how to buy things off craigslist in other states

5 tips for navigating the site like a pro.

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Photography by MERRELL JAMES

by Erica Reitman 

Craigslist and I are so tight, I’ve taken to calling it “the Craig.” “Did you check on the Craig?” or “this couch is amazing, but I can’t buy it before consulting the Craig” are things that now regularly come out in everyday conversations. In fact, Craigslist and I have actually taken our relationship to the next level: I now buy things on Craigslist in other states! Here’s everything you need to know about Craigslist shopping–anywhere.

search for a very specific piece of furniture or decor

Cross country shopping works best if you are laser-focused on something specific. For example “Eames lounge chair” or “1970’s wall hanging.” Start out in nearby surrounding states if you are feeling a bit timid.

Photography by KIM-BEE MAX

phone a friend

Once you find a piece that interests you, immediately email the seller for more details. However, if you are interested in purchasing a larger or more expensive piece, it’s best to set-up a phone call as well to get a sense of the type of seller you are dealing with and whether or not they seem trustworthy. Extra points for any seller who has their own shop or also sells on eBay as they will be prepared for these types of sales. Make sure to mention straight away that this would be an out-of-state sale to ensure the seller is open to this sort of transaction. Also try to confirm the legitimacy of your item (if necessary) with additional photos of serial numbers, close ups of tags, etc.

Photography by Brittany Ambridge

agree on a price

Those of us who love “the Craig,” know that there is almost always some price haggling. For inter-state purchases, I try to avoid super low-ball offers as I know there will be some extra work involved in shipping the item. Also establish how you will pay for your item. Using a service like Paypal or Google Wallet will provide you with some extra protection, in case any problems should arise later.

Photography by Flatrate

arrange for shipping

For sellers with a shop, arranging for shipment will likely be easy peasy as they are usually already set-up to take care of things like this. For individual sellers, you might need to offer a hand and research your own shipping options. For smaller items, USPS Priority is a great choice, and offers insurance in case of any damage. I always offer $10 or so extra in my price to cover any shipping supply costs such as bubble wrap or shipping tape. Shyp is a new service that is also a great option, as you simply need to download app, arrange for pick-up and they take care of all the rest, including packing! For mid-size items, Greyhound Package Express is a very budget friendly option. For larger items such as couches, check Yelp in the area you are purchasing for moving or shipping company recommendations.

Photography by Brittany Ambridge

final tips

Remember that no matter how legit your seller sounds on the phone, you are taking a chance when you make an out-of-state purchase. Do your homework, trust your gut, and make sure you feel good about your transaction before making any purchases. But also: your furniture and decor world opens up big time when you realize you can Craigslist in all 50 states!