The secret for keeping the costs and the chaos of moving under control is good planning and starting the process early on. Packing as much of your stuff as possible in advance and putting it in a self storage unit located close to your new home will make the actual moving day a lot easier on everyone.

However, this means that you are going to need a lot of boxes. Purchasing moving boxes can be quite expensive – the price of a small kit of moving boxes, enough for a one-bedroom apartment, hovers around $40 on websites such as Amazon or Walmart. Of course, for most people, one kit is not nearly enough.

The larger the house – and the family – the more boxes you need, and the costs keep piling up. There is also the environmental cost of using dozens of boxes to consider, beside the actual money involved. If you’re planning to move in the near future, start searching for free boxes – you’re helping not only your budget but also the environment. Here’s where you can find them:

1. Stores and supermarkets

Merchandise gets delivered to stores and supermarkets all the time and, obviously, all those products are packed in boxes. Most stores will gladly give you boxes for free. Some of them even have special areas where they put boxes for customers to pick up. If that’s not the case, simply approach an employee and ask them whether they have a policy about giving away empty boxes.

The good thing about hunting for boxes at stores and supermarkets is that you can find a large variety of sizes. Home improvement and hardware stores have many large items delivered to them, so they are the perfect places to search for oversized boxes you can use to easily pack pillows, duvets, sheets or towels.

Supermarkets might have empty apple crates available, which are a lot more durable than regular cardboard boxes and perfect for transporting books and other heavy items. Liquor stores also have durable and even padded crates that protect bottles from breaking. Such crates are ideal for safely moving glassware and other fragile things.

Don’t limit your search to boxes – stores might have other moving supplies to give away, such as large bags, coat hangers, or Styrofoam you can use to protect your stuff.

2. Online adds, groups or apps

There’s a multitude of online resources where you find free moving boxes. The first step is to simply check out online ads on Craigslist and similar websites. People who recently moved want to get rid of all the boxes they used and, most of the time, they are willing to give them away for free to whoever comes to pick them up.

Freecycle is a nonprofit network of people giving away stuff they no longer need in order to increase the items’ lifespan and keep them off landfills. It’s a good place to find free boxes or other supplies you might need during moving. Local Facebook groups or apps like Nextdoor are other good places for finding free boxes.

3. Your workplace

Chances are your workplace gets plenty of things delivered, such as office supplies, machinery, tools, and so on – depending on the type of business it’s in. Therefore, there are probably lots of boxes you can pick up. Ask the employees that handle deliveries about this – businesses normally recycle cardboard boxes, but it makes more eco-sense to use them multiple times prior to recycling.

4. Recycling drop-off spots

While we’re on the subject of recycling, the drop-off locations for recycling cardboard are other places where you can find boxes. Oftentimes people leave larger cardboard boxes next to the recycling box, as they are too large to fit inside. If you have such drop-off locations close to your daily route, it certainly doesn’t hurt to go and take a look from time to time.

Moving boxes

5. Apartment complexes

Apartment complexes can also be great places for finding empty cardboard boxes. Hundreds of people live in such a complex, and there’s a constant flux of residents moving in or out. Also, they obviously purchase plenty of stuff, so the chances of finding empty cardboard boxes are high. Contact the building administrator and ask where the residents leave their empty boxes – most buildings have designated areas where recyclables can be deposited – and whether it would be OK to take some of those boxes.

Collecting empty cardboard boxes in preparation for moving is the smart thing to do. Spending money on items you are going to use just once is a financial burden and has a negative impact on the environment. Don’t be shy when it comes to asking for boxes – most people and businesses will be happy to give them to you.  


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

Write A Comment