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Need Free Moving Boxes? Here's Where to Find Them

Moving is expensive, but at least you don't have to pay for boxes.

Nina Raemont Writer
A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Nina started at CNET writing breaking news stories before shifting to covering Security Security and other government benefit programs. In her spare time, she's in her kitchen, trying a new baking recipe.
Blake Stimac Writer
Blake has over a decade of experience writing for the web, with a focus on mobile phones, where he covered the smartphone boom of the 2010s and the broader tech scene. When he's not in front of a keyboard, you'll most likely find him playing video games, watching horror flicks, or hunting down a good churro.
Nina Raemont
Blake Stimac
4 min read
Cardboard boxes

You can find all the free moving boxes you need if you know where to look.

Getty Images

If you're getting ready to move, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Maybe you've had to put down a pricy security deposit, or you're weighing the costs and benefits of hiring a mover or renting a truck. On top of all that, you still need to buy a bunch of cardboard boxes... or do you?

While it might not sound like a huge expense, if you have a lot of stuff, you're going to need a lot of boxes. If you're trying to stay frugal during your move, the expense of buying cardboard boxes could surprise you once it's all said and done. 

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Luckily, you have many options to find free cardboard boxes, and we're going to lay out some of the best spots to make your move slightly cheaper. 

For more moving tips, check out the best moving companies for 2024 and six common moving day mistakes to watch out for.

How much do cardboard boxes cost? 

Depending on the size of the cardboard box you're purchasing, you'll probably spend around $1 to $3 per box at The Home Depot, Lowe's or U-Haul. If you don't have a lot of stuff or are moving from something like a studio apartment, this might not be a big financial investment, but it can add up pretty quickly. 

Where can I get cardboard moving boxes for free? 

Before you shell out for boxes, see if you can get all you need for free.

Recycling centers: Visit your local recycling center to find broken-down cardboard boxes. This may be a good first stop for you, as there's bound to be some type of cardboard boxes for you to take. 

U-Haul Customer Connect: U-Haul offers customers a service to exchange their boxes with each other through Customer Connect. Through this U-Haul Box Exchange, you can see postings from people who need boxes or need to get rid of them. 

This service may work for you, but you'll need some luck. If you can find someone in your area giving away boxes right as you need them, that's fantastic, but it may be easier to visit a local retailer or check other community apps. 

Liquor stores: Reddit users recommend using boxes from liquor stores for your move, because those are some of the sturdiest boxes, and they may come with useful dividers for packing glasses and fragile items. 

The best part of opting to check liquor stores is that, depending on where you live, there's likely a multitude of locations to check out. 

Big box stores: Retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco and Best Buy receive loads of cardboard boxes every day as they constantly stock and restock merchandise. 

It's a little-known secret that if you visit Walmart after 10 p.m., you can get loads of broken-down boxes. For your local big box stores, try to call in advance or check when the right time to pick up boxes will be, as the time when stores receive merchandise varies. 

Grocery stores: Your local grocery store receives new produce and merchandise every day, so it's bound to have extra boxes. You'd be doing them a favor by taking the boxes off their hands, so they may be happy to give them to you. Again, check with them to see when is the best time to grab boxes.

Office stores: Outlets like Staples, Office Depot or OfficeMax are great stores to check when you're scouting for boxes. For stores that sell paper, you can snag boxes that come with those handy lids -- great for books and other personal items. 

Bookstores: Check your local Barnes & Noble or independent bookstore to see if they have some boxes they need to get rid of. Like some of the big box retailers, bookstores get several shipments of, well, books, and the boxes will likely be on the sturdier side. 

Your social circle: Your friends, family and neighbors all probably have at least a few empty cardboard boxes hanging around. Check to see if they have any they'd be willing to give you ahead of your move. 

Cardboard dumpster diving: If you're feeling adventurous, some Redditors suggest trying to find your boxes from dumpsters. Several large retailers have dedicated dumpsters that are meant only for cardboard. So if you've exhausted your options and don't mind throwing some gloves on, have at it. 

Check out community apps

Craigslist's "free" section, NextDoor and BuyNothing: Community apps for giving away or selling stuff are other great options for free cardboard moving boxes. Community members who recently moved into your neighborhood may be giving away their boxes. You can also post a friendly request for free cardboard boxes. 

Through our research, several Redditors mentioned they had a lot of success finding free cardboard boxes from Facebook Marketplace. So it may be worth checking out the options available in your area. 

Don't forget to use any and all cardboard boxes you have around the house. Yes, those Amazon boxes will work -- finally, those impulsive online shopping orders are coming in handy. 

Need more moving tips? Here are ways to make your move more eco-friendly and seven must-have moving apps.