What makes for a good temporary bed?

December 26 |
Holy crap: Cardboard bed! Photo courtesy of kartongroup.com.au
I'm going to be moving in January to a different city, but I know I'll only be in that city for six months or so. With that in mind, I'm not looking to spend a lot of money on a bed, nor am I interested in buying a used bed. Do any of you have a creative temporary bed solution?

I'm thinking about buying a large foam mattress topper, putting it on the floor, throwing a bunch of blankets and pillows on it, and calling it a day. Have any of you ever tried that? If so, what were some of the pros and cons? -Olivia

Besides that awesome recyclable cardboard bed that I found, does any one else have good ideas for a cheap, temporary bed that doesn't involve someone's used mattress?

  1. How much freedom do you have with the space you're renting? Because this sounds like a perfect situation for a hammock.

    16 agree
    • You can also get free-standing hammock stands, but I have no clue how much they would cost.

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      • Warning on free-standing hammock stands: Some can bend with extended or any use so that your butt hits the ground!

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  2. We are also going to need a temporary bed. We will have a German student with us for 2 weeks next fall. It will probably be our 16 year old on the makeshift bed, but still, comfort. And we don't have much extra space. Also, anyone have construction plans for a loft with stairs?

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  3. i slept on air mattress like this (queen, raised): http://www.walmart.com/ip/17641100?adid=22222222227014498965&wmlspartner=wlpa&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=13223600590&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem

    my entire senior year of college + then later for 3 months with my husband when we moved and had no money for a bed yet. we layered tons of comforters and blankets both under the mattress (we didn't have carpet to keep the cool air out) and on top under our sheets for extra padding. worked quite well! now we use it when guests come over.

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    • I'm personally not a fan of the air mattresses. No matter how you layer, they just suck the heat out of your body (to heat up all that air in the mattress).

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      • I've never had a problem with an air mattress making me cold. I do put a nice heavy blanket under a corner sheet, and then I use a good comforter or sleeping bag to sleep with – but my husband and I have slept on air mattresses while camping in the freezing weather, and at home for months before we could afford a "real mattress" and it was just fine. It worked for us anyway…

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        • I've noticed that some people are more prone to this than others, and the best solution I've found is for people who get cold on air mattresses to add a mattress pad or cover to insulate them from the air mattress.

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          • Mattress topper or eggbox foam/squishy layer over fitted sheet and sleeping bags works for me/us when we visit parents. Airbed is a tall one tho. so you can get off it easily not feel like you're getting up from a long way down.

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  4. We got a nice air mattress too and my mom has been using it for her latest 4 month visit and it's worked well. We put carpet underneath it and a comforter under the sheet to help keep the cool air away from the body.

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  5. there are some REALLY good air mattresses out now. they are gonna be over $100, but some of them are as tall as regular beds. look in camping sections & stores. just spend the extra on a GOOD one & go ahead & get the battery air pump thing.

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  6. Foam mattresses are designed to sit on a hard surface to keep you from sinking into it too far, so it sounds like a good idea. You could also just try to find something on Freecycle, then give it away when you leave again. I rolled up a futon mattress with me, and slept on it and hauled it around with my for a while in college. It was ok for a few months.

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  7. If you've got $80 bucks to spend, I think you should look at an ikea mattress. This one: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00139752/

    I've got it and it worked wonderfully – much better in my opinion than an air mattress which I did previously. Also, you can sort of roll it back up to make transporting easier.

    I ended up buying this bed as well: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20180566/ ($40, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're over 300 lbs or if jumping on the bed is very important to you. But my SO and I slept together on it fairly often and it was fine (maybe ~350 lbs total)) as I was sick of sleeping on the floor, so you can get an entire bed for $120, which for me was worth it – especially as I could pack up the bed and fit it in my dodge caliber.

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    • I can second the Ikea mattress. However, it never rolled easily for me.

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      • Yeah, there's kind of a trick to it. First, you've got to have some decent straps to hold it – think inch webbing with some sort of hardware – I had some laying around. But, if you have some patience and a couple extra hands (my SO and I rolled it up), you can get it rolled up enough that it's doable – never back to the original, but the roll I've got is maybe a foot and a half diameter.

