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Where to Get Cheap Moving Boxes: A Complete Guide

Where to Get Cheap Moving Boxes: A Complete Guide

If you have a move coming up, you may be wondering where to get cheap moving boxes.

Luckily for you, we’ve made a complete guide to help you find boxes on the cheap. Read on to learn more.

Looking for Cheap Moving Boxes?

A man sitting in front of a pile of junk because he doesn't know where to get cheap moving boxes

When you’re ready to pack up and move, moving boxes are a necessity. You’ll need lots of them in various shapes and sizes to transport your belongings to your new place.

Finding cheap moving boxes in bulk proves to be a challenge when you’re under a time crunch. But you might be missing out on the best places to find cheap moving boxes if you’re only checking Walmart and Lowes.

You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars just to pack and transport your stuff one time. If you’re resourceful, you can find free or cheap moving boxes in the most unexpected places.

Don’t Stress Out Just Yet

And if you don’t have time to search out moving boxes around town, there are a few reliable places to buy affordable moving boxes.

We’ve checked the current prices on moving boxes in person and online to create this guide. And we’ve moved enough times to discover the best lesser-known spots where moving boxes are always plentiful (if you know who to ask).

Keep reading to find out what kind of moving boxes to look for, the best places to get cheap moving boxes, and where you can find moving boxes in good condition for free. You’ll be packing up in no time!

What Kind of Moving Boxes are Best?

Vector image of a number of features that good moving boxes include

Is there a specific type of moving box you should look for? As it turns out, not all boxes are created equally. The best moving boxes are strong and sturdy.

Use them to ship and transport specific items, like books and bottles of wine. Packing some of your more fragile items, like televisions, glassware, and framed pictures, requires more than the average flimsy cardboard box.

Like books and clothing, even heavy items need special consideration as you’re rounding up moving boxes. Put into too-large boxes, these items can quickly become too heavy to carry. There’s a lot to think about!

Consider Your Needs

The best moving boxes are:

  • Only as large as you need. Wasted space inside the moving box adds up to wasted space in your moving truck. To fit all your items inside, use moving boxes that are only as large as you need. If there’s open space left inside after you’ve packed in a few heavy items, fill the space with lightweight items like towels, tablecloths, or pillows.
  • Made of sturdy corrugated cardboard. Whether they’re rigid boxes (like the boxes computer paper comes in) that don’t fold down or folding boxes that are most commonly used for moving, you need sturdy cardboard boxes at minimum to transport your stuff safely.
  • Reusable. Once you’re all moved in, you’ll suddenly have the opposite problem: too many boxes! You may think about using Rubbermaid totes and containers for some of your items to double as storage containers once you’re moved in. And don’t forget about using containers already in your house, like suitcases, duffle bags, and large baskets, to transport some of your stuff!
  • Able to securely close up. Produce boxes aren’t a good choice for moving boxes because they have holes for venting on the top and bottom. This means the box won’t completely close at the top and will need some type of insert to prevent items from falling through the bottom. 

Don’t make the mistake of using every moving box you’re able to get for free. Only use boxes that are sturdy and in good condition.

You risk damaging the items inside if you rely on older boxes that have been broken down more than once.

Where to Get Cheap Moving Boxes

With the above criteria in mind, there are plenty of places where you can find moving boxes that fit the bill. But knowing where to get cheap moving boxes requires a little bit of creativity.

Fortunately for you, we’ve put together a list of places where you can find affordable moving boxes to transport your belongings securely. 

