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Moving Boxes: The Ultimate Guide on Getting Boxes and Box Types

Moving Boxes: The Ultimate Guide

Although moving boxes play an integral role in the vast majority of moves, it is surprising how they are almost an afterthought for homeowners who are packing up their possessions. This is truly unfortunate because using the right types of moving boxes can completely transform your move, making the entire process more streamlined and efficient. With any move, the task of procuring the right boxes will usually be up to you unless you purchase boxes from a moving company. Moving can become very expensive even before you take boxes into account. For those on a budget, it may make sense to opt for used boxes.

Where to Get Moving Boxes

There are a number of places where you can get boxes without spending a single dime. Here are a few to check out:boxes

  • Liquor Stores- Liquor stores are a great place to look if you are in need of sturdy boxes. However, more often than not, these boxes will not have lids and are generally small. Liquor stores typically get orders delivered numerous times per week, so you can usually always find boxes there.
  • Craigslist & Freecycle- Community-based websites like Craigslist and Freecycle more often than not will have someone wanting to give away free boxes. You can either search through the posts in the Free section of Craigslist, or post a Wanted listing. To search via Freecycle, you will need to join your local online Freecycle group and either browse the listings or post a wanted ad.
  • Office Building Complexes- Why not try your luck at your nearest office building? Businesses constantly get deliveries, and they don’t normally need the boxes after they unpack them. Make friends with the person at the front desk, and they should be able to help you out.
  • Local Grocery Stores- Grocery stores get multiple weekly deliveries. Talk to your local grocer to see what days their shipments come in on, and you could score a lot of free, sturdy boxes.
  • Facebook Community Groups- There are usually thousands and thousands of people in local Facebook community groups- selling, buying, and giving things away. You can either put up an ISO post, or look through the current posts to see if anyone is giving away free boxes.
  • Bookstores- Boxes at bookstores have to be incredibly sturdy to hold the weight of the books being shipped in them. If you are looking for some strong boxes to pack your heavy items in, this could be your golden ticket. Call and speak to the manager at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, and they may be able to give you their empty boxes.
  • Bars and Restaurants- Boxes used to transport French fries, canned goods, liquor and more are usually very strong and sturdy- ideal for moving your personal belongings to your new house or apartment. Contact the manager, and they will probably be more than happy for you to take them off of their hands.
  • Someone Who Just Moved- If you happen to have family members or friends who just moved, you may want to inquire about any extra boxes they may have. What better way to get free boxes than to ask the people closest to you? Besides, they should be more than willing to help you out.
  • Recycling Centers- Most recycling-conscious people will usually take their used moving boxes to their local recycling center. Check with the attendant, and get them to help you look in the cardboard bin.

If you can’t find any free boxes, there are a number of places that you can buy them from:

  • Your moving company
  • Order them online
  • Lowes, Home Depot or Walmart
  • UPS Store


Now that you know where to get your boxes, the question is- what kinds of boxes do you need? There are a MANY different kinds of boxes, all with unique purposes.

Different Types of Moving Boxes

  • Wardrobe Boxes- For those who possess a large collection of clothing, and even those with a more modest wardrobe, these boxes can truly be a miracle. Since you'll be able to hang your clothes in the box, you won't have to worry that your clothes will become wrinkled on the trip over to your new house. This is also an excellent time-saving option as it will allow you to simply transfer the hangers from the box to your new closet without having to worry about rehanging your entire wardrobe. Yet another bonus is that these boxes are constructed to accommodate the considerable weight of clothes with hangers. Anyone who is contemplating a serious move will want to look into purchasing wardrobe boxes.
  • Dish Packs- There's nothing worse than arriving at your new home and discovering that your plates have broken. Dish packs allow you to separate dishes and other delicate items so that they will remain in excellent condition while you move. When you're aiming to keep all your kitchenware in pristine shape, packaging your precious items with a dish pack is the only way to go. Because kitchen items are delicate, factor in time to properly pack your dishes when you're moving. Although you may be pressed for time, it is crucial that this task is done correctly and properly packed up the evening before your move. If it helps, use a checklist to make sure that you're not forgetting anything important. When you're moving, it's easy for stress to mount up and make certain chores like packing up the dishes seem less important than they really are. Take the time to plan, allowing yourself to put away fragile items correctly. You may be surprised by this, but one of your enemies is empty space. When you pack all of your items so that they are tightly secured, you reduce the chances that they will jostle around during the move, causing damage to your valuables. In this scenario, bubble wrap will be your greatest ally.
  • Small Moving Boxes- These are used for books so often that you may even hear some movers referring to them as book boxes. Typically, you'll want to use small moving boxes to transport items that are smaller but tend to be on the heavier side. In addition to your books, you may want to use these boxes for transporting small electrical appliances, canned items, records and other possessions that may be on the smaller side but still weigh a decent amount.
  • Medium Moving Boxes- Usually, these boxes will measure about 3 cubic feet, and they'll serve as your workhorse boxes to hold everything but the kitchen sink. Speaking of the kitchen, they tend to be especially good at transporting kitchen products. From your pans and pots to your blenders and other accessories, medium-sized boxes are very versatile. As is the case with all moving boxes, you'll want to monitor the weight and make sure that each box is properly marked with its contents, giving you an advantage when it's time to unpack those items.
  • Larger Moving Boxes- These are excellent for transporting lighter, larger items. A great rule of thumb is to make sure that objects are getting lighter as the boxes are getting larger. Because larger boxes tend to be pricier and people often overestimate how many they will need, you probably want to take a good look around your home and calculate how many of the large boxes your move will require. Keep weight in mind, however. Although your professional mover will have tools on hand to help, ensure that the weight of the box is reasonable. Any mover will tell you that larger boxes packed with heavy items can often present hazards and even break.
  • Mattress Boxes- These days, many people put a lot of time and effort into purchasing the proper mattress in order to ensure excellent rest. Buying a mattress box has become increasingly popular, and moving companies offer a wide array of sizes.
  • Art Crates- If you're the kind of person who puts a lot of time and effort into acquiring beautiful art pieces, you'll definitely want to invest in the right kinds of shipping materials to transport artwork. Whether it's a sculpture or a painting, you should describe these special, fragile pieces to your movers ahead of time. Many customers fail to communicate just how important certain pieces are to them. As with all facets of the moving process, you'll find that in-depth communication is the best way to ensure that all your moving needs are met.
  • Plastic Bins- There are many reasons why you may want to opt for plastic bins instead of cardboard. Some people just prefer the look and feel of plastic bins when they're There are a few companies offering plastic bin rentals, which makes the process very convenient. However, one downside is that it can be more difficult to pack oddly shaped items into plastic bins, and you may find that it's pricier to purchase plastic boxes. For people who are packing away some of their goods in a storage unit, these types of bins can provide an excellent solution for long-term storage. Although your storage facility may be insured for disastrous events, you certainly don't want your wedding dress to get wet if something in the building goes wrong. Packing precious items in air-tight plastic bins rather than cardboard boxes will help protect your belongings from the elements.

Helpful resources:

  • Have no clue how many of each kind box you need? This handy calculator will tell you exactly what you need, down to how many of each box and even the packing supplies needed for each room.
  • View packing tips, including a room by room packing guide, tips for a DIY move and more, to help you get organized and properly packed away.