Top 25 Places To Find Free Moving Boxes

Between the internet and a variety of local shops, there are plenty of places to hook you up with that precious cardboard commodity on the cheap.

moving boxes packed in truck

An average American moves homes about 11 times in their lifetime. Let’s say you are going to be an average American and move 11 times in your lifetime; you’ll need about 750 boxes (more about that later).

By the time you’re done, the amount you’ll spend on them could be quite a bit.

However, with a little planning and creativity, you could reduce the cost of every move by getting your moving boxes for free or for next to nothing.

Between the internet and a variety of local shops, there are plenty of places to hook you up with that precious cardboard commodity on the cheap.

Luckily, in this post, we lay out 25 places where you can score free or very cheap moving boxes.

Boxes are Kind of Expensive

Who would have thought a little cardboard could be so pricey? But it turns out the average move typically requires a few hundred dollars’ worth of packing materials.

Cardboard boxes can quickly bump up the moving budget. A single move could require a ‘kit’ with 68 boxes if you were moving out of a typical three-bedroom house. This would set you back around $161 minimum (Source).

Note:

Before we jump right in, there is one important thing to mention when choosing where to get boxes.

If you’re moving locally (30 miles or so), most boxes will serve you just fine – the freer the better.

However, if you’re moving out of state, you’ll want to be a little more careful when searching for boxes. Loose packing is the number one way items get damaged during a move, and boxes play a big role.

If you use boxes that are made of weak cardboard or use too many different shaped and sized boxes, it can make packing everything tightly a challenge.

To help make sure you find the best boxes, we’ve included some notes on quality and size for the typical boxes at all 25 places on this list.

If you end up wanting to buy some boxes, we recommend checking out the professional box packages at UBoxes.com.

Alright, here’s a quick list if you want to jump around. Otherwise, scroll through, and we’ll get started.

  1. Craigslist
  2. Social Media
  3. Liquor Stores
  4. Bookstores
  5. Amazon Boxes
  6. Pharmacy
  7. Home Improvement Stores
  8. U-Haul Box Exchange
  9. Grocery Store
  10. Retail Stores
  11. Your Office
  12. Freecycle
  13. Yard Sales
  14. Apartment Complexes
  15. Walmart
  16. Someone Who’s Just Moved
  17. College Residences
  18. Schools
  19. Apps with Free Listings
  20. Nextdoor.com
  21. Recycling Drop-off Points
  22. Copy Centers
  23. Ecobox
  24. Container Exchanger
  25. Cheap Cheap Moving Boxes

1) Always Check on Craigslist

Quality: Mixed bag

Craigslist is a dumping ground for free stuff and moving boxes are no exception. People frequently post “curb alerts” letting you know when and where they’ll be leaving free boxes out on the curb.

The quality of the boxes can vary greatly, so use your best judgment.

craigslist free moving boxes

2) Get on that Social Media

Quality: Typically high-quality, lightly used boxes

Moving is one of those times it’s acceptable to shamelessly use social media for personal gain.

Post on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else your friends hang out asking if anyone has any boxes lying around. You’d be surprised how often people have spare boxes or know someone who just moved.

Who knows, you may even be able to sucker someone into helping you pack as well!

Check out the McDonalds Fry Box Appreciation Society’s Facebook page for examples of people looking for free moving boxes using social media.

social media post moving boxes

3) Visit Liquor Stores

liquor store boxes stacked
Quality: Sturdy boxes of varying sizes

No, the liquor store isn’t just the place you go to relieve some moving day stress. It actually has another important purpose: free boxes!

Liquor stores often have boxes right behind the counter or in a pile near the checkout. Since the boxes are built to carry glass they tend to be very sturdy. Perfect for moving!

Insider tip: Maker’s Mark and Crown Royal boxes come with cardboard dividers making them ideal for packing plates and kitchenware.

4) Checkout Bookstores

Quality: Sturdy and smaller boxes

Bookstores aren’t as prevalent as they used to be but if you have a local bookshop or Barnes & Noble nearby they can be a treasure trove of quality boxes.

Book boxes tend to be smaller and built to hold a lot of weight.

5) Hoard Amazon Boxes

amazon boxes robot

Quality: High-quality, small to very large boxes

We don’t typically suggest hoarding, but in this case, we’re going to make an exception. If your move isn’t coming up for a while be sure to hold on to boxes you get from deliveries.

Amazon, in particular, uses some of the best quality boxes around to make their deliveries.

