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Moving on a Dime: Part 1

photo by rick

As most of you know, we’re in the process of packing up and moving to another city–for the fourth time in less than six years. We always make it a goal to see how efficiently and inexpensively we can pull off a move so I thought I’d share a few tips we’ve found helpful for moving on a dime.

First off, we always move ourselves–with the help of kind friends and family. We prefer to do the work of packing up our stuff ourselves because it not only saves us money, but it also serves as a motivation to rid our home of unnecessary clutter. (You can read more on this here.)

Not paying for a moving service saves us quite a bit of money and since we try to keep our home pretty clutter-free in the first place and only have a small family, the job of packing things up is not too overwhelming. In fact, we’ve found we can usually do the whole thing from start to finish in less than four days.

However, doing the packing ourselves means that we have to find a source for good boxes. We’ve accomplished this in a variety of ways. The easiest way is to find a family who recently moved who has a bunch of boxes they’d love to have taken off their hands. Friends, acquaintances, FreeCycle, or CraigsList are good places to start with.

Another great option is to pick up extra produce boxes or paper ream boxes from grocery stores, Wal-Mart, or office supply stores. The only drawback to this is that you will likely need to hit these stores multiple times in order to procure enough boxes to pack up your home.

Last move, we were in a small town without a local CraigsList or FreeCycle, I was in the middle of morning sickness with baby #2, and we found out we were moving only a few weeks before we actually moved. So, after some simple research, I found 60 good-size boxes on eBay with free overnight shipping that I bought for $53. It wasn’t the best deal ever, but it was much better than the prices you’d find at moving stores and it was perfect for that current life situation.

This time around, I’m again in the middle of morning sickness with baby #3 and we don’t know of anyone who just moved with extra boxes to dispose of, so we began exploring other options. Ebay prices had dramatically increased, all the free boxes on CraigsList were snatched up within minutes of being posted, so we decided to try collecting boxes from local stores.

After two evenings spent making trips to three different stores and only 25 boxes to show for it, I landed upon someone who was selling their moving boxes on CraigsList for a good price. We were able to get over 100 boxes in many different sizes plus lots of packing materials for $35! It was just the deal we were looking for. I doubt we’ll end up using quite all of those boxes, but at least we’ll have plenty! And when we’re finished with them, I’m guessing we won’t have any trouble finding someone else on CraigsList to pass them onto. It works for me!

How have you scored moving boxes on the cheap? I’d love to hear.

Related: For those of you planning a move soon, I shared some tips for successfully moving here.

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  • susan says:

    You can get great moving boxing from shoe stores for free! My friend is a manager at a Famous Footwear, and they get shipments in each Tuesday. They throw away all the boxes that the shoe boxes came in on Wednesday. All you have to do is call them up and ask them to hold the boxes for you. They usually have around 40 big boxes a week!

  • Brittany says:

    I used to work at McDs and customers would always ask for the empty fry boxes. The fries are in bags so the boxes are never messy and they are the exact size and sturdiness of the ones you pay for from moving companies. You just have to call at the beginning of the day and ask for them to be saved instead of the recycle bin. You can also ask for them not to be “broken down” and the glue would save you some money on packing tape:)

  • Davonne says:

    There is no link on the last word of the second paragraph and I think there’s supposed to be.

    I’m not planning on moving anytime soon, but I will definitely keep this information filed into the back of my brain for future reference. Thanks for posting.

    And as always, thanks for posting all the freebies!

  • We lived in a big apartment complex prior to this house. It was easy to find boxes to use in the cardboard dumpster as people moved in – I just started a few months in advance.

    It was also a great way to find furniture and other household stuff. People would leave it neatly near, but not in, the dumpster, and others would take what they wanted. Many international students and families lived there, so often everything had to be left behind. It was a great opportunity.

    A moving option for if you have furniture (like a piano) that you just can’t move yourself – pay for movers just to do your big furniture and move the rest yourself. That’s what we did last time and it was just right for us and saved a lot of money.


  • Davonne says:

    Oh, you fixed the link. Great; I’ll go check it out!

