21 Places to Get Free Moving Boxes to Slash Moving Costs

Do you have a move coming up and are wondering how to pack without emptying your pockets? 

I’ve moved across the country three different times, so I know how stressful it can be. 

I spent so much time finding a new apartment and getting the moving van that I usually forgot to get enough moving boxes until it was too late. 

In this guide, we’ll look at some of my favorite ways to get free moving boxes, but you can also use these tips to help clean out your garage.

So, grab a coffee, settle in, and let me share what I’ve learned about moving on the cheap. Your wallet (and your back) will thank you. 

How to Find Free Moving Boxes Online

So, why look for moving boxes online? 

It’s not just about pinching pennies. 

Reusing boxes means fewer trees get chopped down, and fewer boxes end up in landfills. Even if you’re not focused on saving the planet, many people want to declutter and pass on boxes they no longer need.

Let’s check out where you might score those freebies:

  1. Craigslist: Yep, it’s still around and kicking! Especially the “free stuff” section. You’d be surprised how many boxes get listed there.
  2. Freecycle: It’s a community of good folks aiming to reduce waste by sharing what they no longer need. Worth a peek!
  3. Facebook Marketplace: Sure, it’s mostly for buying and selling, but there are some gems listed for free, including moving boxes. Keep your eyes peeled!
  4. Nextdoor: Think of it as a friendly neighborhood digital bulletin board. Why not ask if anyone nearby has some boxes to give away?
  5. Letgo & OfferUp: Both are marketplaces, but with some luck and persistence, you can find people generously giving away their old moving boxes.

A Few Tips for Online Box Hunting

As with searching for anything online, the right search terms will be your best friend. 

Instead of getting lost browsing through a sea of listings, use specific terms like “free moving boxes near me,” “free boxes near me,” or even “moving supplies.” You’ll be amazed at how this narrows things down.

Given the high demand for these boxes, making regular pit stops on your favorite platforms’ “free stuff” or “for sale” sections is worth it. 

If you find something promising, quickly. You’re probably not the only person looking for free moving boxes in your area.

Don’t forget to be nice to the people you talk to. There are real people on the other side of that screen. 

How to Get Free Moving Boxes from Local Businesses

If your usual online haunts don’t pan out, the next option is to check out some popular spots in town. Local businesses are typically the best place to get free moving boxes. 

Why local businesses?

For starters, this helps support your local economy. When you snag boxes from local shops, the business reduces its waste, and you get free boxes. 

Local businesses often receive goods in high-quality boxes to prevent damage. This means you can get free boxes perfect for safely moving your belongings.

Businesses get shipments in different box sizes and shapes, depending on what’s shipped in them. So, whether you’re packing your grandmother’s porcelain or your collection of action figures, there’s likely a box that’s just the right fit.

I worked several retail and grocery store jobs in my teens and early 20s. Every week, we’d get a call from someone asking if we’d save them some moving boxes. 

I’ll be honest. Some customers were better to deal with than others, and I made sure that they got the best moving boxes. 

Here are a couple of tips to make sure the store hooks you up:

  • Call First: Before you go to your store, give them a quick phone call. Most businesses won’t have extra boxes lying around. They’re typically compacted and shipped out quickly. Always ask first. 
  • Timing is Key: Don’t waste the store’s time during busy times. That’ll only distract the employees and make a bad first impression. Find out when the store’s slow times are and drop by then. While you’re there, ask when they get their shipments so you can arrange to pick up your free moving boxes that day. The store will appreciate it!
  • Be Kind & Appreciative: You know how we always appreciate a smile from Joe at the corner store? Be that person. Be friendly and polite to staff and fellow customers. 
  • Quality Over Quantity: I know it’s tempting to grab all the boxes you can find but ensure you’re taking only those in good shape. Leave behind torn, wet, or damaged boxes. 

Local businesses are your best place to get free moving boxes, and they’re right there in your neighborhood. 

