Where To Get Moving Boxes For FREE (And The Best Places To Buy Boxes... If You Need Them FAST!) (2024)

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Free Boxes For Moving

We’ve all had to move at least once in our lives — and one of the more frustrating tasks when you move is making sure that you have enough moving boxes to pack everything.

Where To Get Moving Boxes For FREE (And The Best Places To Buy Boxes... If You Need Them FAST!) (1)

One of the worst experiences during my last move was when I ran out of boxes and had to start purchasing them. I was amazed at the amount of money it took to buy even a few boxes. Before I was done, I had easily spent $50 just on boxes alone!

That’s a bit overwhelming — especially when you take into account the fact that you may not be able to do much with them afterwards. (More on that in a minute.)

Let this be a lesson to you… Start collecting boxes early!

The minute you find out you might be moving, keep your eyes peeled for empty boxes that you happen to see throughout your day. You’ll thank yourself later.

Where To Find Moving Boxes For Free

Let’s face it, FREE moving boxes are always the best.

But what’s the best way to get free boxes for moving?

And what are the best kinds of boxes to look for?

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Basically, you have 2 good options:

#1 Copy Paper & Printing Paper Boxes

    My favorite boxes to collect when I’m preparing for a move are the ones that reams of paper come in.

    Here’s why:

    • They have lids that stay securely on.
    • They’re super heavy-duty and sturdy.
    • They’re clean (practically spotless!) on the inside — since the reams of paper are in their own wrappers.
    • They stack nicely on top of each other.
    • They’re the perfect size for packing everything — from books to cookware.

    Fortunately, I worked in offices for years. And since I was the one who ordered all the office supplies (or supervised whoever did the ordering), it was always easy for me to collect empty paper boxes and take them home for a few months — so I’d have plenty of them for each of my moves.

    But even if you don’t work in an office, chances are you know someone who does. Ask them to collect empty paper boxes for you. (Make sure to tell them you want the lids too!)

    You could also stop by an Office Depot, Staples, or some other office supply store to ask if they have any empty boxes. Office supply stores have to empty all of those boxes to put the reams of paper (and other items) on the store shelves — and most likely they’ll just get recycled anyway. It never hurts to ask!

    Finally, book stores are another good place to find moving boxes for free. Think large bookstores like Barnes & Noble, as well as any smaller, independent bookstores that happen to be located near you. Books are usually shipped to stores in super-sturdy boxes.

    So empty paper boxes with lids are my favorite type of free boxes for moving.

    #2 Grocery & Liquor Store Boxes

    While asking for empty boxes at your local grocery store is one way to get free boxes… in all honesty, grocery store boxes are my least favorite type of moving boxes.

    The main reason is that fruit boxes, for example, can have all kinds of nasty stains and residue inside them. (Possibly even bugs, fruit flies, and gnats.)

    Also, most of those boxes are not going to have lids — because the people unpacking the contents have cut these boxes open and taken off the tabs to get at the merchandise easier.

    As far as I’m concerned, no lids equals a bad choice of box — since all your stuff inside them can fall out, ending up all over the moving truck!

    Liquor store boxes are much better.

    For one, they’re usually very clean.

    But the best part is the fact that most boxes from liquor bottles also have the cardboard inserts inside of them — and that’s a great way for you to keep smaller items separated within the box!

    The only downside is the fact that liquor store boxes tend to be on the smaller side — so you’ll need more of them.

    But it’s still a good way to get empty boxes for moving FREE.

    Where NOT To Buy Moving Boxes From

    What if you just found out that you have to move right away, and you don’t have the time to gather free boxes?

    Well, you can, of course, enlist the help of your friends and family. But it may be too short of notice for them, too. In that case, you’re going to need to buy moving boxes.

    My advice to anyone who is buying boxes for moving is: AVOID stores that specialize in shipping boxes (like USPS postage stores and UPS shipping stores).

    Why? Because the prices for boxes inside these stores are typically marked up pretty high.

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    That’s where I got my boxes once, hence the $50 price tag I mentioned earlier.

    Later on, when I had some time to look around, I discovered that most department stores have a small area where they sell packing and moving supplies. (It’s usually located in the office supplies aisle.)

    I actually found boxes that were the same size as the ones I’d bought — and they were about 25% less in a department store than what I’d paid at the “official” mail packaging store!

    Still, department stores are an option. But they’re not the BEST place to buy moving boxes…

    Where To Buy Moving Boxes At The Best Prices

    If you want to save money on moving costs, I think the best place to buy moving boxes is online:

    Places like Uhaul and Amazon sell individual boxes in the exact quantity that you need. They also sell additional moving supplies that you might not think of — like moving blankets and heavy-duty moving bags with handles.

    Online moving supplies can be delivered the next day — often with FREE shipping. So, if you need the moving boxes and supplies right away, then this option is your best bet.

    You could also purchase a pre-bundled moving boxes kit online. It will include everything you need: various sizes of boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and markers. (You choose your kit based on the number of rooms you’re packing up.)

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    CON: One “downside” to buying moving boxes online is that sometimes the boxes are all the same size — so you may have to run to the store to find one or two box sizes that you’re missing. (Or you’ll have to buy two different sets of boxes to begin with — to cover all of the box sizes you’ll need.)