  • Melissa says:

    Most of the time for boxes, we used the – “go check out stores & ask” option – TIP – don’t forget places like Pier One or other decorator stores, they get lots of products in boxes and get rid of them because everything gets unpacked for display. A couple of times, we lucked out and U-Haul was having a sale on moving boxes

    Currently, I’m fortunate, because I sell Avon, I get tons of new boxes in every couple of weeks, and they are great boxes, so I keep stacking them in my garage and use when needed, or can give away to a friend… which is a good tip… if you know someone who has a home based business, such as Avon, Home Interior, Pampered Chef, chances are… they have boxes and they might be able to pass them along to you!

  • After several moves, my mom stopped getting boxes at grocery stores because they were sometimes stained with leftover food. Instead, she went to the loading docks at hospitals. They’re boxes were always clean and sanitary, and they had lots of shapes and sizes. Then again, they also provided vocabulary and anatomy lessons for my sister who was just learning to read. I guess you can’t win ’em all. 🙂

  • Trixie says:


    The first few times I moved, I worked a grocery store. Finding boxes was never a problem! I used to take home several of the sturdiest boxes each night and then pack them up. I highly recommend the boxes eggs come in. They are sturdy, of perfect size and they come with handles.

    For anyone that’s moving, I would highly suggest you make friends with the Dairy Manager of a small local grocery store. (The larger stores stock off carts and do not use many boxes. Plus they tend to break them down immediately and then put them into a cardboard recycler)

    Take Care,


  • Andrea says:

    In the past 9 months I’ve made a huge cross country move, and then just recently, a 3 hour move. The cross country move was payed for completely through my husbands employer, which is a good thing because after four days and a few thousand dollars the last thing I needed on my mind was financial issues…

    Anyway, this most recent move was also payed for completely through my husband’s employer, but I drove around behind stores to look for boxes left out to be discarded. I came across a plethora of boxes sitting behind Anna’s Linens which is a home furnishings (towels, linens, the like…) store. I went inside and asked permission to take the boxes and they told me to go ahead and that the manager was actually taking more out as we spoke. The manager gave me all the boxes I could take as well as left more out for me to come back later to get. These were nice sturdy boxes in all different sizes. I got them all for free just by taking the time to drive around and look!!

  • Andrea says:

    In the past 9 months I’ve made a huge cross country move, and then just recently, a 3 hour move. The cross country move was payed for completely through my husbands employer, which is a good thing because after four days and a few thousand dollars the last thing I needed on my mind was financial issues…

    Anyway, this most recent move was also payed for completely through my husband’s employer, but I drove around behind stores to look for boxes left out to be discarded. I came across a plethora of boxes sitting behind Anna’s Linens which is a home furnishings (towels, linens, the like…) store. I went inside and asked permission to take the boxes and they told me to go ahead and that the manager was actually taking more out as we spoke. The manager gave me all the boxes I could take as well as left more out for me to come back later to get. These were nice sturdy boxes in all different sizes. I got them all for free just by taking the time to drive around and look!!

  • Debbie says:

    I have a great tip on where to find packing paper. I go to the local papers (Pennysaver) printing office and ask them for the ends of their rolls. One trip is all I need to get enough paper to move all of my things. The paper is not printed on and works great for wrapping fragile items. Also the paper rolls are great for craft projects for kids.

  • Erika says:

    if there’s a press or publishing house nearby, the boxes are usually very sturdy though on the smaller side–great for books, wooden puzzles, small dishes, glasses.

    for our summer move, my husband would swing by at 5 as often as he could and pick up the unpacked boxes from the day.

    another wonderful freebie from some such presses is the end of the white paper rolls. great for use as packing paper, wrapping paper, drawing paper–tape it to the floor, etc.!

  • Carrie says:

    You can actually ask moving companies for boxes too — the sell or give away used ones.

    Ah, I will never forget when we were getting ready to move across town while living in Beijing. the hubs thought it was a great idea to go to the Post Office and buy 10 mailing boxes — for about $6 each. I was not pleased!!

  • Mrs. Vinca says:

    I miss those days when it was possible to move without using a moving company. We have eight in our family and our last move was just too much for me, even with help from friends and family. It was so bad that I swore next time, no matter how much it hurt financially, we would hire movers.

    So, I always enjoy hearing stories from wives who can still do like my husband and I did in the early days of our marriage. The nostalgia is nice. 🙂

  • Gena says:

    I used to work at Payless Shoesource and they get shipments twice a week. Boxes everywhere! We used to save them for people moving sometimes.