Check out this list of places to get free moving boxes

21 Best Places to Get Free Moving Boxes

In this section, I’ll list 21 of my favorite places to find free moving boxes in a little more detail:

  1. Liquor Stores: These stores regularly receive shipments of bottles in heavy-duty boxes. These boxes are designed to protect their fragile contents, making them perfect for moving glassware or heavier items. A trip to your local liquor store might surprise you with a good stash of these handy boxes.
  2. Grocery Stores: These stores get daily or weekly shipments of fresh produce. Boxes with fruits and vegetables tend to be sturdy and clean, but egg boxes are an absolute goldmine. Ask the store manager if they have some boxes you can take off their hands.
  3. Bookstores: Given the weight of books, these stores often get deliveries in solid boxes. These are especially great for your personal library. 
  4. Big-Box Retailers: Stores like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot have vast inventories and regular shipments. With the sheer volume they deal with, there are likely spare boxes available. It’s especially at a big-box retailer to show up on restocking days.
  5. Office Supply Stores: Places like Staples or Office Depot receive shipments of printer paper. These boxes are smaller than boxes you’ll find elsewhere but extremely sturdy.
  6. Freecycle or Craigslist: These platforms often list free items, including moving boxes. Users looking to declutter or recently moved may offer their boxes to others for reuse.
  7. Facebook Marketplace: This social media platform is becoming a hub for local exchanges. You can find listings specifically in your area, allowing easy pickup of free or cheap moving supplies.
  8. Moving Companies: Some companies reuse boxes from previous moves. While they might sell some boxes, they could also have a collection of used ones they’re willing to give away or sell at a discount.
  9. Recycling Centers: These centers often receive a lot of boxes. Instead of immediately breaking them down for recycling, some centers might keep them aside for people who need them.
  10. U-Haul Box Exchange: U-Haul encourages the green practice of recycling boxes. This program allows customers to leave boxes for others to use or take boxes left by previous customers.
  11. Apartment Complexes: People move in and out of apartments regularly. Checking with the management office or even peeking around recycling areas can yield some free moving boxes.
  12. Schools and Universities: With supplies and materials coming in throughout the year, educational institutions often have a surplus of boxes. The end of semesters or academic years can be especially fruitful times.
  13. Book Swaps: For community-driven initiatives, book swaps provide a rich source of reading material and a consistent rotation of sturdy boxes.
  14. Public Libraries: Libraries frequently receive book donations or new stock in solid boxes. It’s worth inquiring if they have any available.
  15. Restaurants: Bulk ingredients and supplies often come in strong boxes. High-end restaurants, in particular, might have wine or liquor boxes that are very sturdy.
  16. Local Hardware Stores: These stores regularly receive shipments of tools, fixtures, and more. The packaging can be sturdy and durable, making excellent moving boxes.
  17. Coffee Shops: Beans, equipment, mugs – these items all come in boxes. Coffee shops, especially chain ones, might have a surplus of these lying around.
  18. Recycling Drop-Off Points: Some locations are designated drop-off points for recyclables. Here, you might find an array of boxes just waiting for a second life.
  19. Neighbors or Friends: Sometimes, just putting out the word in your community or circle of friends can yield positive results. People understand the stresses of moving and are often more than happy to help.
  20. Construction Sites: While primarily for building, these sites sometimes have equipment or materials delivered in large, sturdy boxes. Always ensure you ask permission before taking anything.
  21. Local Buy Nothing Groups: These community-centric groups promote sustainable living. People within these groups often post items they’re giving away, which can include moving boxes.

Wrapping It Up

From online marketplaces to local businesses, we’ve covered some of my favorite places to get free moving boxes. As stressful as moving is, it doesn’t have to break the bank. 

Sometimes, free resources are just a call or a click away. Keep these tips in your back pocket as you gear up for your move. And hey, every box you score is one less thing on that moving checklist.

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.