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Moving costs can add up quickly, but packing materials don’t need to blow your budget. With some creative hunting, you can find free moving boxes.
I’ve put together 31 tips to uncover free boxes from local businesses, online sources, and more. With a resourceful mindset, you can score all the packaging you need without payment.
Check With Local Retailers
Many stores receive frequent shipments and are glad to part with used boxes. Be sure to call ahead and ask when their next delivery is scheduled.
Walmart – Swing by after 10 pm when new inventory comes in. Early morning around 5-6 am is also a good time to grab empty produce and meat boxes.
Barnes & Noble – Book shipments mean sturdy boxes perfect for heavy items. Call to get the shipment schedule.
McDonald’s – Request unused fry boxes first thing in the morning before they get tossed in recycling.
Starbucks – Coffee deliveries come every other evening. Call the morning after to get the latest batch of boxes.
PetSmart – Visit on truck days (usually Tues/Thurs) and ask at customer service for any spare boxes. Arrive early, before 10 am.
Rite Aid – Fridays are ideal since new stock arrives on Thursdays. Ask right when they open.
Costco – Call ahead and ask nicely if they can set aside a selection of free box sizes for you.
Liquor Stores – Quality sturdy boxes are used for bottle shipments. Call in the morning to get first dibs.
Dollar Stores – Shipments arrive multiple days a week, so boxes are plentiful. Ask them to hold some for you.
Check Around Your Neighborhood
Your own neighborhood can provide a jackpot of boxes if you tap into hyperlocal sources:
Facebook & NextDoor – Post on local community pages or groups asking if anyone has spare boxes to get rid of.
Craigslist – Scan the free section for “moving boxes” listings being given away. Act fast before they’re claimed.
Reddit – Search your city’s subreddit page for users offering free boxes. Post an ask if results are outdated.
U-Haul – Use U-Haul’s “Customer Connect” online tool to find shared boxes others have dropped off.
Apartment Complexes – Check (tidily) through recycling dumpsters for usable boxes other residents have tossed.
Freecycle – Search community groups via Freecycle.org for people offering up boxes of all sizes.
Neighbor Garage Sales – Knock on doors of neighbors hosting sales to ask if they have leftover boxes.
Community Boards – Check local bulletin boards (libraries, rec centers, etc) for ads offering free boxes.
Repurpose Delivery Boxes
Be smart and reuse all the cardboard that comes your way:
Online Order Packaging – Break down Amazon, Walmart, and other ecommerce order boxes to store and reuse.
DIY Wardrobes – Make your own garment boxes by using appliance or bike store boxes. Add cut out holes and dowel rods.
Save Old Moving Boxes – Flatten and store your own used moving boxes to reuse again. Disassemble instead of tossing.
Ask Movers – See if the pro movers will leave behind any surplus boxes after unloading. Don’t be shy to ask.
To maximize box scores, call retailers/restaurants ahead and nicely ask staff to set aside boxes for you to pick up later. Being polite goes a long way.
- Bring packaging tape to reseal boxes picked up
- Produce and book boxes are the strongest
- Thank businesses for their box generosity
- Check recycling centers for “free box” areas
With insider tricks like these, you can move affordably and steer clear of moving box expenses. Get packing!
Michelle Harler is the founder of Guide2Free, a website dedicated to finding and sharing freebies, product testing opportunities, and other ways to save money. With over a decade of experience in the industry, her expertise in finding quality offers makes Guide2Free an invaluable resource for anyone looking to try new products and save money.