  • Jaynee says:

    When we were preparing to list our NJ house we packed up a good portion of our belongings to put into storage. I would bring home boxes from my job – about 5-6 paper ream boxes a day for a couple months. These were the perfect size for packing up movies, books and CDs (of which we had a LOT). The key for us was starting the packing process VERY early on and getting as much done as we could before we even put the house on the market. When the time came to actually MOVE, we had already packed up half the house!

  • Courtney says:

    I get boxes through my work. I’ve always worked in the chemical industry, and we have fantastic boxes WITH HANDLES in the sides. They are super sturdy since they are used to ship glass bottles, and they are all non-contaminated (if they were contaminated they couldn’t be shipped per DOT regulations!). While you may not have a chemical plant nearby, chances are good you have a local college or community college. Call their chemistry department or storeroom and ask if you can get boxes from them. They are free and the best boxes you will ever find–even better is that they are all the same size!

  • Kelly Lute says:

    Ditto to those mentioning other types of stores besides grocery stores.
    Smaller stores, or restaurants will put their boxes in the back of their stores instead of those giant compactors like bigger chain stores or grocery stores. To get boxes from those bigger places, you pretty much have to know someone who will be diligent to set them aside for you.
    We recently got a good start to our packing from Cost Cutters salon. We got many boxes all the same size, which is very nice for packing up that moving van!

  • Michelle says:

    I have found excellent smaller boxes at the local liquor store. The boxes are great for packing fragile glassware and knick-knacks because most of them have inserts with compartmehts. Whenever we went they always had tons of boxes and loved to unload them on us!

  • Helen says:

    THe internet is the best for this! A girl I knew from online who had recently moved to my area knew of a friend also moving to the area (also from online) …she moved in, I took her boxes as she emptied them, used them to move, and then passed them on to a coworker moving! Funny how things work out like that…

  • Stephanie says:

    Due to my husbands schooling, we move once a year for four years. The first move we went to a recycling bin and found TONS of perfectly useable boxes in every shape and size. We have been lucky enough to save them from move to move!

  • Rebecca says:

    We had a friend who managed a large plant nursery locally. He gave us a stack of boxes that are used for shipping plants in. They were a great size, sturdy, with push-in handle notches on the sides to make them easy to carry. And because they were all the same size, they stacked easily. Best of all, they were free!
    We’ve only moved across town, so I had the benefit of being able to unpack boxes, then go back and repack them if needed. That made volume more manageable, but still, I think he gave us about 40 boxes that were about 16″ wide by 30″ long and 24″ deep.

  • Lea says:

    For books and other small but heavy items, liquor store boxes work great. Some places chage for them (10 cents per box or less) because they have to pay for their recycling anyway and want to get their money’s worth. We got about 75 (we’re academics and we have a TON of books!) for $1 a couple years ago. They were originally 10 cents each, but when the manager found out how many we wanted, he gave them to us for $1 total. They are sturdy, and have handles which helps!

    I also use all my extra kitchen linens (towels, dish clothes, table cloths, etc.), extra bedding, my fabric stash from my sewing, and all the throws from around the house to pack breakables. I place cloth napkins between plates (standing on end of course) and wrap the whole thing with a couple of table cloths. We save the styrofoam from our computers and TV (not the boxes) to pack them in. Yes, that does take up space, but when you move every few years, it saves headaches.

    Thanks for your website Crystal! We’ve found it very helpful!
    God bless you and your growing family!

  • hp says:

    I knew someone who worked at the local Health Department, so the last time I moved, I had a ton of boxes labeled “Health Specimen” and other wonderful phrases. If someone had seen me, they would have thought I was the a very unhealthy individual. But most companies have boxes they need to get rid of. I also am a teacher, so I got lots of paper boxes from the school.

  • CJ says:

    Liquor stores!

    They have small boxes, that can be packed with heavy items. They are very sturdy because liquor is heavy. They frequently come with cardboard separators on the inside so they are great for packing your own glasses, bottles, dishes, and other small things. Some even come with plastic on the outside which helps hold them together.

    I think liquor stores get delivered on Monday, and have boxes on Tuesday. Just call ahead, and stop on in.

    Disadvantage: Your new neighbors might think you are an alcoholic.

