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How to find moving boxes for free


You can find free moving boxes and other moving supplies. Buying boxes costs a good chunk of change. When the average cost of a local move exceeds a thousand dollars, and the average cost of a long-distance move comes close to five thousand dollars, every savings opportunity matters. The costs only go up when you include storage units, move-out cleaning services, move-in help, and more.

How much do moving boxes cost?

Good news! You can likely find enough free boxes to cover most of your moving needs. You may want special boxes for fragile items or irregularly shaped items. Otherwise, a variety of small, medium, and large standard moving boxes might cover your needs. If you buy boxes, expect them to cost anywhere from $2 to $12 for standard cardboard boxes with larger options or non-cardboard options costing more money. Instead, our team recommends the following resources for free moving supplies.

How many moving boxes do I need?

As you probably guessed, you will need more boxes if you live in a larger home. A one-bedroom move often requires 15 to 30 boxes, which costs up to $210 assuming a $7 average cost per box. A two-bedroom move often requires 30 to 50 boxes, which costs up to $350 with the same math. A four-bedroom move often requires 50 to 100 boxes or more, costing $700 or more with the same math, just for boxes! Depending on your non-bedroom needs, like kitchens and bathrooms, your move may even require over 100 boxes. It goes without saying, costs add up quickly.

So, what are your options for free moving boxes? Our team put together a list of 15 places to get moving boxes for free.

Where to find free moving boxes

U-Haul Box Exchange

U-Haul offers a Customer Connect Box Exchange program. This program allows folks from all over the country to connect and share moving supplies. To get started, just visit the site and search for “free boxes” or “free moving supplies” to find someone near you looking to offload extra supplies. People giving away supplies likely recently moved and need to get many boxes flattened and out of their home quickly.


Craigslist offers an online marketplace popular for bringing folks together to buy, sell, or trade just about anything. Families and individuals moving can list furniture needs or for sale opportunities, find free moving supplies, or even find moving help. To get started, visit Craigslist and search for boxes and moving supplies under the “Free” section and the “For Sale” section, where folks sometimes list items for free as well. You can even post your own request for free moving supplies and other people on the website can let you know if they can help you out.

The Freecycle Network

The Freecycle Network is a non-profit on a mission to help folks give away or find great free stuff in their local community. Signing up is free and gives you access to an entire online marketplace and community group. To get started, once you sign up, just post to the network and share that you need free moving boxes and moving supplies.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is the online marketplace part of the popular social media site that we use to connect with friends and family. Facebook also makes it easy for folks to find local items available for free from friends and neighbors. To get started, visit Facebook Marketplace and search for “free boxes” or “free moving supplies” in the search bar. From there, you can further narrow down results by filtering for your location.


Nextdoor is an online community for your local neighborhood. The website offers both a neighborhood hub and neighborhood marketplace for your local community. Think of it like Craigslist but with features that allow you to share news, updates, and other information with your neighbors, too. Often, neighbors post about free stuff either in your neighborhood hub or in your neighborhood marketplace. To get started, look around both areas of the website and search for “free boxes” to find what you need.


OfferUp is a local, mobile marketplace that offers a simpler way to buy and sell locally. You can find all sorts of items within a short distance from your home for sale or for free. To get started, just search for “free boxes” on the site and browse listings by folks hoping to offload extra boxes or recycled boxes.

Retail, grocery, and other stores

Retail, grocery, and other stores certainly collect lots of boxes. These types of stores regularly receive shipments as they restock and sell through inventory. With these shipments coming in almost every single day, you can likely help them and yourself by asking to recycle any empty boxes that you can gather and take home. To get started, check your local Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs, Home Depot, Office Depot, Target, World Market, Cabela’s, IKEA, PetSmart, K-Mart, Best Buy or GameStop, etc., and ask about free boxes. The best time of day to ask is right when employees are emptying boxes after restocking shelves and displays.

Coffee shops and restaurants

Just like big box stores, neighborhood coffee shops and restaurants often need to get rid of large amounts of cardboard boxes. Chains and locally owned stores alike run through inventory, restocking, and then need to either recycle or offload cardboard boxes from suppliers. Smaller businesses may not have the space of big box stores and commonly need to get rid of boxes faster. To get started, just visit a few of your local coffee shops and restaurants either right when they open in the morning or just before closing in the evening and ask if you can help offload some of their extra boxes.


One creative way to find free moving supplies is by recycling cardboard boxes from your workplace. Offices receive all sorts of packages every week. To get started, ask your manager or employer for permission. Then, start saving leftover package boxes as new deliveries come in each week. If your manager or employer allows it, you might even be able to reclaim cardboard boxes from recycling areas.

Apartment complexes

Apartment complexes often have community members moving in and moving out. No one wants to keep extra cardboard boxes around taking up space. If you find a friendly neighborhood who has extra boxes, you just might be able to help them recycle the extra supplies. You can ask the property manager or landlord if they could help you find extra boxes from other tenants.

College campuses

Like with apartment complex, college campuses and dorm buildings have tenants moving in and out regularly. As students come and go, so do piles of cardboard moving boxes and extra moving supplies. If you ask politely, you can help recycle some of these extra boxes and supplies to collect freebies for your own move.

Friends and family

What’s the simplest way to find free boxes? It’s simple, just ask your friends and family. Visit family, text friends, message folks you know who recently moved, and ask if you can help them recycle their extra cardboard boxes. Your friends and family will be happy to help you with their leftover moving boxes or perfectly good cardboard boxes from shipments and packages they receive.


One step beyond friends and family, you can also ask your neighbors for help with moving supplies. Take a walk down your block and see if anyone has cardboard boxes out with their recycling bins. Be sure to ask first, and if you get permission, help them recycle some of the boxes by using them for your move.

Schools and libraries

Just like stores and local businesses, schools also receive lots of shipments and collect a good number of cardboard boxes. All schools, from elementary to high school, likely can help you with free boxes. Call the school office and ask politely if they have any extra cardboard boxes that you could help recycle. You might find the most extra boxes at the beginning of a new quarter, semester, or school year, as this is when schools tend to get shipments of new books and supplies.

Recycled mail packages

Last, you can always recycle your own packages and shopping boxes. Families and individuals constantly buy things from online stores and marketplaces like Amazon, Zappos, etc. If you plan ahead, you can easily save up the boxes you receive in the mail as well as plastic bags.

Gentle reminders for box hunting

1. Always ask permission.
2. Do not use broken or damaged boxes – you can hurt yourself or others.
3. Share with friends, family, and colleagues that you are looking for boxes.
4. Be careful when accepting boxes from strangers.
5. Pay it forward and help others looking for free boxes, too.