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    • Whoops, not quite $120 as you've got to get the slats as well. So with the cheapest slats, you can get a bed for $140. Still, I've paid more for textbooks.

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    • I have this IKEA mattress and it's great! I slept on it on the floor for a few months before I got a bed, and it was completely comfortable.

      I will agree that IKEA beds aren't the best for larger people… my partner is a bigger guy and the bedframe ended up bending shortly after he moved in with me. (We were able to fix it by reinforcing it with cables, but I'm not sure that I would buy one again.)

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  8. My senior year of college, I slept on an air mattress on the floor, with 2 egg crate foam things on top, and then a puffy comforter. It was very comfy. I did have to periodically re-inflate the air mattress though.

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    • Definitely egg crate foam. You can put that on top of most anything & it will save your back. I do a lot of (historical reenactment) camping, & my roll of egg crate foam is the only thing that keeps me from being super cranky!

      1 agrees
  9. I had a roommate in college that slept on some sort of sleeping mat. I wanna say she said it was Japanese? I don't remember. Either way she said it was very comfortable and slept on it for a year with no complaints.

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    • A Japanese-style futon (not the ridiculous American things with the foam and springs and FRAMES, FFS, why would you put a frame on a futon, it completely defeats the purpose) is impossible to find in the US (don't know about Canada or the UK). However, if you live in an area where they exist, they are fabulous and take up hardly any space, 'cause you fold them up during the day! And they're very comfortable and generally warmer than air mattresses. Also they don't collapse. A 3- or 4-inch thick one should be fine; just remember to flip it over regularly, and lay it out in the sun if you can. Keeps it clean.

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      • Amazon has a sort of…knockoff version of futons for about 70-100 bucks. I posted a link in one of my comments below. I agree with this, definitely! Get the real deal!

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      • I sleep on a futon made by J-Life International – I didn't have space for an American-style 'futon'. :) This is Japanese-style but U.S. made, so not the cheapest but far from the most expensive I've seen. I've slept on it for the last two years and really like it a lot – but I couldn't afford a tri-fold mattress to go underneath it, so I can't speak to their quality. It takes getting used to – when The Boy who is used to American mattresses is around I put an inflatable mattress underneath it, which gives it kind of a waterbed feel. :) A bit creaky and odd looking but the entire set-up still fits into the back of a car when needed, which at this phase of my life is awesome.

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  10. We are in a temporary rental (only going to be here a few more months), and our queen boxspring didn't fit up the stairs, so we just have a mattress on the floor. It works okay, although the support is definitely not the same as a regular put-together bed.

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  11. I wouldn't go with a foam "topper" as you mentioned, as that wouldn't be thick enough. I would just get a foam mattress from Ikea. You could also look around craigslist or kijiji to find a cheap used frame so that you don't feel like a college student?

    I wouldn't go for an air mattress. Because the heat wants to balance out, it sucks all the heat out of your body to warm up the air in the mattress. And it does that no matter how many blankets you pile on top. Plus there is the potential for holes or for having it deflate. I wouldn't put my guests on one for more than a night or two, never mind sleeping on one for 6 months! The foam mattress won't cost much more, and you can likely sell it to a college student afterwards.

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  12. I would get a cheap, twin sized mattress and just throw it on the floor. The smaller size is easy to move, and even if it is springy, having it on the floor would make it so that it doesn't "sag" when you lay on it. If you have some cute, decorative pillows you can cover the mattress with your blanket, arrange the pillows on it, and it will look acceptable in the event you have "company" over at any time. A twin size mattress would be very easy to re-sell too, since there are plenty of children and college students who need smaller, cheaper beds!

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  13. If you can find it for relatively cheap, how about a futon? The real, japanese version, that is–not the kind that is basically an uncomfortable couch. They're basically a foldable, small mattress-like thing that comes with a comforter and you can fold up and store in the corner during the day.

    You might have to find one on the internet, depending on where you live and how cheap they might be, though. If portability is a concern, however, I'd definitely recommend one.

