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If you’re moving soon, you might be wondering “where can I find moving boxes near me?” Better yet – where can you find free moving boxes? After all, brand new moving boxes aren’t cheap. From hiring a moving company to renting a storage unit, the process of moving to a new home already comes with a handful of necessary expenses. Just think about it: The average cost of a local move is $1,250 and the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,890 (distance of 1,000 miles). Out of all of the moving costs, forking over one’s hard-earned money for a simple cardboard box is not ideal. As soon as the move is finished, you’ll only be recycling that $25 bundle of bankers boxes, anyway.
Thankfully, there are ways to avoid spending big bucks on moving boxes. Finding free moving supplies near you from various stores, online marketplaces and community groups, could save hundreds of dollars on moving expenses. With the exception of a few specialty boxes designed to fit certain TVs and mirrors, you could potentially move your entire home using free boxes.
How much do moving boxes cost?
According to CostHelper.com, typical costs for boxes run anywhere from $1 for a small box to $3.75 for an extra large one. However, specialty boxes (think: wardrobe boxes that allow you to store clothing on hangers and mirror boxes) cost much more. Packing paper runs $9 per pack on average, glass-packing kits cost $10 to $15 per box, and kitchen kits designed for packing glasses and dishes cost around $102.
A moving kit for a one-bedroom apartment runs $69-$90 and includes anywhere from 14 to 29 boxes. A moving kit for a two-bedroom house runs $178-$197 and contains 55-60 packing boxes. And a moving kit for a four-bedroom house runs $311-$404 and contains 86-119 boxes. (All kits also contain other supplies like packing tape, bubble wrap and markers.)
- Small moving boxes: $1 to $1.70 each
- Medium moving boxes: $2.35 to $2.79 each
- Large moving boxes: $3 each
- Extra-large moving boxes: $3.75 each
- Wardrobe moving boxes: $8 each to $12 each
- Picture boxes: $10 each
How many moving boxes do I need?
Generally, a studio move will require about $97 worth of boxes. You’ll need about $124 worth of boxes to move a one-bedroom home and about $178 worth of boxes for a three-bedroom home.
To figure out how many boxes you’ll need, use our packing calculator. The estimate will be based on the number of bedrooms in your home, the number of people you’re packing up, your packing style, and other factors.
Weight is also important. Moving boxes can hold about 30 to 150 pounds each depending on their size and whether they are single- or double-walled. If you overstuff them they might break.
Wondering where to get moving boxes in your area? Below, we’ve listed 25 places to find free boxes near you to ensure your move is as cost-efficient as possible. Happy box hunting!
U-Haul Box Exchange
The U-Haul Customer Connect Box Exchange feature allows people from all over the country to connect and find moving supplies. All you have to do is enter your location and/or a keyword, such as “Free Boxes,” to find someone near you who is giving away moving boxes. Usually, the people giving away moving boxes are folks who have recently moved themselves, and need to get a mountain of flattened moving boxes out of their house ASAP.
This online marketplace is a popular place to find just about everything. From couches for sale to job listings, your local Craigslist page is packed with an overwhelming number of great finds. The website even has a “Free” section, where locals can list the belongings they wish to give away. You can find it under “For Sale,” listed in chronological order. We recommend starting here to see if anyone is giving away moving boxes. You can also post your own ad to let people know you’re in the market for free boxes and supplies.
The Freecycle Network
Check The Freecycle Network while looking for free boxes. Similar to Craigslist, the non-profit Freecycle is a great way to find free stuff in your community. All you have to do is sign up (for free) to join your local Freecycle community group. Then, simply post in the network that you’re looking for free moving boxes.
This popular social media networking site allows users to list and advertise items to anyone in the world. It also makes it easy to find local items available for easy pickup. To find free boxes through Facebook Marketplace, simply type “free boxes” in the search tab. We recommend filtering the search by location, so that you can find free moving boxes in your general vicinity.
Next time you’re wondering where to get moving boxes, check your local online community groups for answers. If you haven’t joined the Nextdoor.com neighborhood hub, then you should. Not only can you find helpful information about the area (think: city news, neighborhood updates, local services, etc.), but you can also find loads of free stuff being given away by your neighbors. Oftentimes, this includes moving boxes. The community platform hosts a “Classifieds” section devoted to goods for sale and free giveaways. Think of it as one big online garage sale in your neighborhood. If you don’t see any free moving boxes listed in the Classifieds section, simply post what you’re looking for and neighbors should respond quickly.