Plus, it gives you an excuse to order online rather than go to the store.

6) Get to the Pharmacy

Quality: Big assortment of varying size and quality boxes

While you’re stocking up on Advil and anti-anxiety meds in preparation for the move, take a look around and see if the drug store has any boxes lying around.

You can also ask the clerk when they expect a big delivery. Chances are they’ll be a lot of leftover boxes once they get done stocking the shelves.

Pharmacies tend to get boxes of all shapes and sizes, so they can be especially good if you have some large or irregular items. Just be sure the boxes you grab aren’t too flimsy.

7) Hit the Lowes & Home Depot

Quality: High-quality, big selection

lowes home improvement storefront

This is a tricky one because hardware stores also sell moving boxes in the store. Employees might not be as eager to give you their boxes when you can just as easily buy them right there.

You’ll have to use your best salesmanship here to convince the store manager to let you have the boxes. You may have better luck trying a smaller local hardware store.

That being said, these stores can be a treasure trove of awesome boxes. Everything from appliance sized boxes to free boxes for electronics can be had.

8) Try U-Haul Box Exchange

Quality: High-quality, professional supplies

U-Haul moving box exchange

U-Haul is used for millions of moves every year and that means a lot of their customers have boxes they no longer need.

This being the case, the good people at U-Haul decided to set up a box exchange on their website where people can offer up their used moving boxes and supplies to those who are planning a move.

While we commend U-Haul’s efforts, there doesn’t seem to be many postings in most areas. Either way, it’s definitely worth a quick check to see if you can get lucky.

9) Check the Grocery Store

Quality: Varying size and quality with potential risks

Since grocery stores get deliveries almost daily they get recommended often as a good place to go fishing for moving boxes. While this is true, before you go running off to the local grocery there are a few things to keep in mind.

grocery banana boxes

  • Grocery boxes often get wet which weakens the cardboard
  • Food attracts pests that can stay in the boxes even after they’re emptied
  • The boxes tend to vary in greatly in size making them hard to stack nicely

A grocery store is definitely an option, although, it may not be the best one…

10) Peruse a Few Retail Stores

Quality: High-quality boxes of varying sizes

Retail stores tend to get new products shipped in all the time, which means they’re constantly throwing away boxes.

Walking into random stores in your area is one way to find some free boxes. You can also drive through the alleys around strip malls and find boxes piled up near the dumpsters.

Retailers tend to ship products in high-quality boxes to avoid damage, so you can often find great boxes at them.

11) Look Around Your Office

Quality: File boxes are great for moving

office space moving

If you’re in an office setting chances are you have empty file boxes stacked up somewhere. Assuming your boss says it’s cool, be sure to grab as many as you can.

File boxes are uniform in size and fairly sturdy making them great for moving.

12) Join Your Local Freecycle

Quality: High-quality, professional moving boxes

Freecycle is a nonprofit connecting individuals in neighborhoods to help them give away and get all kinds of items for free. The best part: membership is free.

The Freecycle communities are fairly active and it’s not hard to find people giving away great condition moving boxes.

freecycle logo

13) Call Some Yard Sales

Quality: Varying quality and sizes

Yard sales typically mean an attic or garage is getting cleaned out which also means there will likely be some empty boxes to be had.

Chasing down yard sales can be a major time suck, so it’s worth it to call ahead and see if they have any old boxes.

Keep in mind boxes that have sat in a garage or basement for a long time may not be in ideal condition for a move.

yard sale sign

14) Apartment Complexes Near Months End

Quality: High-quality, professional moving boxes

Apartment complexes have leases constantly turning over and this means a lot of people are always moving in and out.

If you live near any large apartment buildings there’s a good chance you will find dumpsters stacked with free boxes around the end and beginning of new months.

15) Free Boxes From Walmart

Quality: High-quality boxes of varying sizes

If you plan on getting free boxes from Walmart, think again. Walmart is ruthlessly efficient and will usually resell or recycle their old boxes.

Your best chance is to stop by Walmart around midnight when restocking the shelves is typically taking place. You may be able to find an employee who will take some pity on you.

16) Ask If People Know Someone Who Has Just Moved

Quality: Used boxes in varying condition and sizes

As people settle down into their new homes, they always try to get rid of their used moving boxes. If you keep your ears to the ground and your eyes open, you can find someone who has just moved into the neighborhood.