  • Cheapest small moving boxes overall: U-Haul ($0.88/ea)
  • Cheapest medium moving boxes overall: U-Haul ($1.37/ea)
  • Cheapest large moving boxes overall: U-Haul ($1.65/ea)
  • Cheapest extra-large moving boxes overall: U-Haul ($2.37/ea)
  • Cheapest wardrobe moving boxes overall: Amazon ($10.07/ea)

Walmart Moving Boxes

  • 25 Small moving boxes: $25.00 ($1.00/ea)
  • 25 Medium moving boxes: $35.00 ($1.40/ea)
  • 25 Large moving boxes: $49.50 ($1.98/ea)
  • 3 Wardrobe moving boxes: $31.50 ($10.50/ea)

U-Haul Moving Boxes

  • 25 Small moving boxes: $21.75 ($0.87/ea)
  • 25 Medium moving boxes: $34.25 ($1.37/ea)
  • 25 Large moving boxes: $41.75 ($1.65/ea)
  • 25 Extra Large moving boxes: $59.25 ($2.37/ea)
  • 3 Wardrobe moving boxes: $41.85 ($13.95/ea)

Amazon Moving Boxes

  • 25 Small moving boxes: $36.99 ($1.47/ea)
  • 20 medium-moving boxes: $44.99 ($2.25/ea)
  • 12 Large moving boxes: $41.00 ($3.41/ea)
  • 3 Wardrobe moving boxes: $30.22 ($10.07/ea)

Lowes Moving Boxes

  • 25 Small moving boxes: $22.00 ($0.88/ea)
  • 25 medium-moving boxes: $36.00 ($1.44/ea)
  • 25 Large moving boxes: $44.50 ($1.78/ea)
  • 25 Extra Large moving boxes: $62.00 ($2.48/ea)

Home Depot Moving Boxes

  • 25 Small moving boxes: $22.00 ($0.88/ea)
  • 25 medium-moving boxes: $37.00 ($1.48/ea)
  • 25 Large moving boxes: $66.98 ($2.67/ea)
  • 25 Extra Large moving boxes: $61.50 ($2.46/ea) 
  • 3 Wardrobe moving boxes: $39.60 ($13.20/ea)

Overall, if you choose to purchase moving boxes instead of searching for free boxes, U-Haul has the best prices for moving boxes.

They offer discounts when you buy more moving boxes, whereas retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Lowes charge a fixed price per box, no matter the quantity.

If you are using a U-Haul truck to move, you can pick up the boxes in person. You can also choose to have the boxes shipped to your home.

In addition, U-Haul has a buy-back program. They will buy back any boxes you purchase, but don’t use them as long as you keep the receipt.

10 Places to Find Free Moving Boxes Last Minute

Infographic showing where to get cheap moving boxes

If you have a little more time or want to find free moving boxes instead of buying them, you have plenty of options.

Below, we’ve listed the best places to find free moving boxes in your neighborhood. Some of the best options are unexpected!

1. Grocery Stores

Grocery stores receive their products in shipments, so they’re sure to have plenty of boxes you can use. Ask a clerk or manager if you can pick up moving boxes over the next few days.

Depending on the size of the store and the shipments they receive, you may be able to get all the boxes you need in one day.

The stores either break the boxes down and place them around the back or break them down to put into a compactor. If the store uses a compactor, you’ll have to arrange to pick up the boxes before they’re compacted.

Be sure that the boxes you take are clean and in good condition. If the boxes held produce, you’d need to place an insert inside to cover the opening at the bottom.

2. Liquor Stores

Liquor stores are an old standby for moving boxes. Liquor stores receive shipments of fragile goods—liquors, wines, and beers—often in glass bottles, so the boxes they have are especially useful.

Most liquor stores won’t mind saving boxes for you to use and allowing you to take whatever boxes are available. They’re stronger than other boxes and perfect for holding heavier, smaller items like books.

While small, these boxes are often rigid and difficult to break down, so make sure you’ll have enough room to transport them when you pick them up. 

3. Facebook Marketplace and Groups

Check Facebook to find moving boxes. Many people will post their moving boxes once they’re settled in.

You can look in local buy-and-sell groups, Facebook Marketplace, and freebie groups like Freecycle or Buy Nothing Project. See who might be giving boxes away by typing “moving boxes” or “cardboard boxes” into the search bar.