    1 agrees
  14. I got a foam mattress for about $60-70 when I was at college for a semester. I just put it on the floor and it was totally fine for the 5 months I used it. It started to sink towards the middle by the end, but for $60 it was worth it.

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  15. I slept on an Aerobed air mattress for almost two years before I bought a real bed. We had carpet, so I didn't need anything under the bed, but I did put an old comforter under my fitted sheet, and never had any problems with heat loss. I would recommend one with a BUILT IN air pump…the one I had was controlled by a little toggle so I could adjust the air even while in bed, which was very convenient. The bonus with an air mattress is that once you settle down and get a real bed, the air mattress can double as a guest bed; we still have mine for the second bedroom. I would suggest spending a decent amount of money if you go the air mattress route, since you're going to be using it every night for months at a time.

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  16. I slept on egg crate foam for a year or two. I never had any back problems from it, but i was also 13/14 at the time so take that into consideration.

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  17. I slept on an Aerobed for a year, and it was awesome. It eventually gave out, but considering it was a year of daily use from both my partner and I, it lasted a long while. We were in Vermont and never had any trouble with heat loss, though we were on a carpet and had an egg crate pad on it.

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  18. I've been considering twin size foam mattress on top of Plastic totes used for storage.

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    • You have to be careful what kind of plastic totes you use. A lot of them aren't intended to stand up to a whole lot of weight and will collapse. I've had one collapse under the weight of a similarly sized container of yarn and that's not nearly as heavy as a twin mattress and person.

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  19. Every time I've lived somewhere temporarily not in my own town I've found furnished rentals – makes life so much easier! Just putting that out there as a possibility, as I think some of the beds in rental rooms have been nicer than the ones I've owned.

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  20. When sleeping over at mom's, we got tired of air mattresses deflating, and went on Amazon and picked up a foam fold-out ottoman. It rolls (though not while folded out), easily opens and closes, and isn't heavy. Above all, it's comfy. It's about the same price as a queen-sized Aerobed if you find it on sale.

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  21. Like others, I've often slept on a mattress on the floor, and found it comfortable.

    BUT! It only took one year of mattress-on-floor sleeping for mold to start growing on the carpet. So if you live in a humid area, as I did, be careful. Mold is not fun to deal with, not to be mention unhealthy.

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    • Having slept on a mattress on the floor in a humid area, I can tell you, it is more important than ever to flip your mattress regularly, and move it from time to time so the carpet underneath can dry… or pick up a dehumidifier.

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      • Yup! I came from a dry place and I would never in a million years guessed mold would grow under my mattress. I felt so stupid when it happened!

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  22. I've been bouncing from city to city with my job for the last few years (I am lucky that my position allows for transfers pretty much anywhere in the US!) The last place I was at I finally broke down and bought a mattress and boxsprings after sleeping on an air mattress for nearly a year. I would recommend Insta-Bed as my favorite brand (and I've tried several because my cat likes to put holes in the mattresses with his claws) got it at Kmart on sale for $25. Built-in pump, thin but very comfortable. As with anything plastic, they do tend to "stretch" over time and not hold air quite as good so you do have to refill the air often. My mattress set is currently in a storage unit in Madison as my latest move was to SC for 6-8 months.

    For 6 months, an air mattress is your best bet. Anything longer, try a $99 twin mattress from Sam's Club. If I don't get the promotion to Pittsburgh that I applied for (seeing the country – no better way than working my way through it!), I'm going to have to break down and get a cheap set here. The cat just won't leave the air mattresses alone, and I'm too lazy to shove it in a closet when I leave each day.

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  23. I have two suggestions, self inflating mattress and a swag.

    We use self inflating mattresses for camping. They're not like your typical air mattresses, as they have a layer of high density foam in them and are super comfy for only being about 8-10cm thick. We've often dragged one out for the other person to sleep on when our bed has been invaded by our 14month old [who takes up at least 2/3 of the bed!]. Takes a bit of adjustment on how much air you want in them but I love them.

    A swag is another camping bed, which can be rolled up with all the bedding inside and taken with you. It's generally made of canvas, with a thin mattress in it-then whatever bedding you want.

    0 agree

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