We aren’t yet finished furnishing our new home, but we’re getting close! Today I want to share with you what we bought, and how much we paid for each item. Initially I was shying away from sharing these details, but then I thought about those who would find it helpful to have hard figures to work with in estimating costs of used furniture in Israel, and general comments about ‘finding a good deal here’ or ‘much cheaper in America’ aren’t super helpful.
To get an idea of what we’d have to expect to pay for used furniture, I casually skimmed an excellent website called yad2 for about three months before moving – this is the Israeli equivalent of Craigs List, and it’s very, very helpful. The one caveat is that it’s in Hebrew. When I first looked at it, I couldn’t figure out how to use it, but once I did, I loved it!
One challenge when buying used furniture and not having a vehicle is you have to figure out how you’re going to get your purchase home. It took us almost two weeks to find a solution for this, and I’ll share what we paid for each item as well as how much we paid for delivery. Because we weren’t able to do this from the start, we ended up buying some things from a second hand store because he offered delivery, something I generally avoid.
In the US, our kids shared bedrooms, with two bunk beds in each bedroom (ie four children in a room), and one child sharing a third bedroom with the inventory from my nursing pillow business. When I talked to them about what kind of beds to buy, all of the older kids said they didn’t want bunk beds. When you get older it’s not fun or cool to climb up, and they wanted the open space above their heads rather than another bed. I still wanted to use the space well and have extra sleeping space for guests or possibly future children, so the below is what made all of us happy.
For the first girls’ bedroom, we bought matching twin beds with spring mattresses. Each bed has an additional bed frame (but not an additional mattress) that can be pulled out, in addition to two large storage drawers the size of the bed. We went to buy these with the intent that they’d be for dh and I, but when dh got there and saw the color of the drawers below (in the one picture I had seen they weren’t visible), he decided to go ahead with the purchase but that they’d be better for the girls. Dd15 and dd10 share this room and are very pleased with it.
Dh traveled to Akko to buy these beds, and paid 1000 shekels for both (they were asking 600 each but we got a lowered price since we bought both). We paid an additional 200 shekels for delivery. They are each 80 cm wide.
Now you can see the bed that pulls out
This is the four door closet for the girls’ room. The previous tenants had originally offered to sell this to us for 1000 shekels; I offered 500, which I felt was reasonable based on my yad2 browsing. They ended up leaving it behind after taking it apart and realizing it was too much work to get it down the spiral staircase from the upper bedroom. They told us they were leaving this (and some other items upstairs that were equally cumbersome to get downstairs) in exchange for the paint they should have paid for. It’s not exactly free but I think of it as if it was.
The next bedroom is our guest room that dd16 likes to call her room. I’m holding out on calling it hers as a matter of principle.
Four door clothing closet with four drawers at bottom
This closet was one of several purchases we made at the second hand store a few days after arriving. His prices were high (900 for an old fashioned 5 door closet), but when I asked about this closet, he said it was 400 shekels. I asked him why the difference in price between a 5 and 4 door closet, and he told me this was an old style. Lucky for me he didn’t recognize that this is a much newer and more popular color, and the other is about 25 years old! He’s at least 75 years old, so that probably accounts for his perception. He told me other things were ‘brand new’ when it was obvious to me they had been in style 20+ years before. His prices included delivery.
This next bed took a while to find, since I was trying to find something that matched the wood of the closet we had already purchased. (It’s not easy trying to match furniture just by the online pictures in the ads, since lighting affects the accuracy of the picture!) It’s easier to first buy the bed and then match the closet to it, but we bought what we did in the order that we found things.
This has an additional pullout bed, and two huge storage drawers (width and depth of bed) that also pull out. The bed is 80 cm wide. We bought this in Moran for 700 shekels, and paid 100 shekels for delivery.
Same bed with additional bed pulled out
On to the boys’ bedrooms.
Littles' bunk bed
This is one of the things we bought at the second hand store on a second trip. The price and quality were actually decent, but it doesn’t look as good as what I usually look for (you can see the stickers on it which the littles actually were excited about!). It’s all wood, and is 70 cm wide – there are three standard twin sizes in Israel (70, 80, 90), and 70 is called a youth size bed. If you measure a standard American twin, you’ll begin to see how buying Israeli furniture allows you to use the space much better. If we had US twin mattresses, we’d lose a lot of the floor space in between the beds and the closets, and the rooms would be much more crowded.
This was 700 shekels.
With additional bed for ds2 pulled out below
Below this bed is a pull out storage drawer (narrower than the beds), and I had the seller throw in an extra mattress. I was ideally looking for a bunk bed that had a pullout bed and storage box included, but this is what I found, so I improvised. The storage box is only 60 cm wide, but I cut down the foam mattress mattress to size, then resewed the mattress cover all around so it fits perfectly now. I plan to replace this with a pullout that is 70 cm and to use the drawer for storage, since due to the narrowness I consider it a short term solution for ds2. The delivery was supposed to be included, but the store owner called me when they were on the way and said he had made a mistake in calculating the prices, so he told me to pay the delivery guys 100 shekels when they got there, and he would also pay them 100 shekels.
