It’s always nice to get something for free, especially when you’re getting ready for a costly house move. It can be really tough to estimate just how costly your move will turn out to be, but one thing you can be sure is that it won’t be as cheap as you would like it to be.
Before you start the packing marathon, the question of where to get free moving boxes will momentarily take center stage, and that’s perfectly understandable. Why should you pay for something when you can find it for free?
After all, when it comes to packing materials, cardboard boxes are known as the biggest packing expense because of the great number of containers you will need to have your items packed up and ready for transportation.
Find below useful information on how to get cardboard boxes free of charge, including a checklist of all the places that give free moving boxes. But before that, let’s say a few words about why you shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of scoring free moving boxes for your upcoming residential move.
Free moving boxes? What you must know.
Whenever you have the rare chance not to pay for something, be it an object or a service, you should seriously consider taking that opportunity. Yes, you should consider it instead of going for it blindly simply because you do want to avoid some of the usual traps that come with free stuff.
The idea for free moving boxes sounds really nice and tempting but there is a catch too! Here’s what you must know when looking for free moving boxes:
- Good overall condition. There are several good ways to get your hands on free packing boxes /see below/ but the fact that you won’t be paying for those cartons doesn’t mean that you should automatically agree to take all of them. Sure, your goal is to save money by not purchasing brand new cardboard boxes but if any of those containers break during a house move due to their poor condition, then you risk of damaging whatever items have been packed inside. The risk of sustaining a personal injury or causing property damage is also greater should you choose to use free moving boxes with substandard quality. So, be careful not to get too greedy and accept only cardboard containers in good overall condition to prevent bigger problems in the end.
- Strength. It’s hard to determine just how strong a box is unless you put to the test during the packing task later. Nevertheless, the cardboard containers you are offered for free should look sturdy enough with no holes of any kind, and no torn, ripped, or weak spots either. The lids should be present as well. Take a closer look at the seams of the packing boxes as they the places that get worn out the fastest
- Cleanliness. One of the major differences between new packing boxes and used cardboard boxes is just how clean they are. Because of their unrivaled level of versatility, cardboard containers can be used for storage and transportation of all kinds of things both animate and inanimate – vegetables, fruits, small animals, or even chemicals. Inspect carefully the free cardboard boxes for moving you are offered and make sure they are clean enough to serve you well. Infestation is a serious problem when it comes to second-hand boxes so if you have your doubts, don’t risk it.
Dryness. Another thing to look out when inspecting free moving boxes is how dry they are at that moment in time and whether or not they seem to have withstood water damage in the past. Look for wet sports or any signs of mold growth on them – if you do find anything suspicious, don’t accept the box or boxes no matter how desperately you want to save on packing supplies. Ultimately, your health and the well-being of the prized possessions you plan to move to your new home are worth more than that.
- Purpose. Try to keep in mind what the cheap or free moving boxes will contain and select the containers according to their purpose. Large boxes should be used for lighter items, while medium-sized and smaller ones should store heavier things such as books, for example. People often disregard this safety rule when packing up for a move, and then often wish they didn’t.
Extra risks of getting free cardboard boxes
By now you should be well aware of the 3 major risks of using second-hand moving boxes:
- If your boxes are not strong enough, they may break under the weight when being carried around and the items inside them will probably break too when they hit the ground.
- If your boxes are not clean enough, they could damage the items inside them or even be harmful to your health and the health of the people around you, especially if there’s some kind of parasitic infestation or mold growth.
- If your boxes are not dry enough, they will have a number of weak spots that may easily compromise the integrity of the cardboard, and that will lead to serious Moving day safety concerns.
However, there are a couple of somewhat hidden risks as well when you choose to find free moving boxes or to get cheap moving boxes.
- Lost time. Your mission to find cheap or free moving boxes may be successful in the end, but how much time did you lose in the process? Don’t forget to factor in the hours or days you’ve spent because the time factor is one of the most important ones during a residential move. If you manage to save money by collecting free moving boxes but lose 2 entire days (or more!) during that hunt, then maybe you didn’t save much in the end, did you?
- Extra expenses. Driving around your neighborhood or city, or visiting various businesses in your area in search of free cardboard boxes will not only cost you time, but it will incur extra costs as well, like gas money. The energy and efforts you invest into obtaining those free packing boxes for moving won’t even be included in the rough estimate.
