How can I achieve the most comfortable bed for the lowest price? (<$250)
October 16, 2014 2:01 PM   Subscribe

How can I achieve the most comfortable (hopefully portable) bed for the lowest price? (Under $250)

Hey guys, I'm hoping you can help me. I just graduated college and I move a lot but I don't have a lot of money, and for some reason the whole bed situation is the hardest to deal with because I'm used to *not* having huge pieces of furniture. But I'm really into bedding.

Anyway, I don't have a lot to spend (probably $200 max, $250 IF IT'S A REALLY GOOD SETUP), and I was looking at a couple options. First, I was considering this with something like this. I was also considering this foam mattress from Ikea (delivery adds $20 extra) and maybe with this or this?

I just don't know. I don't want it to be too firm with no give (I used to sleep on a futon and it was TERRIBLE), but I don't think I can avoid that considering the only bed I could get that rolls up would be a foam mattress, so I thought maybe I'd add some fluff to the top, but I don't know what combo would be the best. Basically I want to sleep on a cloud for minimal cost.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in graduate school, I slept on an IKEA Beddinge and really slept well. It's not too firm, and if you can track down the square bolsters, it looks an awful lot like a regular sofa when it is converted.

That said, you don't ever have to convert it if you want to keep it as just a bed.
posted by yellowcandy at 2:15 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife and I sleep on the Malfors mattress and love it. We've moved three times with it, and it's been fantastic to be able to easily roll up and pack away the mattress. We use it with the wooden slats on an Ikea queen bed frame. Unfortunately, you won't know whether you like it until you try it out yourself. I would say that it sleeps pretty firm, but I find it to be perfect (I will say that I'm really good at sleeping, so this may not say anything about the mattress). During cooler months we throw on a foam topper like the one you linked to, and that's great for a bit of extra warmth and cushion.
posted by ghostpony at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2014

The really, ultimate ultra-cheap option would be to use an air mattress. You can get one that auto-reinflates silently for under $100. Extremely cheap, extremely portable, reasonably comfortable. But there are some issues if the power goes out.
posted by miyabo at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2014

Under $250 is going to be tough, even for a twin bed.

I like your first option (full mattress with separate topper). This is how we set up our guest bedroom and guests have so far not had any complaints.

I'd suggest buying from an actual mattress store rather than from Amazon, though. At a mattress store you will get a reasonably serviceable bed frame (and likely a set of box springs, though I don't remember) for free. Maybe free delivery and set-up as well. I'm not sure if your Amazon purchase would include those items. Of course a set of box springs isn't strictly required, but it does help.

Don't forget about costs for things like sheets/linens, blankets, and a bedspread or duvet + cover, unless you already have those items.

I don't like air mattresses; I can never get a full night's sleep on one of those.

Ikea furniture may be cheap, however, in my experience, it's almost universally crap. You get what you pay for.

You might also be able to get by with a futon; I've slept on futons at relatives houses, and the only problem I have with it is that I am too tall.
posted by tckma at 2:26 PM on October 16, 2014

Oh, sorry for the double answer, but...

For the other guest room in our house, I bought a queen sized mattress and box spring set for $400 at BJ's Club, then went to a furniture store and bought a heavy duty bed frame for $20. The downside was I had to rent a U-Haul trailer to get the mattress home as it was too big to even tie to the top of my car.

Twin mattress sets there will almost certainly be less than $400, but maybe not less than $250.
posted by tckma at 2:29 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'd suggest buying from an actual mattress store rather than from Amazon, though. At a mattress store you will get a reasonably serviceable bed frame (and likely a set of box springs, though I don't remember) for free. Maybe free delivery and set-up as well. I'm not sure if your Amazon purchase would include those items. Of course a set of box springs isn't strictly required, but it does help.

I don't really want to go that route again, because I actually have a full size spring bed now that I just bought a few months ago, when I moved and stupidly thought I'd bring it with me when I moved again (MOVERS WOULD COST OVER $200, NOT WORTH IT). That's why I want to go the cheap, portable route, especially since I don't want to buy another box spring and frame.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 2:31 PM on October 16, 2014

We bought these from Costco a few years back (not this exact brand but just like this). They fold up. I suggest buying 2 and laying them on top of each other--that's how I prefer them. For me, one is too firm, two is just right.
posted by biscuits at 2:37 PM on October 16, 2014

...How was moving the bed not worth it for $200 when you're willing to pay $250 for a new bed?
posted by maryr at 2:42 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Muji has a foam mattress that folds into thirds into a cushiony ottoman thing that takes up almost no space. It is very cheap and I literally slept on it every night for several years and was perfectly comfortable.

I would like to get some more for use as guest beds. They are awesome.
posted by tel3path at 3:02 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

maryr: He said he moves a lot and probably doesn't want to pay that every time.
posted by harrietthespy at 3:05 PM on October 16, 2014

I got a SimplyGlobo raised air mattress for my guest room. I've slept on it and was really impressed. My previous experience with air mattresses was pretty bad, like sleeping on a swimming pool raft. But this thing is totally different. It sits up high and gets just as firm as a regular mattress.
posted by mullacc at 3:09 PM on October 16, 2014

You're on the right track. I would go the memory foam mattress route, and Amazon is cheaper than most anywhere else. They're way better than you'd think. We put a latex topper on ours and it's perfect. Toppers are cheaper and easier to replace than the whole thing. People have good things to say about Tuft and Needle, but it's pretty far outside the price range you set, though $350 for a full-sized mattress is pretty cheap in absolute terms.
posted by cnc at 3:17 PM on October 16, 2014

I like the mid-price IKEA foam mattresses and we've got one on our bed that we have been happy with for 10 years now, but we got the cheapest foam ones for our kids' beds and they are VERY THIN and VERY UNSUPPORTIVE. Like, unless you weigh a hundred pounds it is very easy for your pressure points to sink through the mattress and bottom out on whatever you have underneath. I don't know if a 2" foam topper would be enough to offset that. I think you'd be better served buying a thicker foam mattress.
posted by drlith at 3:53 PM on October 16, 2014

Those amazon beds are not portable. They come vacuum sealed, and then act as normal difficult to move around mattresses after they expand.