Don’t be coy about asking around because there’s always a good chance someone knows someone who just moved. Many of them would be glad if someone could get the used moving boxes out of their hands.

17) Visit College Residences

Quality: Varying quality and sizes

Students move into dorms or on-campus housing at the beginning of every school year. These can be great hunting spots for free moving boxes, especially since most students will just be looking to get rid of them.

If you live near a college or university campus, and your moving date coincides with the turn of a new school year, you can score some free moving boxes. Talk to the authorities to see if you can look around. Some colleges have designated drop off points, and most of them will be more than happy to let you collect them and take the problem of disposing of the boxes off their hands.

18) Try Schools near You

Quality: Varying quality and sizes

Your local elementary, middle, and high school probably has some boxes lying around. They often order regular supplies, particularly at the beginning of every school year. Many of their supplies come in sturdy cardboard boxes.

They’ll likely reuse most of them, but you can still find a few unused boxes to be had. Pop into one or two of them and talk to the administrative staff to see if you can get some free cardboard boxes.

19) Download Apps with Free Listings

Quality: Variety of used boxes in varying conditions and sizes

Almost everything you need is in someone else’s hands, and they may want something in exchange for it. But it doesn’t have to be hard cash.

Barter trade never really vanished, and there are plenty of apps and platforms where you can trade what you don’t want for what you need. Moving time seems to be the perfect time to find out what you need and what you don’t need. You could simply trade all those unneeded items for moving boxes. This will also ensure that you don’t waste space carrying stuff you don’t need.

An example of a battering platform is Trashbank.

20) Check with Neighbors at Nextdoor.com

Quality: Varying quality and sizes

Nextdoor.com is a private social network designed strictly for you and your neighbors.
Nearly 130,000 neighborhoods rely on Nextdoor.com to beef up safety, build stronger communities, and share recommendations for goods and services. You could borrow a book, find a baby sitter, or get used moving boxes from your neighborhood.

21) Find Recycling Drop-off Points near You

Quality: Varying quality and sizes

Cardboard boxes almost always end up in the recycle bins. If you aren’t lucky enough to find free moving boxes from any of the sources already mentioned, your local recycling center might just have something you can use.

Recycling bins aren’t as messy as the regular garbage bins so that you can check them out for cardboard boxes in good condition. But before you take them with you, inspect them carefully for infestation or damage.

22) Visit a Few Copy Centers

Quality: High quality, uniform size boxes

Copy centers have to constantly order a large number of laser, copier, and inkjet paper. Therefore, they usually have a large number of used copier paper boxes at their premises.

Visit a few local copy centers near you and find out if you can pick up some free boxes.

23) If You Must Buy, Check Ecobox

Quality: Very high quality, eco-friendly boxes or all sizes

If you must buy your moving boxes, then you’ll want to consider Ecobox, especially if you’re going to play your part in reducing “carbon footprint.” They specialize in purchasing and recycling used boxes, then reselling them at low prices.

Ecobox has a box for just about anything you’d want to pack and move, what with their stock of 1000-plus box sizes, and hundreds of related packaging supplies. Nothing is too small or too big.

24) Buy in Bulk at Container Exchanger

Quality: High quality, eco-friendly, and varying sizes

ContainerExchanger.com sells cardboard Gaylord boxes in bulk (from 200 pieces). Buying in bulk tends to be cheaper because the seller benefits from economies of scale.

Gaylord containers are sturdy cardboard boxes. They come in various styles, including boxes with partial bottoms, boxes with full bottoms, and multi-wall layers, among others.

You can search by length, width, or height, which can be useful if you are looking to get boxes to carry specific items. And when you are done, you can sell them off or easily store them by stacking them on top of each other.

25) Find Cheap Cheap Moving Boxes

Quality: Top quality, varying sizes

CheapCheapMovingBoxes.com is one of the top, factory-direct suppliers of moving boxes and all related packing supplies like packing tape, bubble rolls, stretch wraps, and bubble bags. And they truly live up to their name. They offer free shipping, in 1-3 days to any state, and even buy back any unused boxes.

These boxes are quite strong and often come in a uniform size, complete with lids. Therefore, they are perfect for moving, especially since you can neatly stack them up at the back of a moving truck.


Have other ideas on where to get free boxes, let us know in the comments!

Bonus: Now that you’ve got your free boxes, find out how to ship them long distance on the cheap. We’ve put together a full guide with tips on cheap Amtrak shipping and 6 other cost-effective ways to ship boxes.

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