You just moved into your new place in Berlin and you want to make the place more confortable as soon as possible but your budget is limited? No problem! Berlin is just the right place when it comes to finding furniture at bargain prices all year round.
Besides Ikea, which would anyway be on everyone’s list in such cases, although not everything one finds there is very cheap, there are other ways to get your hands on some much needed pieces of furniture for lower prices, even for free.
If you want to purchase something new, another store to go to would be Thomas Philllips, which is specialized in selling Sonderposten or items left on stock from former seasons at reduced prices. The quality of the products is usually high and the prices range, although for the given brands these will be lower than if you go to any other retailer. Alternatively you could buy the items online, if there is no subsidiary in your area.
Of course, there are a few other well known large retailers on this market segment, such as: Höffner, Baumarkt, Hellweg etc.
If on the other hand, buying second-hand isn’t something that repulses you, then the amount of money you give out in the end to arrange your place creatively will be close to nothing.
One recommendation would be to go for a walk in your neighbourhood and pay special attention to the front of buildings or the garbage disposal. It happens very often that people who either move out or simply change their furniture, will leave the old one (which does not necessary mean that it is used up) for anyone who needs it to pick it up. Be on the look-out for ads posted by people who are moving out: they will generally sell their belongings (anything from dishes to stools to household devices) for next to nothing and some might be open to bargaining. Some people have even managed to furnish a room completely and also accessorize it from one seller who was moving somewhere else and wished to simply get rid of all that was not needed anymore.
Another recommendation would be to check the “Kleinanzeigen” on eBay. If you want to get something for free look at the “Zu verscheken & Tauschen” section, otherwise check the “Haus & Garten” one. There are many offers posted every day, so the likelihood to find something convenient is quite high. For those who don’t speak German at all, Craigslist will probably be more suited, although there are not as many offers posted here as on eBay. There are many other sites which publish ads for items to be given away for free (simply type in „zu verschenken” in Google and you will find out).
There is also a Yahoo group dedicated to this activity: Freecycle Berlin. Here you can look through the ads posted by people who would like to give something away or post a message yourself stating what it is you need. A drawback is that you have to check it regularly and contact the people right away, otherwise the item might already have been put aside for someone who was faster.
If all else fails, hit the Flohmarkts in Berlin early on Sunday morning or before they close. The one at Mauerpark is one of the most popular, so it would be best if you went there in the early hours, because it gets excessively crowded later on. Another popular destination is the one organised at Boxhagener Platz, although the prices here are rather high. For lower prices go to the Flohmarkt at Biesdorf, which is open every two weeks so be sure to check beforehand. There is a wide variety of Flohmarkts to suit all tastes and budgets. Try to visit at least 3-4 of them, instead of trying to purchase everything from only one place.
I am certain there many other recommendations for this situation. These are only the ones I have tried out myself or have heard of from friends. The offer is very diverse, so don’t despair if the place you moved in does not have all you need to live, because that will be easily and cheaply be sorted out with some perseverance and patience. Good luck with your search!