8 Places To Get Moving Boxes Free of Charge

Moving is a lot of work. Well in advance, you create checklists and gather resources for the big day. At the top of most lists is collecting moving boxes. Cardboard boxes are one moving expense that can be had for free—our favorite spots to check out after the jump!

  1. Craigslist. Do a quick search in the free section (found underneath the “for sale” heading). On our quick check we found at least 20 sources for free boxes.
  2. Freecycle. Join your local group and put out the word or search to see if anyone is already offering them.
  3. Liquor stores. Try and ask for boxes with lids (otherwise, contents are bound to fall out in the moving truck). Boxes from a liquor store tend to be small and sturdy—great for books, CDs and DVD
  4. Bookstores. A perfect place to pick up boxes specifically for moving books.
  5. Grocery Stores. Ask them to save their apple boxes for you to pickup—these freebies are perfect for moving fragile items.
  6. McDonald’s fry boxes. We first spotted this solution from an Apartment Therapy reader. We were curious about this alternative and dug a little deeper. Apparently, these boxes are strong and also excellent for hauling heavy items that require a smaller sized box. Because the original contents of the box are frozen, you won’t have to worry about the boxes being smelly (or greasy). McDonald’s fry boxes also have a Facebook page, pointing out alternative uses.
  7. Starbucks. Having worked at Starbucks a long, long time ago, I know from experience that a store will receive anywhere from 1-2 shipments per week (so it’s a good chance that they’ll have boxes on a weekly basis). Because Starbucks boxes range in size, we like to ask them to hold their larger sized containers for storing our lighter, bulkier items.
  8. U-haul Box Exchange. U-haul has created a message board allowing you to search by location for free boxes in your area.
  9. Schools. Schools get a ton of deliveries — try connecting with the janitorial staff and offer to take boxes off their hands and save them the time of breaking them down for recycling.
  10. Your workplace. If you take public transportation to work, it’s likely not worth it but if you drive, ask your office manager or the folks at the loading dock if they have any clean boxes you can have. If they don’t, tell them your move date and ask them to set some aside for you to pick up another day.

Moving? You’ll probably also need a few things other than boxes—like packing tape (check out the brands professional movers recommend) and other clever packing helpers with a certain je ne sais quoi. And if your problem isn’t really the boxes as so much as it’s the overwhelming amount of stuff, here’s a bibliophile-approved method for purging books and some generally amazing decluttering tips. Good luck!

Apartment Therapy readers, what additional spots do you go to for moving boxes free-of-charge?

-Re-edited from a post originally published December 7, 2009 – LS

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