Best and Worst Things To Buy Second Hand

Do you ever buy second hand? I do quite often, but it’s important to pick what you are going to buy second hand. For some items the risks outweigh the price, but for other items, second hand is definitely the way to go. Here are my favourite items to buy second hand.



A new car can lose about 25% of it's value just by being sold and driven around the corner to your home. It's crazy, even a "demonstrator model" that has barely left the lot, will be sold at a hefty discount. Today's cars are mechanical marvels, they are good for at least 200,000km before serious work needs to be done on them. Even if you live near to sea, the rusting old wrecks of a few decades ago are long gone.

But you love that "new car smell" - don't worry, a dealer will detail a pre-loved car so that it's immaculate, and yes you can buy that "new car smell" as a car air freshener!


Old furniture can actually be more comfortable and robust compared to the new stuff. For far less than a flat-pack nightmare from The Warehouse, you can own a heavy, large, robust, and already assembled desk, particularly at the end of the year when students are leaving town or shifting flats. If your city has a kerb-side collection day, you can even drive around the neighbourhood and pick up something for free!

Sofas, dining room tables, wardrobes, all pretty much go begging. If you are a bit crafty with a paintbrush or some upholstery fabric, you may even end up with something pretty!

Curtains and Blinds

Curtains are surprisingly expensive when bought new, and again there are sometimes people who are doing the whole makeover thing who will get rid of a house lot of quality curtains, which don't fit with the new colour scheme. You can really get a bargain, but its a bit of the luck of the draw.

Hobby and Fitness Equipment

Sewing machines and over lockers, are bought in a fit of interest, and then are sold off when money is tight, or if they just never get used now that the kids have come along.
Oh dear, people sell fitness equipment as often as they do gym memberships! The trouble with fitness equipment is that it is either out-of-sight, out-of-mind and therefore unused. Or in-sight and making the owner feel guilty. Onto Trademe they go!

Sports gear, particularly sticks and bat s in children’s sizes are often sold off cheap as the child grows or loses interest.

Children's Toys

The larger, more expensive items like trampolines, bikes, scooters, are often out-grown before they are heavily used, particularly for younger kids. You can get a real bargain here.

Household Appliances

It's true, they don't make things as well as they used to be. Appliances have plummeted in price in the last 10-15 years, but so has the quality. An older appliance, which has been looked after, will often keep going, even though it's large, ugly and lacks the touch-screen features of the new models.

If you have the space for an old-style TV, people will practically pay you to take it away! They work just fine with digital TV - all you will need is a set-top box, Sky or Freeview decoder.
Older-style fridges and freezers are often sold because they do not fit in the either literally, or style-wise with the new kitchen.


Some people will seek out second hand clothing because they'd rather have a different style, than the same Glassons top that everyone else is wearing this season. It helps if you are Mr or Ms Average Size, but there is often plenty of choice, though this is one time where you are probably off seeing the item in person than buying online.

Baby Gear

Babies grow up fast, and people love to give baby stuff. Have a big baby, and there will be clothing that they were too large for at birth! Other gear is just plain outgrown often in a matter of months. My brother was given a lovely Moses basket for his first-born - unfortunately the big baby never fitted in it. Other gear is just not needed after the first few months.

What NOT To Buy Second Hand

There are a few items that I'd avoid buying second hand.


Less said about the stains the better really. A bed base is fine, but I do rather prefer to know that only I have slept on a bed before.


Don't wear someone else's shoes. The shoe has been shaped to their foot, trying to fit your foot will lead to blisters and worse. Not worth it.

Laptops & Computers

Unless you are pretty expert on things computer, it’s often false economy. The new machines are indeed more user friendly, and older machines can throw unexpected issues e.g. a 5-year-old laptop my partner owns won’t connect to our new ultra-fast broadband modem…