4 types of used items you should never buy (no matter how cheap they are)

Expat life
22 Mar 2023
6 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

One of the first things you learn as an expat is that everything is more expensive than you’re used to. Even the most mundane items come with a hefty price tag, and it can be easy to blow through your savings in just a few weeks.

One way to cut costs is to check out online marketplaces or hit up local thrift stores. These stores are packed with gently used items at a fraction of the price you’d pay for new ones. Plus you can also help the environment, and support the community.

However, there are some items that you should never buy second-hand, no matter how cheap they are.

In this blog post, we will discuss four types of items that you should always buy new instead of used. Keep reading to learn more! 


Buying second-hand furniture is a risky proposition. You never know what kind of critters might be hiding in the sofas, cushions, or under the mattress.

Bed bugs and fleas are experts at hiding, and they can quickly spread through your home if you’re not careful. Even worse, once they’ve made themselves comfortable, they’ll start to reproduce, and before you know it, you’ll have a full-blown infestation on your hands.

And you might be thinking “well, I just get wooden furniture.”

Have you heard of termites and their cousins, the carpenter ants? These destructive pests can quickly destroy a piece of furniture, leaving you with nothing but a pile of sawdust.

In fact, you might end up spending more on a pest terminator than you would have if you’d just bought new furniture in the first place.

So when it comes to furniture, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and buy new. That way, you can be sure that your home will remain bug-free.

Protective equipment

There are some things you should never buy from a thrift store, and protective equipment is one of them. If you are not sure what we mean by protective equipment, let us explain.

Car seats, helmets, protective eyewear, gloves, and other similar items are designed to keep you safe in dangerous situations.

But if you buy second-hand, there is no guarantee that the item has been properly cared for.

For starters, you have no way of knowing if protective equipment has been in a serious accident. Even if it looks fine on the outside, the internal structure could be damaged, which would reduce its effectiveness in an accident.

For example, second-hand helmets can pick up dents or cracks from previous owners. And while they may seem like minor issues, they can severely limit the helmet’s effectiveness in protecting your head against impacts.

Additionally, thrift stores and marketplaces typically sell items that are past their expiration date, so items like helmets or car seats might not provide adequate protection or are up to the protective standards.

Finally, second hand goods’ prices are often too good to be true, so you might end up paying more in the long run if you have to replace the equipment sooner than expected.

In short, when it comes to protecting your family, it’s worth spending a little extra to buy new ones.


For one, you have no idea who owned them before you. They could have been someone with really smelly feet or someone with a foot fungus. Yuck!

That’s right, those shoes that you’re about to try on have been worn by someone else before, and there’s no way to know if they had athlete’s foot or any other kind of fungal infection.

In fact, even if the shoes look clean on the outside, they could still be full of fungus.

Fun fact, you can’t clean out all the fungus from the old shoes.

So unless you’re looking to pick up a fungal infection yourself, it’s best to avoid thrift store shoes altogether.

Second hand shoes are also known to have a terrible fit because they’ve been moulded to their previous owner’s feet.

So even if you have the same sized feet as the last owner, those shoes are probably not going to be very comfortable.


Electronics items are expensive… we get it. They usually eat into the bulk of your cost during your initial move to your host country.

But before you buy, you should know that there are some serious risks involved in buying electronics when you buy second-hand.

For one thing, you have no way of knowing how the previous owner treated the device. It’s possible that it was only lightly used, but it’s also possible that it was dropped, knocked around, or otherwise mistreated.

The devices may appear to be in good condition but there’s no way to know if it has any hidden damage that could cause problems down the road.

And even if they do work, there’s no guarantee that they won’t break down soon.

You might also be missing important parts or accessories.

Plus buying second hand would also mean that you are not offered any type of warranty or return policy, so if you buy a lemon, you’re stuck with it.

If you really want to, always check the reviews for the seller. If they have mostly positive reviews, that’s a good sign. Make sure the item is certified refurbished. That way, you’ll know that the seller is offering a warranty.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re not sure about something, just ask. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Stick to this rule of thumb

It is okay to feel a little lost when you’ve just moved to a new country.

You don’t know what kind of furniture you need, or what kind of appliances are going to be best for your new home.

Just remember, it’s always best to be patient and slowly decide what items you need for your new house as an expat. If there is anything that can put your health and safety at risk, it’s probably best to buy new.

Before you go…

Any expat will tell you that saving and managing costs is always at the forefront of their mind. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to save a few bucks.

One way to do this is to use Instarem to send money back home. With its low fees and competitive exchange rates, Instarem can help you stretch your budget a little further. So if you’re looking for ways to save money as an expat, be sure to give Instarem a try!

Instarem helps you send money abroad to over 50 countries.

With our simple platform, you can make a transfer in just a few clicks. Plus, we offer competitive rates and low fees so you can get the most out of your money.

Download the app or sign up on the web and see how easy it is to send money with Instarem.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.