Can You Really Find Good Free Stuff On Craigslist?

To find an answer to that question I decided to employ one of the oldest forms of scientific study: observation. I randomly choose four cities from around the United States (Atlanta, Sacramento, Minneapolis and New York) and during a one week period of time (September 5th through 12th. Okay, eight days) I perused and wrote down what each city had to offer in their respective free sections on Craigslist every day. What I found was sometimes amusing and somewhat telling of the value we place on our stuff, especially very heavy things.

What They All Had In Common

While looking at all of those free stuff listings for a week, a commonality of offerings became apparent; if it’s big, heavy or dirty, and you can haul it, it’s yours! All four cities offered the following:

Furniture (every city offered floral printed sofas)

Dirt (or more descriptively, “fill dirt”)

Firewood (lots of pine in Atlanta and Sacramento)


Old TV’s (LOTS of these, some up to 52 inches. Might be because of the digital switch)

Pianos and Organs (working and nonworking)

Grills (gas and charcoal)

Scrap metal

Working and (mostly) nonworking appliances. Usually refrigerators, washers and dryers with an occasional leaky dishwasher.

Used carpet, sometimes with the padding

Broken concrete/pavement

Landscaping rocks

Scrap wood and pallets

Kitchen sinks and bathtubs

Horse Manure

Exercise equipment (most of it in good, working condition. Hmmm.)

The carpet surprised me a little. I can understand the owner trying to give it away but who would want carpet that for years was walked on, spilt upon and who knows what elsed upon until it finally had to be torn up? Another interesting find was the horse manure offered in every city.

The Not So Big, Heavy and Dirty Stuff

As for not so big, heavy or dirty stuff, all four cities also offered the following:

Moving boxes

Clothes (men’s, women’s, kids, all seasons, and all sizes. The frequency of clothes postings was second only to furniture)

Old Computers and peripherals (if you want an entire eight year old computer, including monitor, printer, webcam and scanner, it’s all out there waiting for you)


Garage Sale leftovers (something kind of sad about that)

VHS Tapes

Three Out Of Four Ain’t Bad

I think if I had taken more than a week the following stuff would have appeared in all four cities. Three out of the four cities offered:

Kid’s bikes

Doors (interior and exterior)

Filing cabinets

Toys (usually stuffed animals)

Lawn mowers (usually broken)



Typewriters (very useful these days)

The Other Stuff

By city, here are the other items offered during that week. Kind of an interesting snapshot.

New York

Not surprisingly, New York City offered the most free stuff, and possibly the widest variety, including baby gerbils, lots of comedy club tickets, cookbooks, coffee mugs, records, a brail machine, 275 gallon tank, fish tank, wheel balancer machine, comic books, AB Dick 11 X 17” printing press and chocolate chip cookies being given away buy a guy sitting on a green inflatable couch in Washington Square Park. Also offered was an electric hospital bed, sheet rock, fire extinguishers, a safe, crutches, sewing machine, guinea pig cage, Ford bumper, office supplies, fish bait, ferrets, Bumble Bee Gobies (fish), a cat, light table, flower window box, coal, CD jewel cases, wine glasses, cinder blocks, sparring gear, Hookah Shish, kittens, cement board, worms, hedges, pool heater and a cardboard fort.


Our northern neighbors ran a close second to New Yorkers in the sheer amount of stuff offered for free. Of the four cities they were far and away the worst spellers, too. I don’t know what that means, but it got annoying after a while. Offerings included baby food jars, coffee creamer, perennial plants, silk flowers, pickup bed liner, duvet cover, basketball hoop, flower pots, remote controlled tank, paver bricks, packing peanuts, wheel barrow, sleeping bags, toilet, downspouts, soccer goal, Barbie dolls, ferret cages, golf clubs, dog house, shingles, boat ladder, vinyl siding, knife block, water cooler, dog kennel, cats, bathroom vanity, beer bottle collection, fake plant, work bench, perennial plants, turtle sandbox, freezer burned meat, AM car radio, used breast pump, railway (or railwood) ties, partial jug of crack filler and a phone charger.


They also had an offer of freezer burned meat, with the helpful suggestion of feeding it to your dog. Coming in third for amount of stuff, Sacrementians offered a softball mitt, plants, grape stake fencing, palm trees, fresh basil, cactus full of prickly pears, extra abalone, a puppy, wood stove, shelving, Agapanthus, 16mm film reels, working air conditioner, Yanni concert tickets, Go Kart tires, pink bottle brush trees, fruit/veggie stands, dog house, 8-track tapes, toilets, mulch, blinds, hot tubs, Bubble Eye (fish), more palm trees, gondola shelves and a ceiling fan.


Besides offering all of the common stuff listed above, the folks in Atlanta did not have as much to offer as the others. Might have been an off week, or maybe they don’t collect junk down south. Or maybe they don’t give it away. If you were in the Atlanta area that week you could have picked up a Tiki Bar, fish tanks, trampoline, go cart, ice cube trays, basketball goal, PVC pipe, sliding patio doors and baby formula.

To Sum It All Up

Of the common items listed above, all of the pianos and organs being offered for free was not so much of a surprise as a reminder that these are different times. Pianos used to be one of the prized possessions of a family, while now many consider them a heavy, useless burden. As for the other stuff, you just never know what you will find.

My answer to the question posed by the title is yes, you can find good free stuff on Craigslist. And if you are looking for something specific, don’t watch the ads for a week, just use the search option.


  1. I've used the Craigslist Free page (NYC) to give away care packages from my piles and piles of couponed-down-to-$0 goodies - full size, unopened toiletries and personal care items - to single moms, long-term unemployed, working poor, broke grad students, even a homeless man with library computer access (and perfect spelling/grammar). A few of them, in their inquiries, were a little wary that my offer was for real - didn't want to get their hopes up? maybe some creepy experiences? One of them chases curb alerts (when people just throw stuff out, they mention on craigslist what will be sitting outside their building overnight) for clothing for her teenage daughters because it's less humiliating. Plus, she said, "the good stuff goes so fast that I have better luck with curb alerts - they don't put it out on the street until after 7pm, when I'm done with work".

  2. I saw all of the curb alerts on the NYC page and wondered how well that went. I checked out your site and would recommend anyone reading this to go see what you are doing. Keep up the good work and thanks for the comment!

  3. Nice write up. I live near Atlanta and start looking for that free stuff. I'd love to score a good piano for my kids!

  4. hello, I got a beautiful queen size wrought iron canopy bed, and a free simmons beautyrest mattres set, for FREE....VERY VERY GENTLY USED!! I DID HIT THE JACKPOT THAT DAY...CRAIGSLIST ROCKS IN ATLANTA...YOU JUST GOTTA KEEP LOOKING..


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