Five door closet for boys
Across from the bunk beds is a five door closet that all of the boys share. I measured the space in each bedroom and got the largest closet I could in order to maximize storage space. The boys’ bedrooms are upstairs and due to the slant of the ceiling that starts at about 5’8″ high on one side of the room, this is the only space in the two rooms where we could put a full size clothing closet without blocking windows. Our ceilings are high and you can see it goes almost to the top, so there’s loads of space.
We bought this from someone in Haifa, and paid 600 shekels. Combined delivery with the fridge we bought the same evening was 550 shekels – the price was higher than usual because the closet had to be dismantled, and a refrigerator is a more expensive item to move.
Now the older boys’ room, shared by ds9 and ds12.
Second boy's bed (note additional bed peeking out at left corner)
This is a bed I bought at the same time as the bunk bed, because the wood colors matched perfectly and I got it for a reasonable price.
This bed has an additional bed that pulls out from underneath, and the drawer from the bunk bed actually goes to this bed, which is where it will be returned to when I replace the pullout bed of the bunk. I’m considering cutting the legs on this pullout bed down so it will fit under the bunk. It was a little rickety when we got it but dh strengthened it with a few well placed braces and now it’s very sturdy. 300 shekels.
Boy's bed with three storage drawers and additional pullout bed (not shown)
Across from the above bed is this one. This has three pullout storage drawers that are the width and depth of the bed, and an additional pullout bed. I didn’t bother taking a picture of that since you can probably figure out how it works by now! The pullout of this bed is what ds18 will use when he comes home.
I bought this in Haifa, and paid 500 shekels for the bed (he was asking 600), and 300 for delivery (delivery also included a stop at Kiryat Motzkin, to pick up most of dd16’s belongings that she had left there over the summer). This bed also took some effort to find since I was trying for a close match of the first bed, which was difficult since the newer beds are a different shade. It’s not perfect but it’s quite close and the room looks nice.
There’s also a small two door cabinet with two shelves and two drawers that was also left behind by the previous tenant that is a perfect match to the above bed that’s in this room. This allows the older two boys to keep a nice amount of their things in their room, though the closet is really just a few steps away.
Now back downstairs to the salon (living room/dining room).
Dining room set with eight chairs
Finding a suitable dining room set wasn’t easy. Most sets have just 6 chairs, so I was trying to match up different dining room sets from totally different areas, just by looking at the pictures online, so that we’d have twelve chairs. I was trying to keep in my mind over two hundred sets and went back and forth between sets, looking at the wood shades, counting the wood backing strips of the chairs to get a close match…I was getting a big headache from this. Since the sets were sold with tables and chairs, I would end up with two tables, and I planned to put one table in the kitchen, though I didn’t really want more than one table, total.
Finally, I decided to just look for one with eight chairs, and to supplement with folding or stacking chairs as needed. There weren’t many sets available that had eight chairs, and when combined with the size table I was looking for and the price range I wanted to stay in, it took some looking. I was pleased when I came across this set, which is solid wood and very well made.
We bought this in Kfar Tavor, and it was 2000 shekels. We paid 200 shekels for delivery of this, which included delivery of the oven the same evening. I was pleasantly surprised when dh got home to see how heavy the table and chairs were. There are two leaves of half a meter each that are added to each end (not pictured), which brings the table to a total length of 2.9 meters, large enough to comfortably seat 12. We can manage to fit around here for regular dinners without putting the leaves in, by seating two people at each end.
Couch on left
We bought our couches from the second hand store on our first trip there. Ds18 was with us and thought they looked decent, and since at that time we had no furniture, I expected the other kids to be excited when the couches arrived since we’d finally have a place to sit and relax. They hated them! Dd16 even told me they’re so ugly that she’ll be embarrassed to bring her friends over; I won’t share the more graphic comments about how ugly they were. It’s more of a European style (which makes sense, since they were made in Italy), but they prefer American style couches. They aren’t perfect, but I think they’re nice. And the kids have gotten used to them by now. (Sorry the picture isn’t so good; I took it for an intended post to show you the set up of the apartment.)
It’s a set of three couches, medium brown leather with solid wood frames. In the picture you can see the big couch on the left; in the foreground is the edge of the matching chair, and across from that is a loveseat. The way this second hand place is, things are stacked on top of one another and you can’t fully see what you’re getting, unless you insist that the owner take out every single item, which isn’t such a small thing to ask. I asked him to take down the loveseat for me, and sat on it to see how comfortable it was; it looked good. The two larger couches were in fine condition, but the matching chair looks significantly more used, which I didn’t realize until they arrived. They were 900 shekels.
On to the kitchen. I already wrote about the challenges of our fridge and stove, but these problems actually were the catalyst for a much better working solution for our appliances. So I’m really glad that we didn’t have things that worked okay to start with, since we would have settled for them and it would have continually crimped my ability to function effectively in the kitchen.
After trying to use the standard size Israeli stove that was left behind (which only had one rack that was kashered), I realized that part of the problem we were having, is that we cook such large quantities that we simply needed something bigger. I had planned initially to keep this stove and make do, but this realization got me thinking in a different direction.
