Most people will agree that there’s nothing fun about moving. It feels good to be unpacked and living in a new place, but the process of packing and moving boxes out of your old place is a chore that most people don’t enjoy.
And before you can pack anything, you’ll need two key things:
Boxes and packing tape.
You’ll want to buy a few rolls of packing tape and a tape dispenser. Rolling a dispenser is much easier than trying to cut that sticky tape with scissors or ripping it with your teeth.
But we do not recommend buying boxes — there are plenty of places to get them for free!
Here are seven places you’ll find free moving boxes when you’re ready to leave your old apartment and move to your next home.
1. Grocery Stores
How many times have you had to squeeze your cart down a grocery store aisle because someone with a massive palette of goods was stocking shelves?
It’s happened to all of us many times, and that’s because grocery stores get frequent deliveries and strive to keep their shelves full at all times.
And a lot of those grocery items are packed in boxes.
Ask your favorite checkout clerk if you can have some empty boxes the next time they unpack their trucks and stock their shelves. If you don’t feel comfortable asking, you can also check the recycling bin in the parking lot.
There’s a good chance you’ll find plenty of broken-down boxes just sitting there, ready to be picked up.
2. Big Box Stores
- They get deliveries almost daily.
- They sell large items that come in big, oversized boxes.
The next time you see a store associate stocking a shelf, ask if they have any empty boxes in the back. If you catch them while they’re in the middle of stocking inventory, they might have some boxes intact that they haven’t had a chance to break down yet.
By taking them off their hands, you’re actually doing them a favor!
In most cases, their sales associates will be thrilled at the idea of having one less task to do.
Start your search at your local pharmacy, such as the one where you fill prescriptions. Ask a clerk that knows you or at least recognizes you when they’re getting their next shipment.
They may not have the room to hold empty boxes for you in their storage space. But if you can be there when they’re unloading their next shipment, they’ll probably let you have them.
4. Liquor Stores
You won’t find huge boxes at the liquor store, but you will find small, sturdy boxes that are great for packing fragile items. After all, those whiskey, wine, and vodka bottles are heavy!
Liquor stores almost always have boxes in their back room that they haven’t had a chance to break down. Like pharmacies, you’ll be doing them a favor by taking them.
The busier your local Starbucks is, the easier it will be to score some free boxes. Like most retailers, Starbucks focuses on stocking their shelves and providing customer service. Breaking down boxes is something they do only when they have time.
Feel awkward asking for free boxes?
We recommend starting with the Starbucks you visit most often and telling your favorite barista that you’re planning to move.
Strike up a casual conversation while they make your latte, then segue into the fact that you still have to pack … it’s the perfect way to casually say hey, do you have any empty boxes in back that I can use?
Just don’t ask your Frappuccino-masters for boxes in the middle of the morning rush. It’s much better to do so on off-peak hours during the afternoon or evening when they’re not that busy.
6. Your Neighbors
A great place to find free boxes is your current apartment building or houses on your current block.
Put the word out to your neighbors that you’re moving and see if they’ll save their empty delivery boxes for you. Ask them to leave the boxes outside their door, and you can walk around the building or neighborhood to collect them at the end of the day.
You can also check the recycling bin in your apartment complex. This is the perfect place to find clean, sturdy boxes. (It’s even easier if your building requires that you separate cardboard from plastics and bottles).
Some apartment complexes have strict rules for breaking down boxes, while others do not. Do your neighbors pile up Amazon boxes outside the recycling bin rather than folding them down and stuffing them inside? If so, you’ve got it made!
You can find anything on Craigslist, including free boxes.
Under the “For Sale” section of Craigslist is a subsection titled “Free.” People list everything on there, from empty boxes to hangers to bulky furniture that they don’t want to pay to haul away.
While you’re browsing Craigslist, you might want to consider listing some of your own items on there that you’re willing to give away for free.
The less you have to pack, the easier moving will be!
There’s another great place to find free boxes that we didn’t mention in this list:
If you’re not one of the millions of people working from home right now, snag some of those boxes that hold printer paper. Those easy lift-top lids make them ideal for packing!
When you’re ready to move, don’t spend any money on moving boxes. You can find them for free at:
- Grocery stores
- Big box stores
- Liquor stores
- Coffee shops
- Your neighbors
- Your office
Hiring movers and renting a moving truck is expensive enough. By gathering free boxes, you can eliminate one more unnecessary expense in the dreaded moving process.
Then, all that’s left to do is to decorate your new place!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Prose the Rim to help them with their online marketing.