For a mattress, you should go to craigslist instead of full blown movers. They don't need an entire team, extra insurance and a moving truck. They just need a truck and a tarp.
posted by politikitty at 4:08 PM on October 16, 2014

$350 for a full-sized mattress is pretty cheap in absolute terms.

I'm having difficulty reconciling that you're "really into bedding" but only wish to budget $250 on a mattress. If portability and low cost are that paramount to you, one of the raised air beds and a memory/latex foam topper is probably your best bet (as mentioned upthread, the type with an automatic inflator). Currently I have a 4" memory foam topper from Costco under a pillow top mattress pad from Macy's own line and it feels pretty cloudlike, but if I recall the topper/pad combined were at least $150 alone.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:19 PM on October 16, 2014

I bought a thick foam mattress topper from Amazon for less than $100 and put it on top of a very cheap Ikea mattress. It's wonderful. I think you could put it on an air mattress and have similar results, as long as the air mattress doesn't deflate during each night like so many do.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 4:29 PM on October 16, 2014

Response by poster: I'm having difficulty reconciling that you're "really into bedding" but only wish to budget $250 on a mattress.

I only HAVE $250 for a bed, yo. I hope to gradually accumulate more bedding as time goes on. And it sounds like a decent air mattress could actually work, I'm used to ones that deflate nightly but apparently there's "technology" involved now. Then I could invest more in a mattress topper, and it would be ultra portable! :D
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 4:35 PM on October 16, 2014

I slept on an air mattress exclusively for about a year- very similar to the one you just linked, it had a built-in pump. About 6mo in, it developed a hole and started completely deflating over night, but I found the hole (a pinprick) and patched it, and it was fine for another 6mo. Apart from when it sprung a leak it needed a few seconds of pumping every week or two to firm it up.

It was much better than a futon, and if you got a cheap foam topper that could make it softer. It started doing deflating again eventually and I gave up on it and bought an memory-foam one off Amazon (plus a bed frame). Not at all portable. Cheap, easy to buy, definitely more comfortable than the air mattress.

At a $250 budget I say go for an air mattress and a topper, for sure.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:11 PM on October 16, 2014

I just did something like this with a queen size - minimizing cost and maximizing comfort. We already had a memory foam topper that we moved, but we bought a ~$150ish 8" memory foam mattress, platform bed frame, and mattress protector on Amazon prime. I was very uncomfortable sleeping on just the mattress on the bare floor so I would definitely recommend getting the mattress foundation with it.

6" Memory foam mattress, $110
4" Tri-fold memory foam mattress, $107

Folding platform bed frame, $80
Mattress topper, $36
Mattress protector, $25

If you need to include sheets, blanket, and pillows in the budget then forgo the mattress protector and/or topper.

For a larger bed you could maybe squeak by with just the mattress and bed frame for $250, but it might go over a bit.
posted by ghostbikes at 9:46 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You are categorically not going to "sleep on a cloud" for anything remotely near 250$. If you could, the average price of a basic mattress wouldn't be so high above that.

One thing you could do is buy a basic, fairly firm mattress now and suffer through it (yeah, for a 250$ mattress it will be suffering unless you're really not picky, unfortunately) until you can save up more money to buy an expensive topper. That can totally turn things around, if you pick the right one. And a topper can be rolled up and brought to the next place you move.

That's more or less my setup - I searched hard to find a cheap mattress and the cheapest real mattress (like with springs, not those glorified couch cushions from ikea) I could find was about 250$, on sale. It was not comfortable. Added ikea's most expensive memory foam topper a few months later (350$ for a queen, but a twin should be a lot cheaper) and it's the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, at home or elsewhere. When I move I'll roll up the topper and bring it, and buy another crappy mattress to put it on.
posted by randomnity at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Right now, I'm sleeping on a setup that I consider very comfortable, and it cost me almost nothing.

I sleep on a stack of two queen-sized box springs, with a queen-sized futon on top.

One box spring I got from Craigslist for $25, one was free because my roommate was giving it away, and the futon was also a free score from Craigslist. So 25 bucks, plus the price of a couple of Zipcars, for this bed.

I used to live in New York City, where nobody would dream of accepting used bedding, but out here on the West Coast, the fear of bedbugs is a lot less. I haven't had any problems.

What I like most about this setup (actually, what inspired it) is that new mattresses are all impregnated with flame-retardant chemicals that totally freak me out. Futons generally aren't. And I think the box springs are old enough that they may not have been either; at any rate, they're mostly wood and air and metal, not foam.

And it is like sleeping on a cloud. The upper box spring has actual springs, and has a little give to it; the bottom one is stiffer, and mostly adds height. I really like the firmness of the futon plus the slight bounce of the upper box.

Anyway, I highly recommend this route if you are looking for a bed on the cheap. So cheap you won't feel bad about getting rid of it if and when you move.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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