I was up late one evening when I saw this oven come up for sale, and though I hadn’t specifically been looking for something like this, as soon as I saw it I knew that’s what would be perfect for our needs. But I didn’t know if it would still be available by the time I was able to call about it in the morning.
This is the space intended for the fridge and the oven
I’ve rarely seen ovens this large for sale second hand, probably because Israeli kitchens aren’t sized to allow for something this large; it is 90 cm wide. But when looking at the space in my kitchen, I realized I could put the oven where the fridge and oven were supposed to be, and then put the fridge across from that where the table would be (if we had one).
I was delighted when I learned it was available, then less delighted when I learned that although he advertised it being in Karmiel, it was actually located in a different town. (This was only the second item I was buying directly from a seller, and I wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea of paying someone to travel there to get it, regardless of if I’d end up getting it or not. I got used to buying something based on skimpy pictures followed by a phone conversation with the seller, rather than seeing it in person, pretty quickly.) After speaking to him, I decided to send dh together with the delivery guy to go buy it. Dd15 and dd16 had been very frustrated when trying to cook for Shabbos, and I didn’t mention to them that we were getting this, since I wanted to surprise them when it arrived. They love it and so do I! Cooking for our family got so much simpler with this purchase, and though it was more money than I could have gotten a perfectly good stove for, I feel it was a very, very worthwhile purchase and an effective use of our kitchen space.
And we did get an excellent price – we bought it from a seller in Rakefet for 1000 shekels. As I mentioned above, we paid 200 shekels delivery including the dining room set.
Finally, our fridge.
Our wonderful new fridge
I’ll detail in another post how I decided on this model, but this has a good capacity (I think 568 liters, but I might be wrong on that) and I liked the setup of it. The seller was asking 1900 shekels, and said he was slightly flexible on the price, so we paid 1800. I know, not exactly major savings. This is lots more than I initially planned to pay for a fridge (my original budget was 1000 shekels), but after our first fridge fiasco that ended up costing us 1400 shekels, I decided to get something newer that would hopefully last us for a long time. The delivery cost was listed above, 550 shekels for this and the five door closet.
If you’re wondering what we’re doing with the old fridge, I found a solution!
An expensive 'lemon', but a decent cooler
The fridge itself actually looks nice (unlike the first one, which was not a bit attractive), but the fridge part is like a cooler and the freezer part is like a fridge. I decided to keep it to store the fresh fruits and vegetables in, which I buy in such large quantity each week that I really don’t have room in one fridge. Before this I couldn’t buy enough in one trip to last for a week. This also works well since it’s not opened as often as a regular fridge, so it keep the cold better than it did when we needed to open it often. It’s next to the good fridge, in the kitchen, in the space that would have accomodated a kitchen table.
I didn’t take a picture of our washing machine, which I think is the only thing left. We paid 900 shekels at the used furniture place, which was too much and I knew that when I bought it, but I needed something and I hadn’t yet figured out a way to buy directly from sellers. Thank G-d it works and as long as it continues to work, it will be fine. At the point in the (I hope, distant) future that I need to replace it, I’ll look for a ten kg model. This is supposedly a 7 kg model, but I say supposedly because that’s what I wanted so that’s what the seller said it was. I can’t find it written anywhere to say how much it actually holds, and since the veracity of his words has been repeatedly been shown to be questionable, I’m not assuming in this case he actually said the truth.
We still need to buy beds for dh and I, a clothing closet for our room, and eventually will need some bookshelves when the twelve boxes of books we’re sending on someone’s lift will arrive. You might be getting caught up in how much more cheaply all of these things could be purchased in the US, and you’d be right. But when you take into account how much it would cost to ship the items here, it changes the picture quite a lot.
These were all good buys, but if just getting basic furniture was my goal, I could have spent much less. For example, someone offered us a free, wobbly table, and someone else offered us a fridge that doesn’t seal well. That could have been fine. However, this was my chance to furnish our home, and I was willing to spend more to get what I wanted and felt good about, while staying in my budget. If I would have gotten things given to me, or bought very cheaply, the total spent would have been less but my home would be mismatched; I would have ended up keeping it because it basically worked even if it didn’t look great. I’m a visual person and seeing nice looking things around me makes me happy, and seeing things that look junky doesn’t bring a smile to my face. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I want what I buy to be good quality and hold up for many years to come. To me, bring frugal doesn’t mean that you do without things that are important to you because you must get everything for the least possible amount of money, but is more about having the quality of life you want within the financial constraints of your budget.
Even so, you can see that the total (if you’re doing the math), though not small, even including the extra delivery costs, is still far less than the approximately $6000 to send a 20 foot lift, or $10,000 (36,000 shekels) to send a 40 foot lift (which is the size that would be big enough to have brought all the things we needed to buy). (And I would have had to buy furniture to bring with us on a lift, so we had to take that into account, as well!)
We’re really happy to have bought the furniture we did here; not only was it a more affordable option, but equally important, it uses the space well and the apartment feels nice and spacious!