  • Mandy says:

    I have one more tip for free boxes. I used to manage a college bookstore and we always have tons of boxes – especially during the summer and in December. They are the perfect size to pack things in. And at least the store I worked at, was more than willing to give away boxes to those who wanted them.


  • Natalie says:

    I always hit up local liquor stores. A lot of the boxes have removable inserts that are perfect for packing your glasses and if you donot need them you can take them out and just use the main box.

  • I have moved alot in my lifetime and have never bought boxes!!!
    The ones I like the best are produce apple and orange boxes so last time for about a week, we hit the grocery stores produce department and we had so many boxes, more than we knew what to do with!

  • K. says:

    I recommend breaking down the boxes and saving them for a future more – that helped us out a lot! And if you absolutely have to use a moving service (and it’s long distance) DO NOT go with U-Haul. Everyone I’ve talked to, that’s used them, say that their trucks break down – not to mention the amount of gas you’ll be spending AFTER you’ve already paid their high priced fees for the truck. We just recently moved and I have to say that I HIGHLY recommend getting moving pods from ABF moving company. Their website is It’s the CHEAPEST option, trust me! They drop off the pods at your front door, you load ’em up and they pick them up and deliver them to your new residence – then you unpack yourself, of course. It was a great company and we were more than happy with their service. They were cheap(er), professional, on-time and our stuff arrived safe and sound. As far as unpacking – try calling up your local church in your area to see if any members would be willing to help unpack. That’s what we did and it was such a blessing! Good Luck!

  • We found tons of free boxes around the July 4 behind the fireworks stands! However, those big wardrobe boxes are very nice for hanging clothing and we needed about 6 of those. The local moving company wanted a fortune for them! However, if you call and ask if they have any used boxes, you can score great deals. We called every day and after about 4 days, they had some on hand. We paid $5 per wardrobe box (instead of $20+ for new ones!!!). We also got many other odd shaped and sized boxes we needed for $1 each!

  • We recently moved and found all of our boxes (used) on Craigs List for really cheap or free as well! GREAT deal!

  • Petra says:

    Being a Military-family, moving comes with the job (although the Army offer you movers, who tend to break everything you On our last move from on base housing to our first OWN home, i went to the recycling center on base and they gave me tons of boxes as well as paper to wrap everything. For free!! Plus i was able to bring the boxes back to them instead of paying for our local Trashcompany to come get them. That and a U Haul for a couple of hours and a bunch of friends did the job!

  • Amphritrite says:

    As someone who has moved so often, you might consider FINALLY purchasing a few plastic boxes – about four for each room. Then, make it a game to ONLY fill those four boxes. Only keep what you use and love. The rest can be put in someone else’s hands through donation or sale.

  • Classic Mama says:

    I knew what day stoers at the mall got their biggest shipments. Right before the stores closed, I went to them and asked if I coudl have their boxes before they shred them. They gladly gave them to me. 🙂

  • Kris says:

    I’m gonna go with the liquor store contingent here. As an added bonus, they don’t come with the stain/vermin risk that supermarket boxes often do.

  • Lora says:

    We, too, are in the midst of a move–our 4th in less than 5 years. I have found some of my best boxes at Taco Bell and Mc D’s. The *meat* boxes from TB are the best for books, since they’re smaller and don’t get too heavy. I’m also loving Mc D’s fry boxes for lots of stuff! I hate to pay for boxes and get nearly all free this way (and craigslist). The only ones I feel are worth the $ are the ones made especially for china and crystal. I pray your move goes well.

  • Allison says:

    Barnes & Noble!

    They get TONS of shipments of books in boxes every day…and some places just throw them away! All you have to do is ask…they are also very sturdy (especially for, well, BOOKS, of course! We have a lot.). We used about 50 B&N boxes this summer to move. Admittedly, we weren’t able to fit everything into the boxes, but when we needed a few larger ones, we used Freecycle/Craigslist. And then we gave them away to friends who are moving, and the rest we put back on Freecycle (no room to store them in our apt!)

  • Mrs. Pear says:

    Having moved back and forth each year before and after the university season I can say that in addition to grocery stores, check liquor stores – the boxes have to carry glass bottles, so they are really sturdy!

