Moving isn't going to happen without boxes. Lots and lots of boxes.
The average, one-bedroom apartment needs close to 30 boxes of varying sizes to get everything moved out. You may even want specialty boxes like those that hold hanging clothes or those reinforced for breakables. That's a significant collection
Paying for such a high number of boxes can get expensive. Throw in all the other moving supplies you'll need, and movers themselves, and things start to add up. To save a little money, consider exploring options for free moving boxes.
Scoring free moving boxes doesn't have to get challenging if you know where to look. There are more potential spots in your own neighborhood than you think.
No matter what city you live in, Craigslist can get you access to free moving boxes.
Go under the 'for sale' section, click on 'free' and type in the word "boxes." All available free moving boxes in your area will show up in the results. You can also post, within Craigslist, that you're looking for free boxes in the 'wanted' section, so you can get direct responses from people who can help.
Most postings for free moving boxes pop up at the end of weekends or the start of new weeks, as people who've recently moved make progress unpacking their own stuff. They'll want to quickly get rid of their empty boxes for sure.
The best part of liquor store boxes is that many come with built-in separators. This keeps the bottles safe during delivery, but also makes it easy for you to pack up your own glassware.
Liquor stores are a well-known supplier of free boxes, so take some time to go to your neighborhood shop and speak to a manager or the owner. You may get priority if they feel like they know you. Make sure to ask the best day to come, and where to find the boxes so you won't disturb the flow of business.
The box supply stays steady at grocery stores thanks to their need to constantly get in fresh produce and other inventory. They can end up with plenty of excellent empties every day.
The best way to get access to these free moving boxes is to ask for them when you're already at the store doing your shopping. The manager will see that you're a regular customer and, even though you're moving soon, will most likely be happy to let you take their empty boxes home with you.
If you have a membership to Costco or Sam's Club, you know inventory is constantly coming in, and there are boxes everywhere. While some get kept for shoppers to use at check-out, the big ones you can use to move are not.
You may get lucky any day of the week visiting a wholesale club and asking if they have any boxes you can take off their hands.
The best part about super centers like Walmart or Target is they often get deliveries every day of the week. However, it's common for them to unload at night, which means your ideal time to collect free moving boxes is after dark. For example, the best time to grab boxes from Walmart is around 10 p.m.
To get the timing just right, ask a manager about when it's okay to come by and collect empty boxes.
For those in the know, any dollar store is a goldmine of stuff. It's also a treasure trove of boxes. Stores like Dollar Tree bring in a huge inventory, which translates to a massive volume of boxes. If you get the go-ahead to take from the pile, you'll basically run off with as many free moving boxes as you can carry.
There are always tons of boxes laying around stores like these, so do a search of a few in your area and try to visit them all. You may grab all the boxes you need from this one type of shop.
The best thing about books is they are heavy. This means the boxes they arrive in are nice and sturdy, perfect for you to use for your own weighted items. You may find an unlimited supply of boxes from other sources, but without a few that can really support a little weight, you'll still lack what you really need.
Bookstores can offer up a great selection of sturdy free moving boxes, as long as you're on top of their shipment schedule. You want to get on this goldmine early to avoid any competition.
When thinking about boxes from stores like OfficeMax, one particular type comes to mind — copy paper boxes. These are perfect moving boxes. They have lids, they're sturdy, can hold heavier items and their size is perfect for books.
While some of these boxes get used by the stores themselves to hand off projects to customers, they usually have more than they can use. Take advantage of their oversupply.
Tuesday is a popular delivery day for many retail stores, so when it comes to clothing shops, give your neighborhood ones a call the day before. Ask if they'll have empty boxes that you can come collect. If they give you the okay, confirm the best time and where you can find the boxes.
The good thing about using clothing store boxes is that there's less chance the boxes will get wet or ruined before you can get to them. They're only shipping dry goods after all, so no leaks or soggy cardboard to sift through.
You probably won't find as many free moving boxes at pet stores as you will in other retail locations, but it's still a stop worth making. Try going in the morning to ensure you have the largest supply to take from and make sure to check with the manager before grabbing and going.
Pet stores are a great place to stop for smaller boxes, probably for packing up desk drawers, kitchen utensils and anything else that doesn't require a big box to move it in.
If you've got a lot of small kitchen items, including your spice cabinet, that need packing up, grabbing empty boxes from a coffee shop can prove very helpful. These boxes already hold food items, come in all different sizes and are perfect for common kitchen items. You may even score some packing materials if your free boxes held coffee mugs and other fragile items.
A coffee shop like Starbucks gets shipments two to three times per week, meaning you can make a few trips and quickly collect all the moving boxes you'll need.
