We may be compensated if you purchase through links on our website. Our Reviews Team is committed to delivering honest, objective, and independent reviews on home products and services.More

Where To Get Moving Boxes for Your Next Move (2024 Guide)

Advertiser Disclosure

By using, you are leaving This Old House and will be connected with partners of Home Service Quotes. Who, by submitting your information, may contact you with information related to your inquiry. The listings that appear are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

Compare quotes from local moving experts.

packing up an apartment into cardboard boxes

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Kent Sisneros Updated 03/27/2024

Moving boxes are easy to carry, built to withstand shifting during transport, and keep your items secure. Using moving boxes will streamline your move, helping you stay organized and protecting your belongings. In this guide, we’ll cover where to get moving boxes, what types of packing supplies you may find useful, and tips to find the right boxes for your budget and moving needs.

Where Can I Find Moving Boxes and Packing Supplies?

There are many places to find moving boxes, whether you purchase them at full price, find discounted boxes, or score some free ones. Although free boxes cost nothing, they require more time and effort to obtain and may not be appropriate for moving. Buying boxes increases your moving cost but ensures their suitability for the task and saves effort compared to searching for free boxes. We’ll cover all the places where you can find moving boxes—free or available for purchase.

Big-Box Stores

Big-box stores, such as Target and Walmart, carry standard moving boxes and packing supplies. Many people live near a big-box store, and prices are generally lower than at more specialized retailers. However, the availability of specialized box types and sizes is usually limited.

Home improvement stores, such as The Home Depot and Lowes, carry a wider selection of packing boxes, including heavy-duty and specialized boxes. These boxes usually cost more but are higher quality.

Moving and Packing Stores

Stores that specialize in packing or moving supplies, such as U-Haul and The UPS Store, offer the largest selection and highest quality boxes and supplies. Prices are usually higher, but the ability to get everything in one place saves time and effort. 

Online Retailers

Most brick-and-mortar retailers also sell supplies online. Additionally, there are online-only options, such as Amazon and Uboxes. Online retailers offer discounted prices and greater selections than brick-and-mortar stores. However, shipping times may delay your packing project, and there is no opportunity to physically inspect the products before buying them.

Community Marketplaces

You can often get cheap moving boxes from community marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, U-Haul Box Exchange, and your local classified ads. However, the quality and selection vary widely.

When shopping for secondhand boxes, look for clear photos and details about the size and type of boxes available. Pay particular attention to signs of excessive wear, such as creases or tears. Worn-out boxes are more likely to break open or collapse after packing.

Sources of Free Boxes

There are several ways to find free boxes, some of which include:

Businesses: Ask managers at retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses if they’ll give you the shipping boxes they plan on otherwise discarding. You can find good-quality boxes this way, but some may have stains, gaps, smells, or damage, so inspect any before using them.
Deliveries: You can save the boxes you receive from shipments delivered to your home. Saving these boxes is an easy and free way to accumulate moving boxes.
Friends and family: People you know who have recently moved may have moving boxes they want to get rid of. Ask friends and family if they have any boxes you can use or if they’d be willing to hang onto the boxes they receive from deliveries.
Online marketplaces: Online communities don’t just sell discounted boxes. Sometimes you can find free boxes from local online groups, such as U-Haul Exchange and Facebook.

Tips for Choosing the Right Retailer and Supplies

Consider the types of boxes you need, your budget, and how much time you have. For small moves, you can usually meet your needs by purchasing supplies from a big-box store or reputable online retailer. For larger moves or moves that include numerous fragile or specialty items, a retailer that specializes in packing and moving supplies may be a better choice.

Discount stores offer lower prices. Moving and packing stores offer a bigger selection of specialty and heavy-duty boxes. If you are moving soon, you may prefer a local store to an online store due to the shipping time. 

Read customer reviews and consider policies such as whether the store accepts returns of unused supplies or helps you get rid of your boxes after you finish moving. Purchasing moving bundles can save you the time and effort of selecting individual boxes and supplies and may cost less money.

Moving boxes come in several shapes and sizes, depending on the intended use. Many are built for specific purposes to help you move things, such as clothes on hangers and couch cushions. You can use certain supplies, such packing tape and cushion materials, with your moving boxes. Below are descriptions of the different types of moving boxes and supplies you may find useful for your move.

Corrugated Cardboard

Corrugated cardboard is the industry standard for moving boxes due to its durability and light weight. Corrugated cardboard consists of three layers, including an interior liner, an outer liner, and a fluted material between the liners. The layers of material make corrugated cardboard less prone to breakage.

Corrugated cardboard boxes are affordable and come in several sizes.

  • Small moving boxes: These are best for small but heavier household items, such as books, canned foods, and small appliances. 
  • Medium moving boxes: These work well for lampshades, toys, craft supplies, medium kitchen appliances, and small bedroom and bathroom items.
  • Large moving boxes: Use this size for lightweight bulky items, such as folded clothing, stereo speakers, and stuffed animals.
  • Extra-large moving boxes: Use these for even larger lightweight items, such as blankets, comforters, pillows, folded towels, and couch cushions.