OfferUp is a mobile marketplace app that has absorbed another, similar app, Letgo. If you type “free boxes” in the search window, you’ll see all the local listings for the boxes people are willing to let go of.
You can be sure that large retailers will have a massive amount of boxes sitting around in the back. After all, they’re called “big-box stores” for a reason. With shipments coming in every day, you should be able to find just about every kind of box at your local Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Office Depot, Target, K-Mart and Best Buy – among others. Also consider dollar stores, shoe stores, sporting goods stores and gigantic home supply stores like IKEA. Pro tip: If you come to the store when the employees are stocking the shelves you can fill your cart with boxes in minutes. Of course, always ask first.
Live near a wine and liquor store? It’s not a bad idea to pop in and ask the manager if you can take some boxes off their hands. Liquor stores receive a slew of shipments every week, which can easily be turned into moving boxes. Boxes from liquor stores are partitioned, so they could be good for packing wine glasses and other fragile items. Larger liquor stores receive more boxes than they know what to do with, so don’t be shy about asking!
Large-chain bookstores and small, locally-owned bookstores, alike, should have plenty of boxes you can use to pack up your knick-knacks, smaller items and (of course) books. You can also be sure that these heavy duty boxes will be anything but flimsy, given how heavy books happen to be. Keep in mind that you can ask local college and university bookstores for extra boxes as well.
Both large grocery store chains and small grocers should have plenty of large boxes up for grabs. Grocery stores receive shipments weekly, sometimes daily, to maintain a fresh produce inventory, so there’s no telling how many sturdy boxes they recycle every day. Next time you are grocery shopping, we recommend letting a manager know that you’re moving soon, and would love to take those extra grocery store boxes off of their hands. They’ll happily let you take the boxes home with you.
Similar to the other large retailers, chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS receive regular shipments of goods several times a week. You’ve probably noticed those large dumpsters behind the store filled to the brim with flattened boxes. We recommend calling ahead or asking inside the store what would be a good time to get some boxes so it coincides with the next shipment.
Arts, crafts and hobby stores
Try your nearest Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Jo-Ann or Utrecht store. Like other retailers, they get a lot of shipments of boxes of various sizes. So whether you need large moving boxes or small moving boxes, you should be able to findthe box sizes you need.
Neighborhood coffee shops, both large chains like Starbucks and small-biz local ones, receive regular shipments of supplies like coffee, coffee-making supplies, food, and so on. You can score a range of different sizes of boxes, small ones in particular.
Like with the liquor stores, bars are great spots to scout for free moving boxes, those with partitions in particular (great for glasses). You just need to ask about the days the shipments come so you’re not too late. Smaller businesses tend to get rid of their boxes quickly as they don’t have the space to store them. And, if you happen to be moving around a holiday, even better. St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl are especially big drinking holidays, and bars stock up accordingly.
Restaurants – fast-food restaurants in particular – get a ton of perishable shipments pretty much daily. That means a regular influx of boxes – and a good resource to get free moving boxes. Just stay away from the boxes that have food stains on them as you’ll be risking your stuff smelling like whatever leaked in that box.
Why not use boxes from your workplace? With reams of paper being delivered every single day, you’re sure to find a slew of paper boxes with lids laying around and file boxes. If you work in a large office, chances are good that they have a recycling room somewhere in the building.
Recycling drop-off points
Ever been to a recycling drop-off location? It’s like hitting the moving box jackpot. Most cities have multiple recycling drop-off locations that accept flattened corrugated cardboard. Assuming these boxes are in good enough shape to use again, you’re likely to find multiple moving boxes for your relocation.
Local auto parts, auto repair, and oil change and brake shops regularly receive shipments of car parts and supplies. If you go in and ask, you might score some large boxes.
Apartment complexes tend to have a lot of people moving in and out, which makes them a good source to get some free boxes. You can either look for recycling bins on premises (ask for permission first) or ask at the apartment complex office.
If you are moving around the beginning or the end of the school year, college dorms will see a lot of students moving in or out. You should be able to find both large moving moves and small moving boxes.
Friends and family
The easiest way to find free boxes is by simply asking your friends and family. Knock on doors, text, and call around to see if anyone has extra boxes from recent deliveries, or possibly from moving, themselves. In today’s world, where everyone is plugged in 24/7, you can also just post a status on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to let friends know that you are looking for moving supplies.
Yard and garage sales
Yard and garage sales are guaranteed to have boxes, so stop by and ask if they’d be willing to part with a few. If you come toward the end of the sale, even better.