    As a married couple we have moved 3 times. Twice were paid for by companies moving us – hence professional movers, and once we were on our own. We both worked for a company that manufactured mainframes and servers, so we went out to the receiving dock and begged them to save boxes for us – we got some amazingly super sturdy boxes from power supplies! So if you know anyone who works for a manufacturing company ask them to help you – might cost you a meal and gas to pick up the boxes, but it will be worth it!

    Plus a friend of ours worked in the medical prescription industry and he gave us all his boxes from shipments which were big and a big flimsy, but excellent for clothing and linens!

    When a guy we worked with said that he still had is wardrobe boxes from when he moved and gave them to us, we were set!

    No money spent on boxes!

    Although each time we had the issue of dealing with clutter at the other end – your way seems much better!

  • Emily says:

    When we moved we found great sturdy boxes at a liquor store. They were perfect for packing glasses and small breakables because some of them had compartments.

  • Jessica says:

    I moved a lot while in college. I used produce boxes from grocery stores. They come in regularly and are of a uniform size for packing and stacking in the moving truck. Having a bunch of weird size boxes can make it difficult to stack and load/unload with the dolly. I do recommend using a dolly to avoid hurting yourself when loading and unloading to the truck.

  • tina says:

    Diaper boxes are also a good alternative to lightweight items. We used those when we moved…

  • AE says:

    I have found the best boxes for us are yearbook boxes. These extra-sturdy boxes broke down easily, re-made easily (without the need for tape) and most importantly, my husband loved them because they weren’t too big. (I have been known to over-pack large boxes, which makes them incredibly heavy! Medium sized boxes are more manageable.) Check your local middle or high school English department. Some schools distribute yearbooks in the spring, while others wait until the following fall.

  • Cathe says:

    We also used liquor store boxes. One advantage not mentioned yet is that the smaller size makes them manageable even for books. As a homeschooling family, we have a HUGE library, and the boxes couldn’t be too big or the children couldn’t lift and carry them. Now the guys are all over 6′ tall and I am the one who needs the lightweight boxes.

    I always wondered what our new neighbors thought when they saw piles of liquor boxes in our trash… LOL

  • Jeannie says:

    Don’t forget to hit your local Printing company. I own one, and we go through boxes like crazy. Also, you can ask to have the waste paper that is cut off the jobs to use for packing your breakables. Some of the paper we end up throwing away are full 23” X 25″ sheets, and there is also a lot of shreds (my daughter likes to make pom-poms out of) that you might like to use as filler. We welcome anyone who needs these items, because it keeps us from having to break down the boxes and reduces the amount of pick-ups we have to pay for to have our recycling bins emptied.

  • Shayleen says:

    Ahh…moving…not fun. Well, sort of. I’ve moved 8 times in the last seven years because of my husband’s job/schooling. (We are finally done.)
    We knew we would be moving a lot and so it paid for us just to buy the $4 (18 gallon) bins. I could sometimes find them for $3 back in the day. They have definitely paid for themselves. You can pack a TON of stuff in to them and not have to worry about the weight of it busting the bottom like it would a cardboard box. You can stack them nicely when you are done and we used them for all sorts of things! TV stand, toy boxes, coffee table and I still use one as my nightstand.

  • Ken says:

    Don’t have time to read through all the other comments but just in case no one else mentioned them, the two best resources I know of are:


    the U Haul box exchange at:

  • Dana says:

    Boxes to avoid: paper product boxes. We got some once for a move and they were terrible since paper products are so light, so the boxes don’t have to be sturdy.

    Great boxes we’ve gotten have been from liquor stores. The only negative is that it’s always an explanation since we don’t drink, at all. But these are excellent sturdy boxes, often with lids. They are also great for glassware, as some come with dividers, I guess for the liquor bottles.

  • Lori says:

    Getting boxes from a local Wines and Spirits or state store is a great way to be able to pack your glasses becauese there are individual slots for each glass. We did this when we moved and it made it so much easier than wrapping each glass individually.

  • NICOLE says:

    Check out local nursing homes. I’ve always been able to get clean boxes used to ship adult briefs and medical supplies for free, whereas most stores boxes are dirtier than I want to pack clean linens or dishes in.

