However for many the only realistic option is to rent accommodation. There are basically three types of rented property available; fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished.
Furnished property means that you will not have to find any furniture at all, everything that is required for living, albeit very basic in some furnished properties, is provided. Part furnished typically means that the main white goods, table, chairs, sofa and beds are included. Unfurnished is exactly as the name suggests! There will be no furniture,white goods or soft furnishings.
Unless you pay high rent the chances any furniture in furnished and part furnished properties is not going to be new. You can use this to your advantage as you may not like what is included, however add a few of your own personal touches and not only can you cover an unsightly stain on a carpet with a rug, you can do the same for old and unfashionable or marked sofas and chairs by buying cheap throws and scatter cushions. If the curtains are really dire, there is no reason why you can't take them down and put up your own cheap ready made curtains. Check which type of curtain tracks have been used so that you can ensure you also get the correct type of curtain hooks from which to hang your curtains.
If the property has curtain poles then it is easy to find cheap ready made curtains with a fashionable eyelet or tab top style heading which can simply be slid onto the pole. Remember to keep any curtains you take down as they will have to be replaced when you move home. It is also wise to ensure that the you agree with the landlord's inventory with regards to the condition of all the furniture and soft furnishings as any disputes and disagreements as to their condition is far easier to sort at the start of a tenancy than at the end, where you may stand to lose your deposit if the landlord says things are not in the same condition as when you moved in!
Changing the curtains without changing the curtain track or pole is advisable as many landlords will not allow any drilling into walls without prior written consent and unless you have a long term tenancy agreement buying new curtain tracks and fitting them is not really worth your while or a cost effective way to change the window dressings in rented accommodation.