Finding moving boxes for free or at a lower price is one of the easiest ways to save on moving costs. Luckily, there are many places to get free moving boxes when planning a move. From local businesses to online platforms and community initiatives, check out our practical tips for sourcing free or cheap moving boxes.

Should You Buy or Get Free Moving Boxes?

Whether you’re looking to buy cheap moving boxes or source packing boxes for free, each option has advantages. Understanding these pros and cons can help you make an informed decision for a smoother and more organized move. Here are the advantages of buying cheap moving boxes versus getting free moving boxes.

Getting Free Moving Boxes Buying Moving Boxes
Save Money: Save money on packing and allocate more budget to other aspects of your move, such as hiring movers or purchasing new furniture. Quality Assurance: Purchasable moving boxes are often more durable and sturdy than free ones, ensuring your belongings are well-protected.
Eco-Friendly: Re-using moving boxes helps reduce waste and environmental impact. This option contributes to sustainability efforts by extending the lifecycle of cardboard boxes. Easier Moving: Moving boxes you can buy typically come in standardized sizes and construction for a more consistent moving experience.
Widely Available: Free boxes can be obtained through local businesses, online platforms, and community recycling programs. Specific Sizes: Choose specific sizes that suit your belongings, ensuring efficient packing and stacking.

Where to Get Free Moving Boxes

Buying new moving boxes can get expensive, so consider exploring other options first. With a little thought and planning, you can easily figure out where to get free moving boxes. Read on for the best places to find free or cheap cardboard boxes.

Retail Storefronts

Many businesses receive frequent shipments in sturdy boxes that they’re happy to give away for free. To secure free boxes from retailers, it’s best to call ahead and inquire about their box disposal process and store policies. Keep in mind big box retailers may not be able to give away boxes due to hygiene and liability concerns, so it’s best to stick to local businesses and chain stores. Some retailers may have a policy to hold boxes for customers upon request, which can help you save money while also reducing waste. Here are some retail options to explore for free moving boxes:

  • Supermarkets/grocery stores
  • Coffee shops
  • Gas stations
  • Liquor stores
  • Bookstores
  • Pharmacies
  • Arts & crafts stores
  • Restaurants
  • Bars

Online Exchanges

Local online groups and dedicated buy/sell/trade communities are some of the best places to get packing boxes for free. Search existing listings or make a new request in these groups specifying your general location, as well as the size and quantity of boxes you need. When you’re finished with your own move, give the leftover boxes to the next person in need! Here are some leads for obtaining free moving boxes online.

  • Local Facebook groups
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • U-Haul Box Exchange
  • Craigslist
  • Nextdoor
  • OfferUp

Community Establishments

Another option for getting empty boxes for moving is reaching out to nearby community fixtures. Places like community centers, churches, or even your own workplace may have surplus boxes they’d be willing to part with. Simply call or visit these places to inquire about their box disposal policies. Additionally, consider asking friends, family, and neighbors if they have any spare moving boxes they can give you.

Recycling Centers

Drop-off recycling centers in your area can be a good place to get recycled moving boxes. These facilities may even have a section where they keep boxes that are still in good condition. You can also keep an eye out for boxes left out for recycling pickup day in your own neighborhood. If you see boxes suitable for moving, ask the homeowner if you can take them.


To obtain free cardboard boxes from schools, start by contacting their administrative offices. These institutions often have surplus boxes from shipments of supplies, equipment, and other materials. Another option is to visit the recycling or sustainability offices of universities and colleges, which may have programs in place to encourage reuse and recycling.

Thrift Shops

Thrift stores often receive donations in sturdy boxes that they may be willing to give away for free. Visit local secondhand stores and inquire about their box disposal policies and availability. You can also keep an eye out for boxes left outside thrift shops for recycling or disposal. If you see boxes that are suitable for moving, ask the staff or manager if you can take them.

What to Look for In Used & Free Moving Boxes

Remember that not all used or free boxes are suitable for moving. Focus on the following key aspects for boxes when packing for your move to make sure your belongings reach their destination in one piece.


When obtaining free moving boxes or re-using moving boxes, prioritize those that are strong, dry, clean, and free from water damage. Ensure there are no signs of insects or evidence of mice, such as droppings or chew marks. Opt for boxes with intact flaps and sturdy construction to support your items safely. By selecting new moving boxes or those in excellent condition, you’ll minimize the risk of damage to your belongings during the move.


When looking for used or free moving boxes, consider a range of sizes that cater to different items. The best sizes for moving boxes are a variety of small (16″ x 12″ x 12″), medium (18″ x 18″ x 16″), and large (24″ x 18″ x 18″) boxes. These moving box sizes cater to various items, with small boxes ideal for heavy items like books, medium boxes for kitchenware and clothing, and large boxes for lightweight, bulky items. Additionally, prioritize standard sizes that stack well for efficient packing and transport.


Prioritizing box strength can help ensure the safety of your items during transit. Heavy-duty moving boxes are typically constructed with double-walled cardboard, providing added durability and protection superior strength compared to regular boxes. In contrast, regular boxes are single-walled and may not withstand heavy loads or rough handling as effectively. If you use regular boxes, consider reinforcing them with packing tape along the seams and edges to enhance their strength.


Preparing for a move? Visit a Life Storage facility to find durable and reliable moving boxes to help with your move. Find a storage facility near you today!

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