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The Apartment Index

Jake Edmonds
Written by  Jake Edmonds
5 min read
Updated: 24 Apr 2024

The cost of renting a furnished or unfurnished flat in major cities around the world.

Appartment index

Whether you’re moving out for the first time or looking for somewhere new, the cost of rent will be one of the most important factors in deciding where to live. 

While renters can usually save a little money each month by choosing an unfurnished flat over a furnished one, you’ll also need to find the cash for necessities like a bed, a sofa - and if you work from home, a desk.  

But just how much does it cost to furnish an apartment and how long does it take to recoup those costs by choosing to go unfurnished? 

What we did 

To help prospective tenants decide which option might be best for them, MoneySuperMarket Landlord Insurance analysed the cost of furnished and unfurnished properties in major cities across Europe and North America to find how much money they could save each month by choosing an unfurnished property. 

We also gathered the cost of key items from everyone's favourite Swedish furniture manufacturer to calculate just how long it would take to recover the cost of furnishing an apartment. 

The items we looked at were: 1 BILLY bookcase, 1 Kallax shelving unit, 1 Malm double bed, 1 Lack side table, 1 EKTORP 2-seater sofa, 1 Melltorp Teodores dining set for 4, 1 Besta TV-bench, 1 Hemnes bedside table, 1 PAX / FORSAND wardrobe, 1 MICKE desk, 1 LOBERGET / MALSKÄR swivel chair. 

We also included an additional budget of 33% on top of the furniture costs to cover other upfront expenses like hiring a van or moving company, buying bedding, kitchen equipment and utensils, re-directed post etc.  

Top 20 cities where renters pay the most for a furnished apartment 

According to our research, apartment hunters in Oslo pay the highest premium for a furnished property. 

A ready-to-go flat in the Norwegian capital costs 36% (£312) more each month on average.  

Renting a fully furnished flat in Krakow will set tenants back an additional 33% (£149 per month), while the Hungarian capital city of Budapest ranks third among the most expensive places to rent a furnished apartment with renters paying roughly 30% (£237 per month) more for the convenience. 

Top 20 cities where renters pay the least for a furnished apartment 

With a furnished apartment costing roughly 4% (£82) more every month than an unfurnished one, Geneva is the best city for renters looking for a convenient move.  

However, while there may be little difference in the cost of furnished and unfurnished properties, Geneva was among the top 10 most expensive property markets included in our study with average monthly rent costing £2,405 and £2,323 respectively.  

Notorious for high rental prices, the average monthly rent for a furnished apartment in San Francisco is £2,863, making it the third most expensive city in our study.  

However, at just 4% (£111) more than an unfurnished property, those who can afford to live in San Francisco may want to opt for the fully furnished option. 

Seattle ranked as the third-best city for furnished apartment seekers with rents costing 6% (£125 per month) more on average. 

Best cities for recouping the cost of furnishing an apartment  

According to our research, Sweden truly is the home of affordable furniture. 

With the cost of furnishing an apartment in Stockholm estimated at £1,780, the £311 a month that renters could save by choosing an unfurnished apartment means that the expense would be fully recovered in just 5.7 months. 

Apartment hunters in Hamburg should also consider going unfurnished if they find a suitable property. While the upfront cost of £1,874 for furniture might be unaffordable for some, those who can afford the unfurnished route could see all costs recouped in 5.9 months. 

Tenants in Amsterdam will recover the cost of purchasing their own furniture in the third shortest time, needing just 6.2 months to recover the £1,796 required to purchase the basics. 

Worst cities for recouping the cost of furnishing an apartment  

With Switzerland having some of the most expensive furniture costs of countries included in our study, Geneva ranked as the worst city for apartment hunters who’d prefer a property they can furnish to their own taste. 

Saving just £82 a month by choosing the unfurnished option, renters would need more than two years (28.5 months) to recoup their investment. 

Similarly, the comparably small difference in rental prices for property types and expensive startup costs makes San Francisco one of the least appealing cities for renting an unfurnished property. 

Providing renters put every penny saved in rent towards recovering the cost of their furniture, it would still take them 23.8 months. 

Renters in Copenhagen will face the third longest wait to recoup the cost of furnishing their new home, needing 23.2 months to do so. 

MoneySuperMarket Landlord Insurance expert, Jake Edmonds said:

“While some people prefer the convenience of a furnished flat, other people would rather choose the furniture for their home.  

“The route people choose comes down to their preferences and situations, but our study shows  how research can help renters make a more informed financial decision. 

“If you plan on renting for a while and you can afford the upfront cost, then unfurnished could be better for you in the long run. But if renting is a short-term solution and the difference between furnished and unfurnished flats is minimal, then you might want to consider furnished properties instead. 

“Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, accidents happen. So, if you do decide to invest in furniture, make sure it’s adequately insured.”  

Whether your rental property is a blank canvas or kitted out with all the mod-cons. See if you could save money on your landlord insurance by comparing cheap landlord insurance deals with MoneySuperMarket. 

MoneySuperMarket can help tenants have peace of mind with renters insurance to protect belongings if they’re damaged, lost or stolen. Renters insurance can cover furniture, clothes and jewelry, TVs and games consoles, as well as bikes, collectibles and musical instruments. Cover starts from £5 a month.   


We gathered asking prices for more than 10,000 one and two-bedroom apartments in major cities around the world using online property portals such as nestpick, housinganywhere, rentberry etc. and noted whether apartments were furnished or unfurnished.  Cities with less than 10 of each apartment type or where local Ikea prices were excluded from our study.  To calculate the cost of furnishing an apartment, we gathered the local cost for the following IKEA furniture:  

  • 1 BILLY Bookcase  

  • 1 Kallax Shelving Unit  

  • 1 Malm Double Bed  

  • 1 Lack Side Table  

  • 1 EKTORP 2-seater sofa 

  • 1 Melltorp Teodores Dining Set for 4  

  • 1 Besta TV-bench  

  • 1 Hemnes Bedside Table  

  • 1 PAX / FORSAND Wardrobe 

  • 1 MICKE Desk  

  • 1 LOBERGET / MALSKÄR Swivel chair 

Where these exact items weren't available, the cheapest alternative item was used. 

We also included an additional budget to cover other items that might be required - an extra 33%. Examples include hiring a van or moving company, buying bedding, kitchen equipment and utensils, re-directed post etc. 

To calculate the time to recoup the cost of furnishing an unfurnished apartment, we calculated the difference in rent between a furnished and an unfurnished apartment in each city and divided the result by total furniture costs. 

Figures were rounded to the nearest whole number. 

Some rental prices may be inclusive of utilities.    

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