Moving Soon? How and Where to Get Free Boxes to Save Money

We’re coming up on one of the most dreaded activities I can think of once again… We are getting ready to pack up all of our stuff and move to yet another residence!

My Dad was in the military when I was growing up and that meant moving every two to four years as we got assigned new duty stations. That gives us plenty of experience and also makes me dread moving again that much more.

Even after my dad retired we still seemed to end up moving every two to four years. Sometimes it was a new job for my dad and other times it was me leaving for college, moving into an apartment or switching jobs myself. The one good thing about moving so many times is I now know how to move my stuff pretty well!

In addition to learning how to move I’ve also learned how to save money while moving. One of the biggest costs can be packing materials (moving boxes, wrapping paper, bubble wrap, etc.) and I’m going to share with you how I managed to get these items for free!

How and Where to Get Free Boxes for Moving

The how part of getting free boxes is the easiest part. All you have to do is ask someone who has some spare boxes! The real question is where is that person that has some spare boxes and how do you locate them!


One of the best places to search for free moving boxes is craigslist, especially if you live in an area where people move often such as near a military base. I generally find my boxes in the free section ofΒ craigslist. These boxes tend to be the highest quality boxes because they’re normally moving boxes.

The last two times we’ve moved I’ve found my boxes on craigslist. The first time we got a ton of great moving boxes and supplies from a couple who had just moved back to the US from Korea (military). Just last weekend I was able to get a ton of great moving boxes and supplies from a couple that moved to the US from Germany for a three year position in their company.

If there aren’t any boxes posted for free on craigslist you can always try putting up a wanted ad. I haven’t ever had to do it but you might get a response for someone looking to get rid of all of the boxes out of their freshly unpacked house!

Liquor Stores and Grocery Stores

Liquor stores and grocery stores are great places to get boxes. These won’t be your standard moving boxes but most of them are pretty sturdy, especially liquor store boxes. The items we buy have to get to the liquor and grocery stores safely and most of them come in boxes.

Ask to speak to the store manager and let them know that you’re going to be moving soon. Ask if they have any boxes they can spare and when would be a good time to come pick them up. If the store allows you to get the boxes it will likely be after they receive a shipment from their supplier.

Some stores won’t allow you to take boxes though. Why? They actually sell their boxes to recyclers after they break them down and bale them.

In fact, I doubt you’ll ever get a box from Wal-Mart for this reason. Wal-Mart goes as far as to print the value of each box right on the box. I’ve seen some boxes say something like “This box is worth $0.42 to Wal-Mart. Make sure you break it down and recycle it.”

Your Employer

Another option for a place to get boxes is your employer! If your place of employment orders any type of supplies or use cases of paper on a regular basis you should be able to find some boxes at work. Just ask to see if whoever unpacks the supplies could hold some for you instead of throwing them away.

This worked great for me when I moved to Florida. I worked for an accounting firm before I moved and we use a TON of paper to print the tax returns we delivered to our clients. They saved all of the paper boxes for me and they worked great because they’re sturdy and they’re all the same size so I could stack them easily.

If you work in a hospital you may be able to get medical supply boxes as well. No matter where you work, try to think of something you use that comes in boxes and chances are you might be able to score some free boxes.

Make Sure the Boxes Are Fit For Your Use

Make sure that the boxes you get will work for you before you take them home. If the boxes won’t suit your purpose and you take them home you’re going to be the one stuck getting rid of them. Having extra junk cluttering up your house is the last thing you need when you’re moving.

How often have you moved? Do you have any other tips for getting free boxes? Let us know in the comments down below!

Like What You See?

Join the other readers who have signed up for our email newsletter! No spam, just periodic updates to help improve your finances!

About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. This is definitely a timely post for me as a move is possible in the near future. I never thought about checking out Craigslist. I would always hit up the grocery store. I also never knew about Walmart writing how much each box is worth on it.

  2. OMG! I hate moving!!! Good tips, but I feel for you man!

  3. Nice tips.

    I know quite a few people that work at the local supermarket and they normally provide me with old banana boxes or something equally sturdy so it saves me having to look around.

  4. While I don’t have tips for boxes, I do have one for moving day: I’m busy that day…. πŸ˜‰

  5. We moved a lot when I was growing up, but thankfully have not moved I six years. I hate moving, even more so now that we have so much junk with all of the kids. Great tips on the boxes!

  6. I hate moving. The only thing I hate more is helping friends move*.

    I never knew that about Walmart… that’s a fun fact

    *I will help friend’s move, but it is rare, I have decided I am old enough and they are old enough that pizza and beer just doesn’t cut it anymore and there is zero percent chance I will help you move if you aren’t renting a large truck because multiple trips = too much time

  7. My sister used to work in a lab, I guess they get a lot of boxes of lab supplies and stuff. She told me that before she’d move, she would always just start hoarding teh boxes they’d get in.

  8. Thankfully, I have moved very few (8) times! Some of the time it was company moves which meant they packed everything. I think I only have one more move in me which is to a single level home sometime in the future.

  9. When we moved we went to the liquor store around the corner. You are right they are nice strong boxes. We looked like alcoholics to our movers as well.

  10. Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    My wife and I have only moved once, though we are planning to move whenever our house finally sells. I work in an office environment and near the person responsible for ordering paper for our department…. so all I have to do is ask her for the empty boxes, and I’m all set. Paper boxes work great too, because they are very sturdy and have actual lids and handles.

  11. In the first 18 years of my life I moved 12 times, then with college, getting married and eventually buying a house, I’ve actually stopped counting.

    If you know you’re going to be moving again soon and have the storage, it’s a huge benefit to collapse and save your boxes. We knew we weren’t going to be in our apartment for more than a year before buying a house, so we stored all of our boxes in the unit provided by the complex. If you’re moving soon after a friend, ask to use their boxes. We’re saving our boxes in our attic for my best friend who is moving soon.

    Warehouse clubs are also good places to get boxes. Alcohol, copy paper and medical supply boxes are super sturdy and manageable sizes. If you know someone who gets medical supply shipments (i.e. insulin pump supplies) as them to save their boxes for you.

    Good luck with your move!

  12. In addition to my previous comment (that was already really long, sorry!). Ask your local Avon lady for her boxes. Boxes from Avon shipments are very similar to paper boxes. (Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and other reps may have great boxes as well)

  13. I would have never thought to use Craigs List to find boxes. That is a really good idea! I usually always go to the grocery store. But then all my stuff smells like old bananas and liquor. πŸ™‚

  14. I used to work for a grocery store when I was young and remember having people come up to me asking if we had some extra boxes in the back. Never needed to ask why, we always gave it to them. I think that is a very interesting fact you stated about Walmart. I never knew they sold the boxes back to recyclers when I was younger.

  15. If I was ever in need of boxes I always got them from my employer. I did bookkeeping for a department store and they would save empty boxes for when they needed to pack up out of season items. There were always plenty on hand!

  16. It’s really a pain to move but hey, we all got our reasons. Yeah, Craigslist is good place to start looking for boxes and good for saving money. Got ours there the last time we moved and they’re pretty cheap.

  17. My wife worked at a high-end department store, had the sweetest boxes of all time. Super nice! I also have access to boxes at work, and heck, why not drop into the liquor store for some boxes AND whiskey πŸ˜‰

    Hope the home-buying process is going well!

  18. Freecycle if there is one in your area is a great place to get moving boxes.

  19. I moved every year in college (and some after) exclusively using boxes from liquor and grocery stores–great tip! It’s funny to go into my basement storage unit and see some of them still lingering with Christmas decorations, etc. πŸ™‚

Share Your Thoughts