Top 20 Places to Find Free Moving Boxes
You’ve just paid for professional movers and bought the dining set for your new place. The last thing you want is to dole out cash for extra expenses, especially when everyone seems to be competing for your checkbook.
But, if you’re resourceful, you can slash a few unnecessary moving expenses easily. From the local grocery store to your own office, there are tons of places in your community you can reach out to and find free moving boxes. Check out a few of these tips, and you’ll secure a few moving boxes and a little extra cash on your move.
Reach Out to Your Social Circles
This should be one of the first stops on your journey to find free moving boxes. Send out a quick post on your social media pages to tap into anyone and everyone that needs to unload a few moving boxes -- your neighbor down the street who’s having a yard sale, your niece who just moved into her first place, the local grocer who has more delivery boxes than he knows what to do with.
When in Doubt, Check Craigslist
Scoping out Craigslist is a must. The first place to look is the “For Sale” section, where you may find a few listings for free moving boxes. You can also try posting under the “Wanted” section.
Your Own Office
Office buildings handle tons of deliveries every day, so checking around your own office should be one of the first places to look. Check in with your co-workers that handle supply orders, and see if they can reserve a box or two for you next time a shipment comes in.
Barter Your Way for Boxes
When money’s tight, bartering is always an option. Websites like NYC Stuff Exchange is a great platform for exchanging gently used items for free moving boxes. Post a quick message on their forum (think: “Offering up my unused plate set for free moving boxes!”). The message here: Don’t underestimate how people will be incentivized by free things.
Chances are, if your neighbors are having a yard sale, they just cleaned out the attic. Scour the newspaper for local yard sales, and see if you can take a few boxes off their hands.
Insiders tip: For best results, make sure to call in advance so you don’t catch them by surprise (or while they’re bartering with customers that are actually paying for their stuff).
Every semester, the savvy student opts to purchase textbooks online rather than get ripped off by the university bookstore. The result? University mailrooms get swamped with boxes. If you live near a university or college, make sure to stop by the mailroom to check out their inventory.
Better yet, if your move coincides with student move-in or move-out, you’ll definitely save big on boxes. Most universities have designated spaces to drop off unused boxes, so be sure to ask campus officials or even e-mail the university’s green team to inquire. Most campuses will oblige (they’ll be charged less in recycling pick-up fees!).
Boxes Inside Apartment Complexes
Apartment complexes see such high turnover that they’re a great place to start your search. When you arrive, ask to speak with the manager; they’ll be able to direct you to their package center or recycling room.
Your Local Orchard
You may be hard-pressed to find cardboard moving boxes here, but your local orchard is a great place to find wooden crates for moving items that need a bit more support. Crates are super durable, and you can even repurpose them as a rustic piece of furniture after the move!
Fast Food Restaurants
Stop by the local Burger King or KFC to pick up a few of their fry boxes. Fast food restaurants sell tons of fries every day, so it shouldn’t be difficult to score a few extra boxes. Best yet, most fries come frozen, so you don’t have to worry about your linens starting to smell like the local Burger King.
It’s All in the Timing - Ask Around the Holidays
The holidays bring cheer, but they also bring lots of delivery boxes. If your move coincides with the holidays, you can always send a quick note to friends and family before the holidays hit. Something like “I’m moving next month - any chance you could set aside a few delivery boxes for me? Would love to use them for my upcoming move!” works well.
The Grocery Store
Head straight to the fruits and vegetables department for this one. Apple and banana boxes are perfect for moving; they support a lot of weight, and your local grocery store will have a lot on hand since they receive shipments every day.
Join your community’s Freecycle group to see if anyone’s in the market to donate free moving boxes. It’s completely free to join the group, and it’s a great way to connect with other members of your community. Even if you don’t find moving boxes, Freecycle's a useful resource to know about as you begin to de-clutter your home before the move.
Auto Supply Stores
Now these guys are sure to have huge boxes on stock, such as oil and windshield washer boxes.
Head on over the local liquor store to score a few durable boxes. The best part? Liquor boxes typically come with a lid and handles, so they’ll protect your valuables from slipping out.
Reach out to someone who just moved
If one of your coworkers or neighbors just moved, they’re likely to have a backlog of moving boxes from their own move. Extra tip here? Make sure to offer to pick up the boxes yourself from their house.
Supply Chain Stores
At places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart, virtually everything comes in a box. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding moving boxes here.
The Local Elementary School
From craft suppliers to cafeteria deliveries, the local elementary school is a great source of free moving boxes. Try stopping by the cafeteria or administrative office to start your search.
Most recycling centers require that patrons break down their cardboard boxes. But, if you call in advance, you may be able to score a few free boxes. You may need to re-tape or re-fold the boxes back up, but it never hurts if it means saving a few pennies on your move here and there.
Other retailers like office supply stores, book stores, hardware stores, and restaurants are also great places to check out - they have a constant stream of cardboard boxes flowing in and out, and they’ll be durable enough to hold the contents of your kitchen cabinets.
Had luck with another retailer that's not on the list? Make sure to tweet us your suggestions @updater!