If you don’t see any listings, try posting in a local Facebook group to ask for boxes or posting on your own timeline.

4. Friends and Family

Friends and family can be an excellent source for cardboard moving boxes! Whether they recently moved, work somewhere with access to lots of cardboard boxes, or have boxes leftover from their last move, you can often find plenty of moving boxes when you ask family and friends.

Don’t forget to check with your own workplace. If your office receives any kind of shipment, you may be able to collect the boxes as you get closer to your upcoming move.

5. Bookstores

Bookstores are a notoriously great source for moving boxes. This is because the product they receive most often—books—is heavy and requires strong, sturdy shipping boxes.

Bookstores are often happy to provide you with boxes. All you have to do is ask. Most boxes are periodically broken down throughout the day, so be sure to let an employee or manager know how many boxes you need.

They’ll likely be willing to set them aside for you. They may even have enough boxes for you already in back.

6. Craigslist/LSN

Local sale sites like Craigslist and LSN can be a treasure trove of moving boxes. Check out the free section for moving boxes or cardboard boxes.

Once someone finishes moving, they’re often looking to get rid of the boxes quickly and list them in these sections.

Most people leave the boxes in an easily accessible place, so you can do a quick porch pickup. All you have to do is drive to the location to pick up the boxes.

7. Restaurants and Coffee Shops

Restaurants and coffee shops are great places to find free moving boxes. The items are shipped in sturdy boxes to ensure they arrive undamaged and fresh. This also makes them perfect for packing and moving your stuff.

Stop by a McDonald’s (their fry boxes are well-known for being excellent moving boxes), Starbucks (which has a range of box sizes available), and dine-in restaurants all receive at least one weekly shipment.

If you can find out when that is by asking an employee, you can really rack up with boxes.

8. U-Haul Box Exchange

U-Haul knows that their customers end up with a mountain of cardboard boxes they no longer need after moving. So they created the U-Haul Box Exchange, a forum where you can look for available moving boxes near you.

The bonus to using this route is that you’ll likely be able to get all the moving boxes you need (or more) in just one trip. Search U-Haul Box Exchange to find the forum for your area.

9. Retail Stores

Every retail store receives shipments of goods in sturdy boxes. The key is getting to the boxes before they’ve been put in the compactor!

It’s a good idea to check with management to see when you can come pick up boxes. They may set aside plenty of boxes for you to collect. 

If the store doesn’t use a compactor, you might be able to find them stacked outside the store’s back door or by the dumpster. 

10. Schools

Schools are an often-overlooked place to get moving boxes. All schools receive shipments throughout the year. They will receive more at certain times of the year.

You might luck out and get sturdy boxes that new textbooks were shipped in. Try connecting with the office, cafeteria, or janitorial staff to determine if they can set aside boxes for you to pick up.

Final Tips for Getting Free or Cheap Moving Boxes

Graphic of a man giving a thumbs up in front of a pile of cheap moving boxes

Now that you have a good idea of where you can go to find free or cheap moving boxes, check out the following tips to make sure you get the best boxes:

  • Ask if there are any boxes with lids 
  • Strike up a friendly conversation with an employee or manager to get first access to new boxes
  • Know the days and times stores and businesses receive shipments so you can get to the boxes quickly
  • Start looking for moving boxes as soon as you know you’re moving and build your supply over time
  • Avoid dirty, wet, or boxes with traces of food
  • Always ask before taking boxes to avoid problems with store management
  • Invest in high-quality packing tape to securely put used boxes back together 
  • Use plenty of packing material to ensure your items won’t move around during the move

Moving is stressful and involves a lot of planning to go smoothly. The last hang-up you want is being unable to find enough moving boxes! Use these tips to find free or cheap moving boxes, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

When all is said and done, make someone else’s day by passing your moving boxes on to the next person using U-Haul Box Exchange, Craigslist, or Facebook.