The first question on the minds of most folks about to embark on an apartment or house-to-house move is where can I buy moving boxes? But what if that is the wrong question? Where can I find moving boxes is a better question

The packing process can be a long and arduous one. It is full of stressors, but the earlier you get started, the less stressful it will be. One of the very first tasks is to find moving boxes. You are going to need all sorts of moving boxes, from the small to the very tall. Buying is an option, especially if you need specialized boxes, but you might be able to find what you need with some simple Internet sleuthing or a few trips to local bars, restaurants, retailers or schools in your area. Don’t forget to turn on the charm. These might be items usually headed for the recycling bin, but it never hurts to really lay it on thick when searching for free cardboard.

When hitting up stores and retailers for these boxes, getting the time of day right is key. Many places will compact all the cardboard from their deliveries right away, so you want to make sure you are around before that happens. Try to befriend some of these managers before you make plans to grab the boxes. Quality intelligence is key to knowing exactly when to make the request. Remember, we live in a supply and demand world, your mileage might vary.

And even if you decide you must find out, “where can I buy moving boxes,” keep reading all the way to the bottom of this article. We have you covered on that end as well.

Free Moving Box Options

Boxes from Liquor Stores and Bars

These establishments get deliveries every day. And those boxes need to be strong enough to tote big bottles of vodka and gin, as well as cases of beer. That means that they should be plenty strong enough to carry your books, kitchen items and dishes from one house to the next. Plus, these establishments might be small enough that they break down cardboard by hand, rather than in a large compactor. Which would give you a bigger window of time to get the boxes you need.

Community Websites

Craigslist or Freecycle are excellent sources of free stuff, especially boxes. Freecycle may not be as well known as Craigslist, but it may be a better source for quality boxes. And the good thing about these sites is that you hop right back on that site after you move and return the favor by re-gifting those cardboard boxes. Complete the circle of altruism!

Leverage Your Social Network

Even though you might not want to share your specific address on these social media sites, it never hurts to delve deep into your online trove of buddies to find some locals with extra boxes. Take advantage of your social network. Chances are there is someone you know who has just completed a big move. Put out a post asking for boxes and you will likely find a willing friend or two.

Hit Up Your Friends IRL for Boxes

Sometimes just combing the virtual world won’t cut it. Ask family, friends and acquaintances for box hook-ups– in real life. Seek out that family you know with 5 kids. I’ll bet they do a lot of shopping at Costco and other bulk stores. The packaging on items from those stores could be a real boon to your box search. Your friend that works at the grocery store might be able to hook you up with a supply of nice clean boxes as well. You want to make sure you steer clear of produce containers or anything that has seen the inside of the butcher’s section. And don’t even think about the seafood crates. Leave those for someone that doesn’t mind their new pad smelling like the ocean.

Ask Around at Work

With all the office supplies and other paraphernalia that is needed to run a modern office building, the deliveries are endless. Make friends with the dudes at the loading dock. They should certainly be able to spare a few boxes or containers. 

Your company may have its own mailroom, which would translate to a heck of a score. Even if they don’t, check with your office manager or facilities guy to see if there are any upcoming deliveries scheduled. They may be happy to get rid of all that unusable cardboard that would otherwise need to be broken down.

Office Supply Stores

Those boxes that computer paper comes in are extremely strong. With all the paper that Staples or any copy place goes through, they are likely to have extra paper boxes at some point during the day. Even though some of these chains would like to sell you moving boxes, it never hurts to ask the managers what they are looking to get rid of.

McDonald’s Fry Delivery Boxes

Swing by your local Mickey D’s to see if they have leftover boxes from their last French fry delivery.  We’ll let you in on an insiders’ moving secret: these particular boxes are super strong. And with all the fries that McDonald’s goes through (4 trillion, give or take a few), there should be plenty of boxes to go around.

Check out Local Schools

If you have a high school or a small college in your neighborhood, there may be a gold mine of boxes left over from bulk food shipments or textbook deliveries. Call the main office of the school to offer to take extra cardboard boxes off their hands. They may be receptive to getting rid of the extra packaging without doing the breaking down and recycling that is normally required.

U-Haul Box Exchange

U-Haul offers an online resource for customers to share or sell boxes and moving supplies to each other.

Going Green

If you have a hankering for saving the planet, you might want to rent plastic boxes, instead of getting cardboard ones. Some companies will deliver clean plastic bins to you and then pick them up from your new house or apartment when you are done. If you are committed to the environment and have the room in your budget, this might be the solution for you. At the very least, you will reduce the odds of finding unwanted critters. Sorry, but spiders and other vermin cozy up to cardboard.

Timing Is Everything

Your town or city probably has specific days when cardboard or paper goods go out for recycling. The night before, provided that the weather cooperates, take a stroll around your neighborhood to see if any of your neighbors put out a bounty. You might get lucky.

Where to Buy Moving Boxes?

After you exhaust all the possibilities for free cardboard boxes, you might need to buy some to fill your needs. Perhaps you need specialized wardrobe boxes for your hanging clothes. They are much simpler to use and better for your suits, dresses and fancy clothes than rolling them up in duffel bags. 

Or you may need boxes specifically designed for your electronics. Flatscreens, computer setups and the like are rather delicate beasts, so you want to make sure they are packed properly and can stand up to the rigors of any type of move. 

“Where can I buy moving boxes?”, you might ask. There are a number of excellent sources for fresh, clean boxes that can be assembled and modified just for your needs. And you don’t have to do any cajoling, charming or arm-twisting. All it takes is opening your wallet. 

FlatRate Moving Company

In our humble opinion, the best place to get your moving boxes is through FlatRate. First, you don’t have to get them yourself. The boxes are shipped directly to you. This is ideal if you live somewhere like New York City where you don’t own a car. Not to mention, it saves you time, gas money, and the effort of making several trips carrying them inside. If you live in an apartment or loft with a lot of stairs, you will definitely be thrilled about this.

Plus, FlatRate will help you figure out how many boxes you need. Most people guess how many boxes they need, and the number of boxes they get doesn’t even make a dent. However, you don’t want to buy more than what you need either. That’s money that can be better spent elsewhere.

Lastly, this gives you the opportunity to get specialty boxes, like those made specifically for a wardrobe, so you don’t end up with a mountain of ironing at your new place.


If FlatRate is not available in your area, Lowes is a solid option. You can buy individual small, medium, and large boxes online. You can also order a 35-pack kit of various sizes. You will need to figure out how many boxes you need though. So, you might want to take a quick inventory of your belongings for the most accurate estimate. Zillow has a Moving Boxes Estimator Widget that can be quite helpful.

Home Depot

Individual boxes are about the same price as what you find at Lowes. However, Home Depot does not have a bulk pack available, but the site does have wardrobe boxes, which Lowes currently does not offer. Again, you will need to determine the number you need on your own.


The online behemoth, of course, can provide you with moving boxes. Their UBox brand has bulk packages of small and medium boxes, as well as one that includes wardrobe boxes. Most are available through the websites Prime program, which means two-day shipping. 

No matter how you choose to gather up your boxes, the key is to start the process as early as possible. Even if you try to estimate all your belongings, down to the last wine glass, you will most likely forget something. Which is why you need such a wealth of options for finding free boxes or buying the right boxes.

Need Help With Your Move?

So you have secured some sturdy boxes and are ready to get down to the business of moving! Enter: FlatRate Movers. As the company that introduced the “flatrate” model to NYC over 20 years ago for local and long-distance moves, we would love to show you firsthand how we have earned our A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau by pleasing customers just like YOU!  Get a quote today.