I am moving into a house. The wood floors show signs of wear and tear. The varnish has worn away in places and the bare wood is showing. But refinishing will cost $3,000 for some 1,100 sq.ft. That is a lot of money for me right now. To help me decide what to do, let me ask, what are the downsides of waiting a year or two before refinishing the floors? (I can cover the floor with some inexpensive carpeting.)
It really depends on how tough you will be on the floors. Big difference between a man living alone vs. a family of 8 with two dogs. Note that the areas that are worn are probably the high traffic areas, so you will probably be hitting those the most too.
The issue is that if there isn't any sort of protective layer, the wood will wear substantially quicker. Meaning if you just leave the floors and you really abuse the already worn layers, they may have to be sanded further down and therefor the rest of the floor has to be sanded further down.
My suggestion is, before you move in put a couple of quick coats of poly down on the floor. This is about $100-150 and a DIY job. Since you are planning on having them refinished in a couple of years you can use this as a barometer if you can do it yourself in a few years (it is easier than you think as most wood is very forgiving).
If you prevent stains from spills, there really isn't a downside. It isn't going to ruin your floor to leave it as is if you use rugs and keep it dry.
That said, look into doing the floor refinish yourself. Rental for plate sanders (which are pretty easy to use) isn't very expensive, and applicator pads make urethane application fairly foolproof. Do some reading and give it a go. You'd probably spend $300 rather than $3000, and you could do one room at a time.