Moving moving moving (part 3 in a series)

By Mir
February 26, 2007

I had the nicest man come give me an estimate on my move, and he told me something that I already knew, but maybe you don’t: Don’t buy your boxes from the moving company. The don’t get them all that cheap, to begin with, and then they mark them up before they sell them to you. Now, if they’re packing for you, you have to let them use their boxes. But if you’re doing all of your own packing or—like me—most of your own packing, you’ll need some boxes.

Or perhaps a gazillion boxes.

Now you know that I am going to be referring to the good folks over at Moving Scam for lots and lots of move-related advice in the coming months, but I have to tell you that their recommended box source didn’t pass my litmus test. Good product? Yes. Best bargain? Sorry, but no.

I’ll be buying boxes from Metroboxes for my upcoming move. Their prices are significantly lower than the other dozen sites I checked out. The only real difference I could find (other than their lower prices) was that most box sites have free shipping regardless of your order size, and here you have to order $75+ for free shipping.

Um, I’m going to be up to $75 before I finish packing up my kids’ rooms. So, no problem there! Also, please send alcohol!


  1. Wine/liquor boxes cannot be beat for packing books (small but hold the weight) or your kitchen (the dividers are great). I felt like I totally scored before our last move when the nice, nice folks at the wine store let me come in and repeatedly fill up my car with empty boxes. I probably looked like an alcoholic come moving time, but hey, it worked great for us!

    I don’t envy you, Mir. Moving sucks. I know you will start the dreaded packing soon. Best wishes!

  2. I am with Andrea – liquor boxes are the best. I not onlyl hit the liquor stores, but any neighborhood bar empties alot of boxes in one night. The next best thing? Someone else who just moved. We pass boxes on to one person to the next. The boxes I just moved with last month had also been used by my father from his move earlier that month, my sister that moved last fall, and my other sister who had moved last May. Of course, to keep with tradition, I just stuffed all the empty boxes into my mother’s attic because she is planning on moving in about 2-3 months.

  3. If you have any friends who work in office settings, bulk paper boxes (like this) are really sturdy and durable. Great for books, dishes, and just about anything else!

  4. Oooh…Another Andrea is soo right! I got some of those bulk paper boxes at a big box office supply store. The only catch was that an employee had to walk me out to my car with the boxes (I guess to make sure I didn’t steal any merchandise in them…whateva!). I still use those boxes up on closet shelves for things I get into regularly (like for storing future gifts).

    One last idea is to buy storage boxes from an office supply store. This may sound crazy, but we found a “buy one get two free” deal on 6 packs of boxes, so we made this small investment. Now we continue to use them for finances, etc that need to be kept in file folders for the long haul.

    PS Jen–Great minds think alike. I inherited boxes from friends for 2 of my moves. Recycling rocks!

  5. If you live in or near a Craigslist town, post a request for moving boxes there. I bet you’ll find someone happy to let you haul them off.

    I actually paid a man $25 for a whole house’s worth of professional moving boxes when we moved out of Florida. It was well worth it to not have to go scrounging moving boxes at liquor stores, etc. (Although that is a great source, I admit.)

    (If you’re moving TO a Craigslist or Freecycle town, post a giveaway for them when you’re finished with them and pass along your good fortune to someone else!)

  6. We always hit up McDonalds. Their french fry boxes are just the perfect size and after the lunch rush everyday you can get tons and tons of them.

  7. Banana Boxes are the best. Sturdy and a lid what more can someone ask for.

  8. Check Craigslist or Freecycle for boxes. When we moved, we were more than happy to GIVE away all the empty boxes and packing paper just to get it out of here.

  9. I should’ve known I couldn’t past anything past you pretty people. Obviously, this is applicable only to those who need to buy boxes. Absolutely, exhaust all methods of getting them for free, first. 😉

  10. We moved 5 times in 7 years and found the Dollar Tree to be an awesome source for boxes…You have to find out when their “shipment day” is and get there before the recyling people but it is worth it. The best part there is the BIG boxes you can get for light things (toys, clothes, towels etc.)

  11. Definitely hit Freecycle–I’ve both given and received moving boxes there more than once and it was the best way to get a wide variety of sizes. Liquor boxes are nice and sturdy, but oh so SMALL! (The further along in the packing I get, the larger the boxes get as I just start dumping everything into one big box…) I also hit a good sale at an office supply store by chance as they were clearing out a ton of the “fold your own” file sized boxes. Super sturdy, and I think I got them for about a buck apiece, or maybe less–it’s been a while.

    The other thing I found to be great for moving are those big Rubbermaid (or similar) bins. Easy to stack, easy to carry. But of course, I only recommend that if you could use them for organization in your home after the move. Nice and reusable.

  12. I still have banana boxes I got from a grocery store eight years ago. After five moves (running from the law, obviously), they’re still going strong.

    For those of you with memberships, has several moving box kits that look almost competitive (like 20 medium boxes for $35.99 shipped). Not as good Mir’s link above.

  13. kinkos… they have tons of empty boxes as their paper comes in, and they’re willing to give you as many as they have. it’s worth a phone call first, but those boxes are GREAT for books and other things – and are a convenient size for carrying. i found that boxes that were too much bigger than that are just awkward, especially when heavy.

  14. oh – and they have lids, which a lot of the other boxes i found for free didn’t have.

  15. It’s Girl Scout Cookie time. That means there are lots and lots of empty cases around. Nice consistent size, and clean. Should be VERY nice for books and other dense items.

  16. Only problem with boxes from food places is the potential for BUGS — not uncommon in a city store, anyway. The last thing you want to be packing into your new place.

  17. If you have a Barnes & Noble nearby, hit them up for some boxes from their receiving department. They have all different sizes, and the bigger ones can carry up to 50lbs; not that you would want to do that, just saying 😉

  18. Call your local paint-your-own pottery store and ask them if you can get boxes and packing material from them. All of that pottery gets shipped to them, and it obviously survives man-handling by UPS or FedEx guys. They also have peanuts, bubble wrap, etc. that they may want to dispose of. My local PYOP will be happy to give anyone boxes.

    (oh, and I found a studio locator —

  19. If you work for a company ask your clerk, receptionist or shipping person for boxes too. Obviously depends upon where you work/what the company does but office supplies often come in big boxes.

    Also, because they’re so bloody expensive, I typically just keep my boxes after a move. Especially if I have storage space and I know I’m going to be moving again. (Which, if you live in an apartment as I do, you can pretty much depend upon the fact that you’ll be moving at some point.) I haven’t had to buy boxes for about 5 years – and I’ve moved cross-country twice!

  20. I just hit the cardboard box jackpot – 60-70 medium to large sturdy boxes from the electronics store downtown. The saleslady did a little dance and almost paid ME to get rid of them for her! Apparently, after the boxed products get unpacked, these heavy-duty outer boxes flood their storage room. And to think I almost didn’t ask for fear of feeling silly… 🙂
    P.S. Double the boxes b/c we’re trading houses with my in-laws…

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