Bed for a nomadic lifestyle?
June 16, 2008 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to embark on a nomadic lifestyle for, I believe, a few years. I will be spending in the neighborhood of 3-6 months at a time in various places, renting rooms, subletting, etc. What do I do about a bed?

Maybe some of the places I stay will be furnished, but some will likely not. I know I could go the futon or Aerobed route, but both sound a bit uncomfortable for my 34-year-old body. Also, if I should ever have a lady over (hey, it could happen...maybe), futon kinda screams "college dropout" a little louder than I would like; An Aerobed even moreso.

So, any alternatives?
posted by SampleSize to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Provided you can get hold of transportation for it, there are always cheap beds on Craigslist. Re-buy at each location.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:35 PM on June 16, 2008

You said that a futon screams "college dropout," but there are many higher-end futon styles that look very classy. Do some googling around for various styles and you'll be surprised.
posted by amyms at 7:35 PM on June 16, 2008

If there's a craigslist in the places you'll be visiting you can likely find one free there - a search for "mattress" under the free section in my city brought up a lot of results, and you could probaby do better if you were willing to spend a few bucks. Put them back up on CL when you're ready to leave, and take an air mattress or similar with you to fill in the gaps when you don't have anything.
posted by sanko at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2008

The nomadic lifestyle is gonna attract a different sort of lady that doesn't really care what kind of bed you have. I would get the aerobed and not worry about it. They are fairly comfortable, really. You can add a memory foam or feather topper if you want some extra plushitude.
posted by kindall at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2008

aerobeds are really not as bad as you think they are, they can be quite comfortable. i would recommend them. their top model looks pretty awesome actually. i sleep on the normal model when i visit my aunt down the shore, and my SO and i used an alike when we didn't have a bed in our new apartment for a few weeks.
posted by Mach5 at 7:44 PM on June 16, 2008

Futons flatten out rapidly and IMO aren't worth the money. You need to come up with something creative that is also cheap and perhaps modular, like sticking eight ottomans together. Or building a rough frame and throwing enough blankets on it that that's your mattress. A nest.
posted by user92371 at 7:50 PM on June 16, 2008

If you decide that real beds are the way to go, and you don't have a truck, I suggest using these ratchet tie-downs to move them.

I used to dread moving even though I didn't have that much stuff. But if you put an item on top of your car and clamp it down with one of these, it's a breeze.
posted by Mjolnir at 7:53 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aerobed: It is actually comfortable, and it's orders of magnitude more portable. I've been using one as I've been traveling around visiting friends for the past month, and it's been great. I wouldn't worry what people think of it - use it as a way to bring up all the interesting things you've been doing and seeing while traveling.
posted by Galt at 8:02 PM on June 16, 2008

I slept on a Coleman air mattress for a month before I moved to a new place and bought some new furniture. It wasn't half bad -- I had a fluffy comforter that I laid down on top, and some blankets and sheets. If you are willing to fork over the cash for an aerobed, I am sure it will be worth it.

An Indian girl in my research group did not have a bed for all 5 years of her PhD -- she slept on what I believe was a big pad or several fluffy sleeping bags/comforters, and she would roll them up during the day when not in use.

It all depends on portability - actual bed > aerobed > cheaper air mattress > blankets/comforters > camping sleeping pad. I had an ex that stayed with a friend for what ended up being 9-10 months while finishing his thesis -- he slept on the floor of the guy's spare bedroom with his thermarest camping pad and a sleeping bag the entire time.
posted by sararah at 8:07 PM on June 16, 2008

Nthing the Aerobed. Surprisingly comfortable, packs up & moves very easily, etc.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2008

Will you be staying in the States?

Also, my current s.o. has a futon - I made him ditch the frame, and now we just use the mattress on the floor - it's quite comfortable. Even for my 30-something body.
posted by Liosliath at 8:18 PM on June 16, 2008

those aerobeds look kinda cool. how are those things for sex? is it as stable as a regular mattress?
posted by gcat at 8:27 PM on June 16, 2008

those aerobeds look kinda cool. how are those things for sex? is it as stable as a regular mattress?