Someone in the neighborhood who just moved
Maybe it’s your neighbor next door or someone down the block – take a walk in your neighborhood and see if anyone has moved recently. The telltale sign would be boxes set out for recycling on the curb (we recommend asking for permission to take them). Or ask around to see who had just moved in. Chances are, they have a ton of boxes they cannot wait to get rid of.
Chances are good that there are multiple elementary, middle and high schools in your area. Call up the front office, and ask if they have any boxes lying around. The beginning of the school year is a good time to check, as the school will be getting a slew of book and school supply shipments in the fall.
Books are heavy, so the boxes they’re packed into must be sturdy enough to accommodate the weight. They will be perfect for your books and smaller items, as well as clothes and shoes.
Other ways to get boxes
Save the boxes you receive in the mail.
Now is a good time to start hoarding the boxes your orders come in via mail. Amazon Prime, USPS Priority Mail packages, etc. Instead of recycling, keep them. And keep the packing paper that came inside the box, too.
Rent plastic moving boxes.
Places like U-Haul, Rent a Green Box and Bungo Box are good options if you need to rent some plastic moving boxes. Check out our roundup of the 8 of the best companies for plastic moving boxes. Need to rent other supplies? Check out our recommendations on where to rent moving blankets, equipment and other moving supplies.
Purchase what you’re lacking from a retailer that has good prices.
Sourcing free moving supplies takes time and effort. Some moving supplies, like specialty boxes, will be hard to come by. If you are unable to find anything for free, try Amazon. The online retailer has it all. And if you’re a Prime member, shipping will be free. Walmart has all sorts of moving supplies, including a number of different moving box brands. For standard-size moving boxes, you can’t beat Home Depot’s selection. The store also sells specialty boxes, dish-packing kits and other packing supplies. For moving kits, U-Haul is the place to go. Finally, Staples is your friendly neighborhood retailer that also stocks all sorts of moving supplies. If you don’t mind paying for your moving supplies, you can find everything you need at these five retailers.
The do’s and don’ts of moving box hunting
- Do ask permission before taking boxes – Whatever you do, don’t just show up at a retailer or office and start taking boxes. You also shouldn’t rifle through a business’ or person’s trash without permission. Not only is this dishonest, but it’s also downright illegal in many cases. If you’d like to take free boxes from a store or office, we recommend calling ahead of time to ask permission. In addition, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they even have free boxes to give you in the first place. For all you know, the store may have recycled most of this week’s boxes already, and you may need to wait until next week to stock up.
- Don’t take boxes that are broken – Boxes that are torn up or falling apart simply won’t hold up well during a move. After all, moving is rough enough on your belongings as it is without adding a less-than-sturdy box to the mix. Make sure that any and all free moving boxes that you’re using are in good condition. Moving boxes that are wet, warped, broken or torn should not be used to move belongings.
- Do advertise that you’re looking for free boxes – Having trouble finding free boxes? Don’t forget that you can also advertise your request on a number of online sites. From Facebook Marketplace to Nextdoor.com, let neighbors know that you’re on the hunt for moving boxes. There may be plenty of people who have just moved but simply haven’t advertised their free moving boxes yet. Trust us – in all likelihood, they would love to have someone take those boxes off their hands. By making your needs known to the public, you’re likely to find free boxes more quickly and efficiently than by searching various retailers and offices.
- Don’t use boxes that are dirty or smelly – In addition to avoiding boxes that are in poor condition, we recommend not using boxes that are dirty or smelly. Leaky boxes that were previously holding food or items that emitted a strong odor should be especially avoided. Otherwise, your household belongings will end up smelling like whatever was in those boxes previously (and who wants that?). To avoid dirty or smelly boxes, we recommend not picking up boxes that have been sitting in trash cans and avoiding boxes that have food or drink stains on them.
- Do be careful when accepting boxes from strangers – When box hunting, make sure to use good old common sense before picking up boxes from people you don’t know. For instance, if picking up boxes from a Facebook Marketplace ad, we recommend bringing a friend and not going by yourself. Make sure you’re also in a well-lit public area, if possible.
- Use Moving.com’s box calculator – Before box hunting, make sure you have a rough estimate of just how many boxes you’re going to need. Fortunately, our free and easy-to-use box calculator will give you a good estimate of how many packing boxes you need. All you have to do is enter the number of bedrooms in your home, the type of lifestyle you live, the number of people living in your household and your packing style. From this information, Moving.com’s box calculator should be able to give you a rough estimate of the number of boxes you’ll need to complete your move.
Our website makes it easy to find and book the best moving company for the job. To find a reliable movers, start by getting a moving quote. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!