Good to know: All you need to know about hiring professional packers
Best places to get free moving boxes
Now that you have all the information you need to decide whether looking for cheap or free cardboard boxes will be worth it, let’s take a closer look at the best places for free moving boxes.
Friends and neighbors
Each successful house move leaves plenty of cardboard boxes that get thrown away even though they can be re-used at least one more time. So, if you know somebody in your neighborhood who has recently moved, then you can simply go to that person and ask them if they have any cardboard boxes they won’t need anymore. Oftentimes, good neighbors will gladly give you the packing containers they were planning to recycle anyway.
It’s easier with friends unless they live like 3 time zones away. Ask your circle of pals about spare boxes, either face to face or by using the power of social networks – a brief Facebook or Twitter post can help you collect more moving boxes that you’ll actually need, sometimes much more than going around and checking with local businesses.
The Internet is a good place to get free moving boxes provided that the people who happen to offer such packing and moving containers live in your area, or are able to ship those cardboard containers to you at minimal shipping costs. Otherwise, the whole online search won’t be worth your time and efforts.
Notable mentions when you’re searching for free moving boxes online are:
- Freecycle. This famous site has more than 9 million registered users worldwide /Freecycle membership is free/ who offer all types of no longer wanted items completely free of charge. Just do a local search and see if anyone who lives near you offers cardboard boxes for moving. Yes, they should be free.
- Craigslist. No introduction is needed for Craigslist – just search for moving boxes and see who offers such in your location. Additionally, it’s worth checking if other types of packing supplies are offered as well, such as second-hand Bubble wrap or used but still usable packing paper.
Packing checklist: Packing timeline for moving
Retail stores and medium-sized local businesses that get frequent shipments of goods delivered directly to them will have plenty of cardboard containers in all shapes and sizes. Such local businesses are required to dispose of those corrugated cardboard boxes in an environmentally-friendly way – that is, to recycle them properly. And as you can imagine, if somebody can spare them those cardboard recycling efforts, then that’s even better for them.
Find below a pretty detailed list of places that offer free cardboard moving boxes. Go to a few large retail stores, speak with their managers, and see what they will tell you. Basically, the worst that can happen is for them to say No, so you can only win from your decision to save money on packing materials. And considering the average costs of moving house, your smart decision to look for free moving boxes, combined with other cost-saving tips and tricks, will let you save big on your upcoming residential move.
Where to get free cardboard boxes near you?
Large supermarkets. Big grocery stores get deliveries on a daily basis so they are probably your best chance of going home with enough cardboard containers to last you at least 3 house moves in a row. Get in contact with a few big supermarkets in your area and see if they will be willing to part with the excess of boxes, and if yes, whether they have any requirements about the pick-up time.
- Shopping centers. Shopping centers house numerous individual stores that also tend to have more cardboard boxes than they know what to do with. Shoe boxes can be ideal for fitting the smaller items you own.
- Home electronics stores. The boxes you can find in such electronics stores are almost always clean as they have been used for transportation of electronic devices. Some of these containers can be too big, but hey, that’s okay – you can always cut them up and use the cardboard itself for various protective purposes.
- Bookstores. Again, the containers you will find there are as clean as they can get. Also, cartons for transportation of books are usually stronger /double-walled/ which should come very handy for your collection of books or for some other heavier things in your home.
- Liquor stores. Specialized liquor stores usually have stronger boxes designed to withstand the extra weight of glass bottles. Some of the containers they use will be made of plastic, and that’s even perfect provided that you can convince them to give them to you free of charge.
- Recycling centers. Well, most cardboard boxes end up right there in various recycling centers. The good news is that not all containers that go there are in bad shape. So, if there’s a recycling center in your vicinity, maybe a quick visit there first will save you loads of time and efforts. Just remember to be fairly picky about the condition of the boxes you agree to take home with you.
As mentioned above, getting something for free is great, but there’s usually another price to pay for that – your time. It’s definitely a good idea to contact a few reputable local movers and see what offers they will give you – they may be able to offer you cheap moving boxes, or they can offer you a really good package price for a packing service that will include the cost of all packing materials.