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Where to Find Free Packing and Moving Boxes

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Let’s face it — moving is expensive. Moving costs can vary depending on factors like the distance or the amount of stuff you’re moving. But at the end of the day, those costs can add up unexpectedly and exceed your moving budget. So if you welcome any opportunities to cut costs, here’s an easy place to start: free packing and moving boxes.

With a little bit of planning, creativity, and help from MYMOVE, you can get your hands on lightly used boxes and give your wallet a bit of a breather.

Determine How Many Packing and Moving Boxes You Need

When planning your next move, be proactive. Carefully determine the number of boxes you will need before rushing to the store and purchasing boxes and other moving supplies. Taking the time and patience to get organized will save you from spending unnecessarily.

To determine the number of packing and moving boxes you’ll need, start by creating a home inventory. This will help you know what stuff is moving with you. It’s also the perfect time to consider every item you own, and whether or not you should keep it, donate it, or toss it. Decluttering before a move will save you the headache (and backache) of moving things you don’t get any use out of.

You should complete your home inventory prior to any packing. Simply choose one room to start with and divide your paper into four columns: item, estimated value, condition, and location. Fill out this information for each item in the room that you plan on keeping. For items that will fit in a box, take note of their size and assign them a corresponding box number.

By making an educated guess of how much will fit in each box, you prevent the mistake of underestimating the number of boxes you may need or buying too many. Additionally, a detailed inventory makes it very easy to keep track of your belongings during a move (especially if you hire movers) and will help you find important items quickly.

Pro tip: Keep your home inventory on hand. You’ll want it for reference when you start shopping around for homeowners or renters insurance. 

Start by Asking Friends, Family, and Co-Workers

The easiest way to get your hands on free boxes and other moving supplies is by asking people you know. Often, people will break down moving boxes following their own move and, if they don’t recycle them, hold on to them. It’s likely many of your friends or coworkers have some old moving boxes hidden somewhere in their garage or shed.

Make a quick list of the people you know have recently moved and reach out to them. If you don’t know of anyone off the top of your head, post on social media. Make sure to ask for a specific number of boxes and be open to picking those boxes up yourself.

Also, be sure to note the condition of the boxes required. You don’t want boxes that are falling apart, growing mold, or are too dirty. Moving your valuables using free but damaged boxes that won’t hold up during the move isn’t worth the risk (or stress) of broken items.

Look for Free Moving Boxes Online

If you strike out with friends and family, or you got a few boxes but know that you need more, sit down in front of your computer and do a few minutes of research. There are a number of websites and apps filled with people trying to get rid of the pile of packing and moving boxes taking up space in their garage.

  1. Craigslist: To find free boxes on Craigslist, choose your location and look under the “For Sale” section. Under this section, you should see a link that reads “free.” Click on it and it will take you to a page advertising free goods in your area. Use the “search free stuff” bar to look for boxes.
  2. Freecycle: The Freecycle Network™ is a grassroots nonprofit made up of members who intentionally reuse items in order to keep waste out of landfills and reduce peoples’ ecological footprints. Freecycle is more popular in some states than others, but it’s worth seeing if there’s a community near you.
  3. Facebook Marketplace: This functions much like Craigslist and includes posts for free materials. There may not be any offers near you, but it’s worth checking back every couple of days to see what you can get your hands on.
  4. Community groups like Nextdoor: Limited community or neighborhood groups are booming in popularity, likely because each group is tailored to one specific neighborhood. This means whatever content anyone adds will only be viewed by a specific area of people, making it the perfect place to ask for boxes.
  5. Buying and selling apps, like 5miles, Offerup, and letGo: These are apps filled with people who want to get rid of things they don’t need. Take advantage of it and scour the app’s free materials section for boxes and other moving supplies.

Scope out Stores

Items are shipped to stores every day in cardboard boxes. Usually, those boxes are immediately disposed of — unless someone knows to ask for them. It may seem daunting to make this out-of-the-blue request to a store manager, but trust us — it never hurts to ask.

Make sure to go into the store with an idea of how many boxes you’ll need. Go up to the register and politely ask for a manager. Ask the manager if they have any boxes they’re planning on tossing.

If they don’t have any at the moment, ask what day they usually receive inventory. This will give you an idea of when to come back. You can always call the store on the day that they receive a new shipment and ask the manager to set aside used boxes for you.

If they do have boxes for you, make sure to pick them up immediately. If you can’t go right away, set up a time that you can drop by and adhere to it. Remember: The stores are doing you a big favor, so try to get the boxes off their hands as soon as possible.

Here are some stores you should visit:

  1. Bookstores
  2. Liquor stores
  3. Big box stores, like Sam’s Club and Costco

Don’t forget to check the condition of the boxes!

Check Out Your Local Recycling Plant

Before going to the recycling plant, check the hours online. Depending on where it is, you may need an employee’s permission to enter the facility gates or take anything. If you call ahead, you may be able to take home boxes that day.

Depending on your city and state, you may have a local recycling drop-off point. This is similar to the plant, except the recycling undergoes no changes and the drop off location and this area is less formal. Often times, as long as there is not a “no trespassing” sign, you can pick up whatever someone else has dropped off.

Be sure to double-check the quality of the boxes you choose before taking them home to pack with.

Still don’t have enough? Here are some places where you can buy boxes cheap:

If your search for free moving and packing boxes comes up short or you need to run last-minute to a store, there are places to find moving boxes for cheap. These boxes will have the benefit of being brand new, so you won’t have to worry about their condition.

Here are a few places you should check out:

  • Lowe’s: Standard moving boxes at Lowe’s range from $0.88 to $1.78 per box depending on size. Heavy-duty moving boxes range from $1.78 to $2.68 per box depending on size. A large wardrobe moving box with handles is $12.68 per box.
  • Amazon: Amazon sells various types of moving boxes in bulk. One Amazon seller sells 10 medium moving boxes for $22.60.
  • UBoxes: This online company sells a kit of boxes and materials that vary depending on the number of rooms in your house. To give you an idea of cost, the Economy package (meant for a one-bedroom house) costs $39.95 and includes five small moving boxes, 10 medium moving boxes, 110 yards of tape, and one Marker.
  • Used Cardboard Boxes: Used Cardboard Boxes’ 34-box, one-bedroom kit is priced at $76. It also includes two rolls of packing tape, six pounds of packing paper, two permanent markers, and two retractable blade box cutters.

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