Mattress on a college budget

I just graduated college and am moving into a new apartment soon. My funds are low right now until checks start coming in from my job. Since I’m not sure how long I’ll be in this apartment, or this area for that matter, I don’t want to spend lots of money on a long term mattress investment.

I’d like my budget for a mattress and frame to be less than $500. A platform bed would be preferred if possible.

I saw the post here about a couple firm options for mattresses, but am looking for something slightly less firm.

I’m a stomach and side sleeper and am looking for a full size bed.

The DreamFoam 12 in 1 seemed like a good option that would fit my budget (I would order through them for the discount and TMU free pillow). Other options I’m considering are the Budget Saver Plush, and Flexus Comfort’s Posture Sense. I am also considering Tuft and Needle’s mattress, though at around $470 with the TMU discount it would put me over budget for a mattress and bedframe.

Am I missing out on any other good values/deals that I could look into? I know IKEA makes some budget mattresses but from forum posts on here they don’t seem to be very well made.

Hi rdubb21,

As you know your budget is very low so there aren’t a lot of options available in your budget range that use good quality and durable materials.

There may be some local options available to you (including some of the better quality Ikea mattresses) and if you let me know your city or zip code I’d be happy to let you know about the better options or possibilities I’m aware of in your area.

Post #4 here includes some of the better online options I’m aware of that are in lower budget ranges.

There is more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) in post #2 here that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for once you actually sleep on your mattress.

There is also more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase in post #13 here that can help you make more meaningful comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability, durability, and “value”.

I would always keep in mind that a mattress that has a good price and uses good quality and durable materials but isn’t a good match for you in terms of “comfort” and PPP (which is all about how well you will sleep) or that is a good match for you in terms of PPP but doesn’t use durable materials that will maintain their comfort and support for “long enough” (which is all about how long you will sleep well) would both have little “value”.

There are also no “standard” definitions or consensus of opinions for firmness ratings and different manufacturers can rate their mattresses very differently than others so a mattress that one manufacturer rates as being a specific firmness could be rated very differently by another manufacturer. Different people can also have very different perceptions of firmness and softness compared to others as well and a mattress that feels firm for one person can feel like “medium” for someone else or even “soft” for someone else (or vice versa) depending on their body type, sleeping style, physiology, their frame of reference based on what they are used to, and their individual sensitivity and perceptions. There are also different types of firmness and softness that different people may be sensitive to that can affect how they “rate” a mattress as well (see post #15 here) so different people can also have very different opinions about the firmness of a mattress or how two mattresses compare in terms of firmness as well and some people may rate one mattress as being firmer than another and someone else may rate them the other way around. This is all relative and very subjective and is as much an art as a science.

When you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart who can help “talk you through” the specifics of their mattresses and the options they have available that may be the best “match” for you based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done or mattresses you have slept on and liked that they are familiar with, any special considerations you may have, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs or firmness options to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences or even to other mattresses that they are familiar with than anyone else.


Thanks Phoenix, I appreciate the detailed reply. I’m in the Washington DC area, more towards the MD side.

I checked out the post you linked to with the low budget options. The salesman at Dream Foam said the 12 in 1 was of lower quality material than Dream Foam’s latex and memory foam mattress options. Is that true, or is he just trying to upsell me? Based on my conversation with him, I’m leaning towards Ultimate Dreams latex bed and away from memory foam options. I’d rather sleep on top of a bed than in it, and I tend to move around a little bit before getting comfortable and falling asleep.

Latex seems to offer a good mix of comfort, support and resilience. If I don’t go the latex route, I think I’d go with an innerspring since that’s what I’ve slept on my whole life. The choices for that seem very broad though. Dream Foam alone has some options on Amazon, then there’s also Flexus’ options to look into (still waiting to hear back from their customer support about their models).

Hi rdubb21,

The better options or possibilities I’m aware of in and around the Washington, DC region (subject to the quality/value guidelines I linked in my last reply) are listed in post #2 here.

It would really depend on how you define “quality”.

If you are defining quality in terms of the durability of the materials then 2 lb polyfoam is a durable material that would be similar to higher density memory foam but not as durable as latex (see the foam quality/durability guidelines here).

If you are defining quality in terms of the cost of the materials then specialty foams such as memory foam and latex are certainly more costly.

If you are defining quality in terms of the physical properties of the material then it would be more subjective because different people would have different preferences and prefer different materials but it would probably be fair to say that more people would tend to prefer the feel and properties of latex or the feel and properties of memory foam than the feel and properties polyfoam although some people may prefer polyfoam as well. There is more about the differences between memory foam and latex in post #2 here. Most people are familiar with the more general “feel” of polyfoam because it’s the type of foam that is used most often in sofa cushions although it comes in many different grades and firmness levels so there are variations in polyfoam depending on the specifics of the formulation and firmness. In terms of resilience and response it is a fast response material but would be less resilient and point elastic (contouring) than latex but would be more resilient and have a more “on the mattress” feel than memory foam (which is a slow response and very low resilience material) but memory foam would also be more point elastic and contouring than polyfoam as well. Memory foam responds to a combination of temperature and pressure to different degrees while polyfoam and latex respond primarily to pressure regardless of temperature.

The advice or guidance that Dreamfoam provides would be based on your conversation and on what they believe you would prefer or would be in your best interests rather than on trying to “upsell” you.