Where to Find Free Moving Boxes

Moving to a new home is expensive.

From the security deposit to hiring full-service movers or renting your own moving truck, moving costs can easily spiral out of control. And it’s especially annoying to spend money on boxes that you’ll only be recycling after you move.

Moving box costs add up

Cost Helper estimates that small boxes cost $1 to $1.70, medium boxes run from $2.35 to $2.79, large boxes cost about $3 and extra-large boxes are around $3.75. Moving kits providing a variety of sized boxes can range from $69 to $404.

Thankfully, there are ways to avoid spending your hard-earned money on moving boxes. With the exception of specialty boxes designed to fit certain odd-sized items, such as TVs and mirrors, you could potentially move your entire home in free boxes and save hundreds of dollars. Here are some of the best places to find free boxes.

1. Large retailers

Large retail stores get shipments every day and recycle their boxes. Timing is the key to getting free boxes. Call your local “big box stores” such as Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Office Depot, Target and others and ask what day and time they typically unload and ask them to save boxes for you. Liquor stores, bookstores and office supply stores are also good places to get free boxes.

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2. Grocery stores

Grocers receive shipments weekly and sometimes daily. Next time you’re grocery shopping, speak with a manager and let them know that you’re moving soon, and looking for boxes.

3. U-Haul box exchange

U-Haul’s box exchange allows people from all over the country to connect and sell or give away moving supplies. All you have to do is enter your location and “Free Boxes,” to find someone near you who is giving away moving boxes.

4. Online marketplaces and community groups

Today’s technology makes it easy to find free items that people are looking to discard. Look at the “free” section at the websites below. You can also post your own ad to let people know you’re in the market for free moving boxes and supplies.

  • Craigslist: The website has a local page to find just about anything
  • Facebook Marketplace: The social media network has a marketplace that you can join and found all sorts of household items. The marketplace filters items by your zip code, showing you only items that are within your local area.
  • Freecycle: This non-profit movement is a great way to find free stuff in your community. Sign up to join your local community group. Then, simply post in the network that you’re looking for free moving boxes.
  • Nextdoor: This community platform is a free and private social network for your neighborhood community — and the surrounding areas. The site includes a “Classifieds” section, which is often used to give away free stuff — including moving boxes.

5. Friends, family or neighbors

Call your friends, family and neighbors to see if anyone has extra boxes from deliveries or a recent move. Post a status on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to let all of your friends know that you’re looking for moving supplies.

Notice a neighbor just moving into your neighborhood? They’re a great source of free boxes as they will have a mountain of boxes to get rid of after unpacking themselves. If you live in an apartment building, contact the property manager and ask if anyone in the building is moving in. See if they can help you connect with the new tenant.

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6. Recycling center

Your local recycling center may be a good source of free boxes. Stop by or call to see whether you’re allowed to take boxes left for recycling. Boxes dropped off are usually already broken-down, so look for ones that are in good condition.

Happy box hunting!

The easiest way to find free boxes is by simply connecting with people who are moving just before you. Talk to people online and there’s a good chance that someone nearby will be happy to give you the boxes that you need to move into your new home. After you’re settled in, pay it forward and donate your boxes to someone nearby.

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Rachel CooperRachel Cooper is a freelance writer and author with more than a decade of online journalism and content creation experience. She has written for About.com, Washingtonian, Federal City Council, Montgomery Parks, Destination Maryland, Conde Nast Traveler, Payscale, Valpak, Grandparents.com, Washington Parent and more. Her books include Quiet Water: Mid-Atlantic, AMC’s Canoe and Kayak Guide to the Best Ponds, Lakes and Easy Rivers; 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C. and Images of Rail: Union Station in Washington, D.C.

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