  • Michelle Haviland says:

    Like many of the previous posters, I have to vote for the liquor boxes. Yes, they ARE the perfect size for books, since books tend to be heavy – a smaller box makes the weight more manageable. The cardboard dividers that originally separate the bottles makes great packaging for any glass bottles or jars in your grocery stockpile, cupboard or refrigerator – they won’t knock against each other and you don’t need to add extra packing unless you’re placing tiny glass jars against each other. I’ve also packed cans in the boxes with the dividers – again, cans are heavy, so the cardboard in between lightens the load a bit. Stemware, real glass glasses, small vases, decorative ceramic items that fit nicely in the compartments – you get the picture. Do add paper around items you aren’t sure of – if they get bumped on a delicate section (such as an arm of a figurine), it’s best to anticipate with some extra padding.

    I also save all padded envelopes that come in the mail – whether from samples, ebay wins or private mailings. They are perfect for packing photo frames for moving. Just slip the whole frame into the envelope and stack, on their bottoms or ends across the bottom of a box. After the box is full (across the bottom), fill in any dead space over the tops of the frames with packing material and seal the box. Still mark the box “FRAGILE” in case you get some thrill-seeking teenaged helpers who might want to toss a box or two. (smile)

    Don’t forget that you can post “wanted” ads on craigslist or freecycle. Sometimes reading a “wanted” ad is all that’s needed to jog the memory or motivation of somebody who has what you want taking up space and just hasn’t gotten around to getting rid of it. When we needed a microscope for homeschooling, I watched both of these forums for weeks. Finally, I posted a “wanted” on Freecycle. I immediately had two offers!

    Finally, for moving day, pack a box containing wet wipes, extra light bulbs, paper towels and toilet tissue, basic tools such as a screwdriver and hammer, a flashlight (check batteries!), extra drinking water, snacks for hungry kiddos, extra housekey and car keys (sometimes these get lost in the sea of boxes, especially if you have enthusiastic helpers who stack boxes on top of and around anything!), and anything you CAN’T risk temporarily losing such as your medications, phone and address book with emergency numbers clearly posted and cell phone chargers. Add anything you consider to be essential to this box. Keep this box IN your car, clearly marked to be left in the car, so that you know where it is. If heat will hurt anything in the box, then find a safe place in the house for those items – maybe a designated kitchen cupboard. Also keep a box or two with the bed and bath linens you will need to use the first night, separately from the other boxes so that you don’t need to hunt for it.

    Finally, don’t forget to bring paper towels, toilet tissue and liquid hand soap for the bathrooms – they’ll get quite a bit of use from your helpers and you don’t want to be searching for boxes of supplies.

    Blessings on your move and on your new home!


  • Diane says:

    We recently made a major move from a 6 bedroom home in Iowa to a 2 bedroom apt. in Tennessee. Finances were tight but we were able to secure all the boxes we needed for FREE from the local Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee grocery stores. We simply called the night before and asked them to save boxes for us and we went in early (5:30 AM) the next morning to pick them up. They were more than happy to give them to us…less boxes for them to to have to dispose of!

  • Jolie says:

    Starbucks boxes are small and tough, great for packing books, of which my husband has a ton! Ask when they receive shipments and when you can pick them up from the back of the store. Liquor store boxes are great for glasses as they have dividers. If you know anyone in an office, ask him or her to try to gather some of the paper boxes there. We also were able to get some wardrobe-type boxes from a friend who got them from her mom’s work, a men’s clothing store. It was nice to hang up clothes in them. My sister has moved multiple times and she has saved those type of boxes or other good ones she had to purchase. Also, contact a local paper or newspaper company for free or cheap rolls of plain newsprint for packing materials. I have also used our linens as padding for breakables.

  • Christen Manak says:

    We moved in May and were in the same situation needing to keep things to a minimum in way of expenses. I went to the back of our Target store and they had about 200 foldable, extremely sturdy cardboard boxes. I asked inside and the sales person told me to help myself! They were awesome because they folded so well, but didn’t have to be taped on the bottom as they folded open. We ended up keeping all these boxes in our new garage because they are so nice!

  • Betsy says:

    When I was a kid we moved a ton. Mom used to take us kids and hit the paint store and liquor stores in the area on delivery days. The boxes were free and sturdy, since they were made to accomodate paint cans and glass bottles.