Heavy-Duty Boxes

Heavy-duty boxes have two corrugated cardboard layers. They’re more durable than standard boxes and provide more protection from dust and dirt that could damage your possessions. Use heavy-duty boxes when you store items in dusty, dirty, or moist locations, such as a garage or shed.

Wardrobe Boxes

Wardrobe boxes come with a metal bar for hanging clothes. Use wardrobe boxes to move clothing that you can’t or don’t want to fold. You can also use wardrobe boxes to move tall items, such as chairs and artificial Christmas trees.

TV Moving Boxes and Electronics Boxes

You can easily damage TVs and electronics during a move. Specialty moving boxes protect TVs and electronics from accidental damage. Retailers sell packing kits, including covers, packing tape, plastic wrap, and furniture pads, to protect your TV and other electronics during your move.

Picture and Mirror Boxes

Pictures and mirrors are large and fragile. Picture and mirror boxes come in sizes that fit these items better than standard moving boxes and provide additional protection.

Dishes and Glassware Moving Boxes

You need to individually wrap dishes and glassware to avoid breakage. Retailers sell kits that make this process easier and provide individual storage spaces and added protection for fragile items.

Cushioning Materials

In addition to boxes, cushion materials will help protect your belongings. You can wrap your fragile items in bubble wrap and packing paper. They’re also good fillers to stuff into the empty spaces in your boxes so that your items don’t shift during transport.

Packing Tape Options

The right packing tape will ensure your moving boxes stay closed during moving and storage. Consider the width, longevity, temperature tolerance, adhesiveness, and ease of use of the packing tape you use. Remember the following tips when choosing your packing tape:

  • Avoid using masking, electrical, or duct tape on moving boxes. Masking tape is not strong enough and can’t withstand high temperatures. Electrical tape has weak adhesive and will leave residue on your boxes. Duct tape does not hold up in high temperatures and is not durable enough for moving.
  • Extreme heat can cause the tape to break down. If you are moving in the summer, use tape with a high heat tolerance. 
  • Moving boxes need strong tape at least 2 inches wide with powerful adhesive to prevent boxes from falling apart during transport.
  • Use a tape dispenser to easily cut the tape and prevent the end of the roll from becoming lost.

Average Cost of Moving Boxes

Moving boxes come in several price ranges:

  • Small boxes: $1–$2.50 standard, $2–$2.50 heavy duty
  • Medium boxes: $1.60–$3.50 standard, $2–$3.50 heavy duty
  • Large boxes: $2–$2.50 standard, $5–$6 heavy duty
  • Extra-large boxes: $3–$3.50 standard, $7–$8 heavy duty

Specialty boxes, such as wardrobe, dish, and TV boxes, cost more than regular boxes. The exact cost will depend on the size and type of box.

Protecting Fragile Items During a Move

Fragile items, such as glasses, dishes, and electronics, are easy to damage during a move without proper protection. Minimize damage by using specialty boxes, such as dish packs and TV boxes, to protect your most fragile possessions. Follow the tips below for packing delicate belongings:

Pack heavy, fragile items in sturdy boxes to avoid breakage due to boxes collapsing or bursting open.
Label boxes containing fragile items so you know to handle them with care.
Wrap delicate items in bubble wrap or paper and pad the bottom of boxes with paper or bubble wrap and fill empty spaces to reduce movement and cushion items against impacts.
Pack particularly fragile items, such as lampshades, individually to avoid damage from contact with other items.
Seal liquid items, such as cleaning supplies, to prevent spills.
Pack the heaviest items in the bottom of boxes to prevent them from falling over due to being top-heavy or collapsing in the middle. Place lighter items on the top to avoid crush damage.
Use extra heavy-duty packing tape on the bottom of the boxes to ensure they stay closed.
Consider using a professional moving company that can provide custom crating for bulky and valuable items instead of packing and moving them yourself.

How To Determine How Many Moving Boxes You Need

The easiest way to estimate how many boxes you need is to use one of the online calculators offered by various retailers and moving experts. Input information such as the number of bedrooms and people in your household and specify your packing style to get an estimate. The larger your home and household is, the more boxes you will need.

Our Conclusion

Using free moving boxes can save you money but also increases the risk of damage to your possessions or injuries to movers due to box breakage.

We recommend purchasing new or discounted boxes from a reputable retailer. You can get everything you need in one place, and you will have the peace of mind that you are using high-quality boxes and supplies to avoid accidents. Online marketplaces offering lightly used moving supplies are also a good option.

Consider purchasing a moving bundle that includes all the basic supplies you need and supplementing it with individual boxes. Using the right supplies will give you the best chance of a frustration-free move.

FAQ About Moving Boxes

How long before a move should I start packing?

Start preparing to move—including sorting through your items, donating and selling unwanted belongings, and organizing each room in your home—at least six to eight weeks before your move date. Begin packing at least three weeks before your move date, starting with your least-used items.

Do movers provide boxes?

Movers provide boxes for an additional cost. Professional movers may also sell other packing supplies and some offer to pack your belongings for you.

What are the advantages of using moving boxes?

There are a few advantages of using moving boxes over other cardboard boxes. Moving boxes are designed to protect your items and simplify the moving process. They’re also clean, sanitary, and uniform in size and construction, which prevents damage to items and makes stacking them on a truck easier.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.