The great thing about looking for free moving boxes at a farmer's market is you can also shop for fresh produce as you go.
Often, the stands at a farmer's market accrue empty boxes quickly as they sell their wares. You'll often see empty boxes stacking up at the back of a booth. When this happens, casually ask if you can take those boxes off their hands. You're really providing them a service. They'll have less to pack up and carry out without having to deal with their empty boxes.
It's pretty easy to find people online who want to give away stuff thanks to apps like Letgo and OfferUp. Both of these apps are great for furnishing a new apartment as well as searching for free moving box listings in the area.
Search results can include those giving away a ton of boxes, but also people with specialty boxes they want to get rid of. Searching here can help you find those odd-sized boxes, that cost a lot to buy new, for free.
This type of service is amazing for people who need free moving boxes, but don't have the time to go from place to place asking if there are any available. Specifically, U-Haul Customer Connect lets you search for free U-Haul moving boxes in your area using your zip code or city.
Keeping this service in mind is great, no matter how many times you move, since it works all over the country.
You can find free moving boxes in the most unusual places. That includes apps that are into recycling and being environmentally conscious. Freecycle.org, for example, focuses on keeping recyclable items out of local landfills. This includes cardboard.
Joining your local group allows you to post that you're looking for free boxes nearby, but make sure you read the fine print before accepting an offer. Some freecycle groups require you to give away an item before you can claim something for yourself.
If you have a local recycling center, swing by and speak to an attendant about whether you're allowed to collect empty boxes left on site. If there isn't an attendant, take a quick walk around and see if there's anything available. As long as there are no signs saying otherwise, you can take any empty moving boxes you find.
Since the boxes you'll find here are usually already broken down, make sure you take a close look through the stacks before you take anything home. You don't want to grab a pile of boxes, only to discover they're too damaged to tape back together once you get home.
Leaning on your friends to collect free moving boxes is totally acceptable. Putting the word out on your social media channels that you're in need, makes it easy for friends or family members, who've recently moved, to come through for you. Not only that, but your network can also push your message out to their contacts, casting an even wider net.
Make sure you include neighborhood Facebook groups and your local Nextdoor community when you're posting. They're both great resources for free stuff.
When in doubt about where to find free moving boxes, it doesn't hurt to take a look around your community. If you find someone new moving into your building or neighborhood, walk up and introduce yourself. Share some information about the place, and then ask if you can take their empty boxes off their hands.
You can also contact the property manager at your new place to ask if anyone else in the building is moving in before you. See if management can help coordinate taking those boxes and making them available for you to collect and use for your move.
Working in an office building means seeing packages come in and out every day. Larger buildings even have their own mailrooms you can inspect for free moving boxes as well.
Talk to whoever in your office handles deliveries as well as the person who picks up empty boxes. See if either can help you set up a way to collect empties to take home. If you notice unused boxes hanging around outside people's offices, you can also ask them if you can take those boxes with you.
If your move lines up with the start of a new school year, check those near to you for empty boxes. Many teachers order materials for their classrooms around the start of the year. Additionally, schools place orders for supplies in bulk for the gym and cafeteria. That adds up to a lot of empty boxes that are just heading to the trash.
Schools are often pretty willing to pass on what they don't need, but make sure you ask before taking.
When it comes to collecting moving boxes, sometimes not having to pay for them isn't always a good thing. This is why it's important to inspect all boxes before bringing them home. You don't want to end up with boxes that smell or are in such poor condition that they can't get reused.
It's also a good idea to estimate how many boxes you'll need before you start going out to get them. You don't want to grab too few and end up scrounging last minute for more, or so many that you have to get rid of extras at the last minute. For some help estimating, you can use this tool from Updater. It gives you box estimates based on the square footage of your home.
Even with free moving boxes, you need to have a budget that includes the other costs of moving. This means factoring in prices for additional supplies and a method of moving itself.
If you're doing it on your own, price out the cost of a moving truck big enough to take everything in one trip. It will save you time, and truck rentals are usually on an hourly basis.
The cost of hiring movers varies by how many you need and for how long. Local moving companies typically charge $30 to $50 per mover per hour, which includes a moving truck.
The supplies necessary for a successful move can get costly, so price compare when you make your supply list, which should include:
Bubble wrap, while a popular packing accessory, is intentionally left off this list. Packing paper performs the same function and is much less expensive. A large package of about 200 sheets can cost around $14.
With all the prep work done, it's time to get packing. It's best to approach this task with a strategy that helps you stay organized. Make sure you label boxes and consider keeping a packing list inventory of what's in each box.
Your move should go well with all this prep, so make sure you share the love once it's over and you're all unpacked. Post your free moving boxes on social media or within one of the apps mentioned above for someone else to use.