It's ok as long as it hasn't sprung a leak, and if you keep it pumped really full of air. When it has less air pressure, it gets saggy and whomever is on the bottom sinks in until their butt is hitting the floor. And they don't weigh very much, so sometimes you slide around the floor a bit. The plus side is no squeaking and creaking -- much less noisy than sex on an old bed.

If you are really moving around (like, driving your car from city to city), either buy a (cheap new or used) mattress/futon in each place, or get an inflatable mattress of some sort. Futons and inflatable beds are fine when you invite someone over, as long as you have a story that makes sense. "I'm moving around every two months" is a fine story; "I don't believe in furniture" is more borderline.

But I've never had trouble finding furnished places to rent for short stints, and honestly I'd take a furnished apartment over hauling crap around every other month -- it's not just the mattress; you might want a place to sit and a dinner table and other basics, and there's no way you want to move all that every 8 weeks.
posted by Forktine at 8:41 PM on June 16, 2008

Aerobed. My friend has one that comes in a handy carrying case with a shoulder strap.

Keep it pumped full so it's really firm, and if it's not, just sex your ladies on the couch. (Put a towel down first, though. And also don't do it if there are other people in the room and stuff.)
posted by bedhead at 8:48 PM on June 16, 2008

If you don't mind sleeping on couches you could get a modular couch like this one. With an L-shaped couch, you could have one side and your romantic guest could have the other.

I was going to say "hammock!" but I'm only a little older than you, and I think that'd kill my back.
posted by homelystar at 8:50 PM on June 16, 2008

I was in a similar situation a few years ago and bought an air mattress (not a beach toy thing, but a "real" air mattress). It was a mistake. After about a week on the thing I broke down and bought a real mattress. It was way too loosey-goosey for me, and IIRC I actually kept sliding off the damn thing in the middle of the night.

I would recommend you buy a 2nd hand mattress, if the idea doesn't bother you. You'll pay a fraction of the price of a new one, which, I just recently learned, are pricey as hell. Or a large futon bed can double as a couch. If your lady friends object to...ahem...staying with you because of that...then you need better lady friends. And that's a totally different AskMeFi question.
posted by zardoz at 10:18 PM on June 16, 2008

How about a latex cutout? You could roll it up when you travel, and they're as comfortable as a mattress. Alternatively, they're not that expensive - just buy news ones from place to place. We traded in our rather expensive mattress for latex cutouts!

Also, through Craig's List you can often rent furnished. I spent 3 months each in Germany, France, and Italy moving from furnished place to place. All of them were great!
posted by xammerboy at 11:14 PM on June 16, 2008

I'm going to buck the trend and say "futon". I know of no more comfortable thing to sleep on than a foam-core+wool+cotton outer futon. If my 46-year-old body gets aches and pains, sleeping on an innerspring will often either leave them there or make them worse, but spending a night on the futon in the lounge room clears them right up.

A futon on the floor needs to be rolled up every day to stop a horrid smelly damp patch forming underneath. A futon on a slat base needs to be turned over every week (flip it lengthwise one week, sideways the next) to stop it compacting. If you can do that, you will not find a better night's sleep, even after you've stopped being nomadic.

A futon with a nice sheet and pillows and a tasteful, obviously clean comforter over it doesn't scream "college dropout" at all, in my opinion. Doesn't even murmur it.
posted by flabdablet at 11:25 PM on June 16, 2008

one of these?

The up side to a Japaneses style mattress is that they roll up so It'd be easy to transport. I find them comfortable.

Oh! and instead of saying that you are living like a nomad you can say you are living like a ninja.
posted by magikker at 1:16 AM on June 17, 2008

Sleep on the floor. i've been sleeping on a carpeted floor for about a year now . . .you get used to it. You need a pillow of course, and I use a thick comforter between me and the floor.
posted by nameless.k at 7:27 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good suggestions everyone. Sounds like that raised Aerobed is worth a shot. I always thought it was a gimmick, but now I'm intrigued.
posted by SampleSize at 3:57 PM on June 17, 2008

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