People say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, how about a free box? We hear a lot about those, but where are they?
Maybe you miraculously happen upon a pile of boxes sitting by the curb. Or a friend who knows you’re moving takes will take it upon herself to swing by with a trunkful of usable cartons. Otherwise, scoring all the boxes you’ll need for your move will still cost you time and (probably) either gas money or postage.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try. People have gone into shock when they learn how much moving boxes can cost. And going into shock isn’t good when you have to move. So check out the following possibilities.
Best Places for Regular Boxes
Bookstores: Not just Barnes & Noble, but small independent bookstores too. University bookstores are another decent bet, particularly at certain times of the year.
Office Supply Stores: Office Depot, Kinko’s, FedEX and the like have super-strong computer paper boxes with lids. Any print shops in town might also have heavy-duty cartons to unload.
Restaurants: Most any fast-food joint gets their food delivered in sturdy “fry boxes” that are usually clean since they are used for frozen food.
Liquor Stores: Boxes for wine and liquor are not only sturdy but may come with those dividers if you need to pack fine crystal glassware.
Best Places for Large Boxes
Specialty Retailers: Clothing stores, drug stores, sporting goods stores, dollar stores, maybe even your local auto parts store.
Retail Giants: Stores like Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Target take in tons of inventory. (Try going at night when they are restocking the shelves.) Look for dry food boxes. Produce boxes may look strong and stout but with these, you run the risk of hauling bugs and critters into your home.
Recycling Centers: If your’s allow people to come in and take away boxes you may hit the motherlode here.
Websites and Other Places to Try
U-Haul: Not only are they everywhere now, but they are pretty hard-charging when it comes to reusing boxes. Certain locations will have a Take-a-Box/Leave-a-Box program in place (exclusively for paying U-Haul customers, perhaps, but it never hurts to ask). You can also check their online CustomerConnect page for people in your area looking to get rid of their used boxes (and possibly other packing materials).
Online Sites: Freecycle is one resource to try, though Craigslist is the go-to site for most people. Click on your area, click “free” link under the “For Sale” section, then search for “free boxes” in the search box at the top. NOTE: People also use craigslist to sell boxes. You may find a good deal, or you might try to trade them (since they probably just moved) their boxes for something you don’t need or want anymore.
Go online and compare prices among sellers like ULine, U-Haul and UsedCardboardBoxes.com. (Note that with this last option you can’t be sure exactly what size boxes you’ll be getting.) You might also try eBay, though this is rather hit or miss.
Try Facebook too. Search “free moving boxes (your town or area)” and see what comes up.
Local Self-Storage Facilities: Most now sell a whole range of packing supplies. Home centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s have also gotten into the moving boxes game.
AND of course, look for a moving company in your area. The agencies for the big van lines like United, Atlas, North American, Allied and Mayflower will almost always have stacks and stacks of used boxes, in all sizes, that you can grab for cheap. Some of them might even have packing paper too. Give them a quick call before you drive over to check.
Wherever and however you get your boxes, be sure they are in clean and in good shape. No matter how cheap they are, there’s no value in getting your stuff dirty or crushed.
Happy Box Hunting!