populated areas) or giving things to students feels good. And I’ve definitely taken advantage of that when I was a student. Some of our furniture now is still leftover from that era.

      S uses the same facial cleanser, but we don’t agree on facial moisturizer, and his breaks me out (which is weird, because it’s CeraVe which is supposed to be super gentle). Although he barely uses it, so maybe he wouldn’t notice if I just swapped it out, hehe…

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  4. When my boyfriend and I moved in together, it was into a house with another couple who were well-settled. Neither of us had much furnitureโ€”I was coming off a string of shared rentals, and just had to sell a sofa; he’d just had a stint at home. Our big thing was desks, as we’re still both students: it was a bit nerve-wracking going over whether we could both work in our room, whether one person might end up at the dining table, etc. Luckily our room was big and both our old desks ended up fitting in the weird layout. Here’s hoping that we don’t encounter this problem too many more times…

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    • That’s great that you didn’t have to shuffle around too many things when moving in! Yeah, desks are tough. One of my couple-friends in university had their living room basically consumed by desks (computer monitor + working space, x 2). We have multiple horizontal work spaces in our condo (dining table, desk in the second bedroom), but for some reason S prefers beds and couches, whereas I usually take the table, so it works out for us. But having more than one room is definitely nice (for personal space too, lol). Hope it works out for you!

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  5. Haha, I love this post! When I moved into my boyfriend’s place a year ago, I was the one that got rid of furniture because I had all the Ikea stuff and he had bought his first house with actual adult furniture. I had such a hard time selling stuff! I was able to get rid of my couch in Utah, but I’m one of *those people* and we rented a larger truck (same price) so I could bring the rest of my furniture and sell it in Idaho. It still took quite a while to sell my things, and I of course had some flakes. I think I put everything on the Facebook Marketplace, though, just because it felt safer. But OMG some of those messages. I got one in Spanish, too! I didn’t know how to respond and I think my boyfriend used Google Translate to communicate, lol. It was strange. I actually still get twinges of sadness when I think about how I don’t have my bed (I loved my bed, but it was a twin, and my boyfriend already had a queen guest bed). There’s actually a couple more things I need to get rid of so they will probably end up being donated. There’s some things I think my boyfriend should get rid of, too, but I’m waiting for him to do it…but not going to lie, it’s fun to do it myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can’t really talk, thoughโ€”I’m still trying to unpack and organize almost a year later. I should probably be getting rid of more things!!

    P.S. My boyfriend sold his car on Craigslist (I think; he also had it listed on NextDoor). I was super terrified for him to sell it through CL, but a really nice family contacted him and it all worked out great in the end. He got probably $2k more than what the dealer would have given him. I read an article/blog post with tips for selling your car on CL and it definitely helped (although he didn’t really follow all of the tips, haha).

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    • Haha, my partner totally moved all his stuff here to sell too! (the moving costs were covered by his employer though). He left a bunch of stuff for his subletter to use too. Aww that’s cute that you miss your old furniture ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess some stuff has memories based on where you got it / how long you’ve had it. I feel kinda emotionally attached to my car, since it was my first car and I’ve had it since I was a student and bought it with my own money.

      Interesting that you had some similar experiences with some of the messages! I think some people don’t read the ads at all, lol because probably the second-most common question I got was “how much is it?”. Haha it drove me crazy but it feels so good once it’s all done ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck with unpacking! I knew we had to get it done right away or it would drag out forever… I definitely had to push my partner to help, and also just did a bunch of it myself (with his permission, lol).

      I’ll have to check out NextDoor! There are such a range of people on Craigslist – I once sold an old fridge, and I had a really nice family come by and get it. They were really picky but also super reliable and kind. I hope someone like that will come for the car. Or if I could find a nice student to give it to, that would be great too.

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