    TIP: The size of the box you need depends on the size, weight, and shape of the items you’re moving. A general rule is to pack heavier items in smaller boxes and lighter items in larger boxes.

    PRO: One “plus” when buying moving boxes online is you can get boxes that are uniquely-shaped to hold clothing.These are one of the best inventions ever!Wardrobe moving boxesare tall, narrow boxes that are perfectly shaped to hold clothing… still on the hangers.(Because the absolute easiest way to move clothes is to transfer them directly from your closet into a wardrobe box — rather than taking them off the hangers and folding them all.)

    Finally, the one other good place to buy boxes is atyour local dollar store. Use these links to find the one that’s closest to you:

    These days, you can find all sorts of things at dollar stores — including moving boxes, packing tape, markers, and even bubble wrap. While the items may cost a little more than one dollar, generally speaking they aren’t more than a few dollars apiece. And while you get what you pay for in terms of quality, if all you’re going to use them for is to pack items for one single move — then this budget-friendly option could work well for you!

    Here’s a free online calculator to determine how many moving boxes you need.

    A List Of Other Moving Supplies You Will Need

    We all know that when you’re moving, the boxes aren’t all that you need.

    At the very least, you will definitely need these items:

    • Packing tape (There’s really no easy way to use packing tape without a tape gun that has the “cutter” built-in)
    • Markers (Sharpies in the sizes and thicknesses you’ll use most)
    • Bubble wrap (Perforated lines eliminate the frustration of having to cut bubble wrap with scissors)

    TIP: Some of your fragile items can be wrapped in clothes, towels, or bedding to save money on packing materials like bubble wrap!

    Beyond the basics, you might also appreciate these other helpful moving supplies:

    Moving strapsThese really work! They’re especially useful if you’re moving things yourself (or enlisting the help of friends & family). Forearm straps make it possible for 2 average people to move very heavy items — like furniture, washer & dryer, refrigerator.

    Moving bagsIf you want to keep heavy items that are similar together (like weightlifting supplies, tools, garden supplies, etc), heavy-duty moving bags with handles are a great way to do this.

    Moving blankets You’ll want a few heavy-duty blankets to wrap valuable furniture pieces and other items that you don’t want scratched during the move (72×80 is the best / largest size). As a bonus: moving blankets are the perfect weight, material, and durability to last a lifetime and can be used for many other things after your move!

    TIP: By taping blankets around certain items (like dressers, hutches, desks, refrigerator), you can ensure that the doors and drawers will stay closed throughout the move. You could also use XL moving furniture rubber bands… but they’re a bit more expensive.

    The #1 Thing To Look For In Moving Boxes

    The #1 feature I think you should look for when choosing your moving boxes is boxes that can be securely closed!

    This is always your best choice when moving — because you don’t want your stuff to spill out if the box gets tilted, tossed, or stacked.

    And, if you or someone else actually drops a box, everything won’t go tumbling out on the street. (That happened when I was kid, and believe me… watching the adults pick up of all my younger brother’s toys on a busy highway was not a fun way for them to spend the afternoon!)

    So, whether you decide to use free boxes or purchased boxes, just make sure they can be securely closed — on their own.

    Yes, you can (and should) also tape them closed for added protection. But the more securely the boxes stay closed on their own, the less tape you’ll need to use. Therefore, the less tape you’ll need to buy and the more money you’ll save!

    Uses For Moving Boxes After The Move

    So, what do you do with all those boxes after you’ve moved into your new place?

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    Well, that sort of depends on what your needs are at the time.

    • I broke down any boxes that I purchased and put them in my closets (against the back wall) — in the event that I (or a friend) needed to move at a later date. You just never know if you or a loved one will have to make a move quickly, and you’ll be thankful that you have those moving boxes handy!
    • As for the printer paper boxes with lids… I used those for everyday storage. They fit on top of each other easily, and are still small enough that you can put them on your upper shelf in a closet or on the floor of the closet. I keep extra books, pictures, and knick knacks in mine.
    • You can help a fellow mover. It’s easy to post your moving boxes for free (or charge a nominal fee to ensure that you only get serious inquiries) on Freecycle,Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. I’ve seen moving boxes offered and received several times there. By the way, those sites are specific to the area where you live — so you’ll be communicating with people who live near you.
    • If you still have some moving boxes left over, you can always recycle them.

    Finally, here are some fun DIY ideas for cardboard boxes!

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    I like to help people find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” Household Tips and Life Hacks that most wouldn’t think of. I’m super-organized. And I LOVE to clean! I even enjoy doing laundry (but not ironing). I’m also a lifelong dog owner — so I often share my favorite tips for living with dogs inside your home (like smart home design choices and dog-friendly cleaning & decorating ideas). Career-wise, I’ve been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). Prior to that, I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about instead. For example, I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. When I’m not cleaning, organizing, decorating, or fixing something… you’ll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I’ve personally written over 200 articles about cleaning, organization, DIY repairs, and household hacks on this site! A few have over 2M shares; many others have over 100K shares.

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