  • Lisa says:

    I just moved and was able to get a bunch of sturdy boxes from my local liquor store. They are small but very sturdy and they have more than plenty to go around. They were the best boxes that i was able to get from local stores.

  • HM says:

    I wrote on this subject a few months ago as well.

    We got the suggestion from a friend who informed us Target, Linens N Things and places such as those give their boxes away. You have to call in advance and then go immediately to pick them up, but after a while they will know you are serious and save you more and more boxes. We moved from a 2400 square foot home and did not buy one box.

    We also recommend talking to any and everyone you know about packing peanuts, you never know who may have an extensive collection sitting in their warehouse at work. We have several fragile items that I would not just cram in a box. We ended up only buying one 5 foot bag of packing peanuts ($25.00) because we received 3 for free just because we asked around.

    • Wendy says:

      I work for the veterans administration and we have several shredders that shred paper to the size of confetti. I used that material to pack all of my fragile crystal, and salt and peppers shakers from California to Tennessee and nothing was broken. So that is another source of packing material. You can even use your own personal shredder to shred up paper and use that as a filler.

  • Jared says:

    We have been collecting paper boxes from work. Since I work for a large company there usually 3-5 per week. It has taken quite a while but I would estimate that we have scored about 50 boxes this way. Since we planned on moving for about 6-months, this really helped to save expense.

  • Renee says:

    I second the use of Mcdonalds Fry boxes- they make excellent sturdy cheap moving boxes, really alot of different boxes from there work well.

  • Megan says:

    My husband works for a large corporation and when we moved he went to the imaging department and got tons of computer paper boxes. These were very handy for the small stuff and breakables. They had handles and lids. My MIL moved one month before us and she went to the local moving company and bought their boxes. These were super nice. I passed them along to another family when we were done with them.

  • Megan says:

    My husband works for a large corporation and when we moved he went to the imaging department and got tons of computer paper boxes. These were very handy for the small stuff and breakables. They had handles and lids. My MIL moved one month before us and she went to the local moving company and bought their boxes. These were super nice. I passed them along to another family when we were done with them.

  • jen says:

    Liquor stores have great boxes for your glassware- they already have the dividers in them! Plus they are very thick and sturdy (drawback is they are harder to break down after the move). You can also remove the dividers for sturdy boxes for other breakables like dishes. They are perfect for books- not too heavy when fully packed.

  • Dena says:

    My husband works in the operating room at a local hospital and always is throwing away tons of boxes. Whenever we’ve moved he has been able to get various sized boxes- as many as we need. It took a couple of trips but as I pack in stages that works fine. If you have any friends who work at hospitals or drs offices they probably can get you boxes too.— Also- we’ve moved a few times in the past few years— before our last move I organized all my closets and several drawers very well using a lot of plastic containers to keep everything organized and separate. All I needed to do was stick a sticker on the ones with lids to tell where it went or to put all the non- lidded ones together in a box and then when unpacking time came everything was already organized and just ready to go on a shelf. My house came together so fast that way and I used far fewer cardboard boxes!

  • Andrea says:

    This last time moving for us, we scored a large amount from Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us. My husband called around and found out when they were going to be getting shipments in and then had them hold boxes aside for us.

  • Travis says:

    I work at a company that services business computer networks and telephone systems. The boxes that these devices come in are absolutely fantastic!

    Server boxes are perfect for linens and larger things.

    PC and monitor boxes can hold enough books that one person can move them without too much difficulty.

    Small pictures and the like can go in the telephone processor boxes.

    Hard drive or telephone boxes can hold little knick knacks. Pack them up, label them, and then put them in a PC or monitor box for great organization and protection for valuable little things!

    When I last moved, I found the boxes that came with Elo brand monitors to be the best overall. They are 1/2 inch of heavy duty cardboard and they come with handle holes.

    One very large project generated more than enough boxes for me to move (as a single person).

    Moral of the story, look for a busy computer shop for boxes. Telephone companies would be my second choice.

    Retail Computer stores typically sell the box with the computer, and are light on servers. Try to find a place that specializes in business computers, since they typically bring in the computer, install it, and take the boxes away to keep the office tidy.

    One online resource you can use is the Microsoft Solution Finder at If you have several choices in your area, look for the bigger companies – they are typically the Gold Certified Partners.

