Various Cardboard Boxes

Moving Boxes: Free, Cheap & Easy Options for Your Big Move

Finding boxes is one of the biggest challenges when preparing for a move. First of all, it poses a lot of questions:

Fortunately, there are a handful of great places to find affordable and, yes, even free moving boxes so you don’t have to break the bank on purchasing these necessities.

Where Do I Get Moving Boxes?

Regular moving boxes are typically sold in bundles — the larger the bundle, the better the unit price. That doesn’t mean you should stock up on boxes way beyond your needs just to get a better deal. Buying individual moving boxes is also not a practical or economical idea, so you’re left with two main choices:

Get bundles of moving boxes

They have to be just large enough to cover all your belongings. You will find these both online and offline — think Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart and the like. Note that you will need several box sizes, because heavy items like books are better off in a small box, while large but lightweight items like duvets and pillows fare better in large or even extra-large boxes.

Now, if you only have a studio or a small apartment and get a bundle for each size, you will easily exceed your budget and have a large number of leftover boxes in the end so it’s important to assess your belongings before purchasing bundles of any kind.

Purchase moving kits

This means you will get a mix of box sizes and types. Some moving companies and hypermarkets even estimate your moving supply needs based on home size. U-Haul takes this concept a step further and also allows you to tailor the moving kit to your needs.

You can get anything from a College Kit with just a few boxes, a small bubble wrap roll, clear tape and markers, up to a 4+ Bedroom Master Pak that includes specialty boxes like large wardrobe boxes, glass packing kits and sealable mattress bags.

Finding boxes is one of the biggest challenges when preparing for a move. Fortunately, there are a handful of great places to find affordable or free moving boxes so you don’t have to break the bank on purchasing these necessities.

How Much Do Moving Boxes Cost?

Box sizes from different suppliers will vary slightly in size but more so in price, as we’re about to see. However, no matter where you get your moving boxes from, you shouldn’t pay more than this:

Box Type


Best For

Price Range

Small moving box

1.3 to 1.5 cu ft

Kitchen gadgets, DVDs, books

$1 to $1.75

Medium moving box

3 cu ft

Decorative items, towels

$1.65 to $2.30

Large moving box

4.5 cu ft

Drapes, bedding, small appliances

$2.10 to $3

X-Large moving box

6 to 6.5 cu ft

Pillows, comforters, sports equipment

$3.5 to $4

Small wardrobe box

8 cu ft

Up to 65 lbs of clothes on hangers

$10.5 to $15

Mirror/Picture box

2.3 to 3.9 cu ft

Pictures, mirrors, framed artwork

$7 to $8

These prices are based on the average prices found from Walmart, Home Depot and U-Haul.

How Many Boxes Do I Need?

The number of boxes you’ll need depends on many variables. For instance, if you’re a minimalist, you may need fewer boxes than if you have lots of belongings. Consider the following base estimates to begin your personal calculations:

  • Studio apartment: 10 small and 15 medium moving boxes
  • 1-2 bedroom home: 15 small, 25 medium and 10 large moving boxes + 3 large wardrobe boxes
  • 3-4 bedroom home: 20 small, 35 medium, 15 large and 5 extra-large moving boxes + 5 book boxes + 4 large wardrobe boxes
  • 4+ bedroom home: 30 small, 40 medium, 20 large and 10 extra-large moving boxes + 10 book boxes + 5 large wardrobe boxes

various sized moving boxes

Where Can I Get Free Packing Boxes?

If you’re looking to save on packing supplies — and why wouldn’t you? — know that there are plenty of places where you can get free cardboard boxes for moving.

First of all, take a look around the office or even around your house. You may have useful boxes lying around unaccounted for. If that’s not the case, or you haven’t found enough, it’s time to move to the second phase of box hunting: asking around.

Not sure where to find empty boxes free of charge? Here are some of the best places to check:

  • People you know: Friends, family and neighbors who recently moved are your best bet.
  • Craigslist: Head to the free section to see if anyone is giving away boxes.
  • Retailers: Ask at your local grocery or liquor stores — they may have some cardboard boxes you can take off their hands. Pet stores and retail giants are also good bets.
  • Apartment complexes: Any place with a lot of tenants is likely to have extra boxes lying around. Head into the nearest apartment complex office and speak to the manager.
  • Recycling centers: Ask the attendant if they have boxes or take a look into the cardboard box bin and see what’s available. You may also find cardboard recycling dumpsters behind retail stores, but only take what you can reach. Never climb into a dumpster!

Note: When you go to pick up the boxes, you’ll want to make sure they’re in good condition so that you don’t arrive at your new home with damaged belongings.

Where Is the Best Place To Buy Boxes?

If you decide to hire a moving company, they will typically provide boxes and moving supplies, like bubble wrap and packaging paper, but if you’re planning a DIY move there are plenty of places to get boxes for moving. If you weren’t lucky enough on your free box hunt, then buying it will be.

Here are some of the best places to purchase moving boxes:

  • U-Haul: This is best if you’re renting a storage unit or moving truck. You can also check their moving kits — while this doesn’t necessarily get you a better deal, it recommends packing supplies you may have overlooked. Isn’t it easier to get it all in one place?
  • Home Depot: This is best if you need to check box details online before you purchase in-store. You can also have them delivered to your doorstep. Note that choosing a bundle of 10, 20 or more boxes does not get you a better unit price.
  • Amazon: This is best if you want your moving boxes delivered as fast as possible. You also get a lot of choices in terms of size, type and sturdiness. Unfortunately, it comes with a heftier price tag, so not your first choice if you’re looking for cheap boxes online.
  • Walmart: Many Walmart stores are open 24/7, so they may be your best bet if you run out of packing boxes or other moving supplies the night before your move. They also tend to carry some of the cheapest options out there — Pen+Gear is their store brand for school and office supplies.
  • This is your go-to if you want to buy moving supplies kits. They range from dorm/college to 10+ room moving kits that include bubble wrap, packing tape, markers, moving labels and packing paper. You can also build your own kit for a better price than buying individual supplies.

Now that you’re all set, be sure to check out our guide for packing moving boxes next!

Categories Moving