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26 January 2024

How to set up a flat on the cheap  

If you’re about to head to uni and set up a flat, here are 10 bits of advice to help decide what to buy.

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Get your pots and pans from Kmart 

Not all Kmart saucepans and frypans are great, but our testing over the last couple of years has found some that are just as good as much more expensive ones. The best saucepan is the Anko SS Saucepan with Aluminium Encapsulated Base 20cm/2.9L (42621508). The best frying pan is the Anko 24cm Frypan (42748281). Make sure you match up those SKU numbers to ensure you’re getting the right one.  

Get your kettle from Kmart instead of The Warehouse 

We tested 44 kettles at the end of last year, including lots of cheapies from Kmart’s Anko brand and The Warehouse’s Living & Co brand. Some of the Kmart ones made our list of recommended kettles but none of the Living & Co ones did.

Don’t cheap out if you get an air fryer 

An air fryer would be a great idea if you’re planning to cook a quick meal for yourself when you get home from lectures. Our advice would be to spend a little bit more than the ones you get at Kmart and The Warehouse if you can. One of our top-scoring air fryers is often on special for just $150. 

There’s a great microwave at Kmart 

It’s not one of the best microwaves we’ve tested, but we reckon the 20L Microwave at Kmart is a great buy at just $69. It’s quite small but would be fine for making porridge for breakfast or reheating leftovers for lunch.  

A cheap electric blanket does the trick  

When we tested electric blankets, we found there wasn’t much difference between the most expensive and cheapest. We don’t reckon you need to spend more than $100 if you just want to be able to turn the blanket on and off. Spending more does get you extra features, though, like timer settings, a wool fleece cover and the ability to heat different zones.  

Get the right size heater 

Before you make any decisions about the type of heater to buy, we’d suggest checking out our heater size calculator, which shows what capacity you should be looking for. You tell the calculator a bit about the room you want to heat and it calculates how much wattage you need. For example, we told it about a 4m x 4m bedroom with a 2.4m height and no insulation – it suggested a 2,400W heater or using two heaters on opposite sides of the room.  

Dampness really needs a dehumidifier 

Unfortunately, dampness and flatting go hand in hand in New Zealand and many of us have learned the hard way that this can lead to mouldy ruined clothes. We don’t recommend buying those moisture-absorbing buckets or hanging things if you’re in an old house – they won’t make much difference. A good dehumidifier might cost a few hundred dollars but it will save having to throw out clothes. Leaving the wardrobe open a crack and not packing clothes too tightly can help too.  

Bud-style headphones are a good option 

If you’re living in a noisy flat or going to be studying out and about, a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones will make it easier to concentrate. In-ear bud headphones get the best scores for noise cancelling in our headphones test. You don’t have to fork out for Apple Airpods – we’ve been impressed by much cheaper ones from other brands.  

Get a laptop from a reliable brand 

A laptop that dies mid-semester would be a huge hassle. We’ve given all the major brands a reliability rating, based on what people told us about theirs in a survey. Dell got a “poor” rating, while Asus got “terrible”. 

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