    Another resource is the Cisco Systems partner list. If you sell Cisco, you are involved in business computing. Try to go above “registered partner” if you can, since the extra investment in personnel training tends to indicate larger companies who sell more product (and have more boxes).

  • M. Flood says:

    If you go to local restaurants they often have a lot of boxes in their dumpsters that you can get for free. If you call ahead, they will tell you the day of their deliveries and sometimes they will even save them for you and not collapse them (less money spent on taping plus time saved too!). Another great moving tip is to have a moving party. Make several frozen pizzas and have some ice cream available. Invite all of your friends and have the moving truck ready. Feed them and then get to work! It is great! Girls help pack boxes and then clean the old place. Guys carry and load boxes and furniture. Then at the new place, do the same thing. Girls clean the new place and unpack and put things away. Guys unload the truck and arrange the furniture. I had a friend who did this from 7 pm to 11 pm. In that time she was moved out of the old place, the old place was cleaned, the new place was cleaned, and all of her stuff was unpacked and put away where she wanted it! She essentially was completely moved in, in 4 hours! With a lot of friends, it is fun and easy!

  • Pamela says:

    We recently moved from Oregon to Florida and we were blessed to be able to pick up many boxes, for free, from my husband’s former place of employment. They knew we were relocating for ministry purpose and bent over backwards to supply us with very nice boxes. He worked for a lumber yard so they were sturdy and came with lots of free paper!! We were so blessed. I only wish I had saved some to pass onto you!! But by the time we made the 3,500 mile journey and unpacked all of them…I didn’t want to see another box for a very long time. Blessings to you as you pack, rest, enjoy your children and look forward to the new things God is doing in your family.

  • Richelle F says:

    We got some great boxes for moving from Sam’s Club. They always have a bunch at the front of the store. They are not always nice full boxes, but you can usually find some good ones going there 2-3 times.

  • Jamie says:

    Another vote for the McD’s fry boxes! I loved them for moving and could usually score a ton pretty quickly

  • Danielle says:

    I just wanted to let you know I posted a link to this on my blog today. Here is the link for your reference:

  • Megan says:

    The BEST place for FREE boxes is the post office. Go to their website, they have boxes on there for free, big ones, & they are bundle packages, like 20-50 in a pack. I did this a few years back for christmas presents. You type in your info after you put them in your cart. Then they will deliver them to your door 🙂

    Hope that helps.

  • We’ve had fabulous success in getting boxes from Wal-Mart. Every time they restock, you can find boxes (broken down and folded but easy to tape back together) in the aisles. You just ask the stocking clerk if you can have them (I’ve never been turned down). The best boxes come from the meat department, and these are not boxes you will find in the aisles; you need to ask for them and then know where they are. During our most recent move, I called Wal-Mart and spoke with the head stocking clerk. He told me that meat shipments are always unloaded and shelved daily by 10am, leaving a huge pile of heavy-duty boxes (excellent for books and breakables) just behind the meat counter. Your local time for stocking meat may vary, so do call ahead. I was able to go to our Wal-Mart any time I needed more boxes and get anywhere from 15-20 nicely-sized boxes from this department. I usually went around 9:30, because the boxes are supposed to be cleared out and in the recycle pile by 10am. All you need to do is ask the clerk where the meat boxes are kept and ask if it’s okay to step behind the counter to get them (in our Wal-Mart, it’s right next to the door that goes into the back of the meat department). The guys here were only too happy to have me come and take the boxes, so this was a veritable treasure trove of packing supplies! We did our last move without paying a cent for a single box. Gotta love that!

  • Rebekah says:

    If you live near a military base, drive through one of the housing developments on trash pick-up day to look for boxes. Military families are constantly moving and generally happy to share their used boxes with other families on the move.

  • melissa says:

    We have moved 5 times in 5 years, and we always get our boxes from the Goodwill. YOu have to ask for them, as they are usually broken down and loaded on a cardboard ‘garbage’ cart in the back of the store. But they have always had more than enough boxes and are more than willing to give away. And they are free! You do have to tape them back together. Good luck moving!

  • Shay says:

    We had to move twice last year. We always go to the liquor stores for boxes. My step dad works at a school, so he gets me all kinds of boxes, too. We have never had to buy our boxes. We have moved short distances, so we have the ability to reuse some of our own boxes.

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