Moving houses is not an easy experience, nor is it particularly cheap. From hiring a moving company to renting a storage unit, the costs of moving quickly add up. 

One of the most irritating soft costs when relocating is cardboard boxes. It’s particularly frustrating to dip into your moving budget for something you’ll just be recycling after you move. Even if you find cheap moving boxes, you’re still going to resent shelling out money for them. 

However, if you’re smart about it, you can get boxes for moving without spending a single cent. If you’re wondering where to get free cardboard boxes, we’ve got you.

Here are 26 places to get free moving boxes:

1. Craigslist

You can find pretty much anything on Craigslist. The online marketplace arguably has the largest free section of any website. You can utilize this for free cardboard boxes.

Simply go to the free section and search for moving or storage boxes. You’ll be inundated with options. Moreover, you can also post your own ad to let users know you’re after free boxes or other free moving supplies. 

2. U-Haul Box Exchange

U-Haul’s Customer Connect Box Exchange allows you to exchange and search for free moving boxes (or any other free moving supplies you want).

All you need to do is enter your location and/or search for a term such as “free boxes”. This will connect you with people nearby who are eager to get rid of their moving boxes. This is similar to Craigslist, but the results you get will be a bit more quality over quantity.

PRO TIP: The best time to search for free moving boxes on Craigslist or U-Haul is on a Monday or Tuesday, just after fellow movers have completed their move over the previous weekend.

3. Liquor Stores

Boxes from liquor stores are ideal for moving because they’re extremely durable and sturdy; they have to be to transport all those glass bottles!

Why not go in to strike up a relationship with the manager and ask him or her to put some aside for you? They’re usually happy to do it. Just make sure you visit them in the afternoon, before the evening rush. 

4. Book Stores

Big bookstore chains, like Barnes & Noble, receive all their books in sturdy cardboard boxes. These are ideal for moving, especially for packing and moving books.

They’re well-known for being stores that give away cardboard boxes. Therefore, make sure you find out when your local bookstore’s shipment is and arrive on time to collect their leftover boxes (as a few other people will likely be doing something similar).

5. Freecycle

Freecycle is a great online resource for anyone moving houses. Not only can you find free moving boxes, but you may be able to pick up some furniture for your new place. 

Join your local Freecycle group and search to see if anyone is already offering them. In addition, it’s also a good place for you to get rid of any unwanted items you haven’t been able to shift before your move.

6. Starbucks

The average Starbucks requires a plethora of different items delivered to keep all of us caffeine-fiends satisfied and productive. As a result, the average Starbucks cafe can have anywhere between 2-3 shipments of supplies a week. 

These come in a wide range of large and small boxes – all of which have to be sturdy. This makes it a good option for free moving boxes. Just go in and ask the manager to set some aside with you. Better still, you can grab a coffee while you’re at it.

7. Large Retailers

Large retailers – such as Walmart, Target, or Costco – are hotbeds for cardboard boxes and all receive regular shipments. 

However, due to the sheer size of their operation, they typically throw them away or recycle them extremely quickly. Therefore, if you want to take advantage of this, call ahead and ask them to put some boxes aside from their next shipment. Or go in during less busy in-store hours and ask (typically in the week and before midday).

8. Schools

Schools get A LOT of deliveries. With that in mind, why not try connecting with the janitorial staff at your children’s school?

It’s likely they’d be more than happy for you to take the boxes off their hands and save them from having to break them down for recycling. 

9. Facebook Community Groups or Marketplace

Facebook Community Groups are great for asking local people questions or for requesting items. Another benefit of asking for free boxes on a local community group is you won’t have to travel far to pick up the boxes. Simply search on Facebook for a community group in your area

If you have no luck with the community groups, why not try Facebook Marketplace? They often have free boxes available, too. 

10. Office Depot

Office Depot typically receives its first shipment at the beginning of the week. And they are overwhelmed with large cardboard boxes. By showing up and offering to take some off their hands, it’s pretty likely you’ll make their day. 

A good haul of cardboard boxes from Office Depot could have you all set for your move! 

11. McDonalds

McDonald’s boxes are extremely sturdy – especially the fry boxes. Furthermore, as they’re shipped to every location frozen and in plastic, you don’t need to worry about them making all of your belongings smell like French Fries. 

Their fry boxes are so well-loved, there is a Mcdonald’s fry box appreciation Facebook group. Many won’t consider this as an option due to the fear of cross contamination with fried food, however, this is their loss. Take advantage of this little known secret when looking for free moving boxes.

12. Your Workplace

If you work for one of the stores above or a big company, there’s a high chance they’ll be some spare moving boxes lying around. 

Have a word with your office manager and see if you can get your hands on them before they go into the recycling!

13. Reddit

Reddit is a great place on the internet to get a timely answer to any question you may have. Type in your local city or state and find and follow the subreddit with the highest number of followers. 

Once you’re in the subreddit just search for “free moving boxes” or ask the rest of the sub thread if they know or have moving boxes you can use. 

14. Rite-aid

If you call Rite-aid on Saturdays, you’ll be able to secure some free moving boxes. This is because they receive deliveries on Friday night. 

Just make sure you call them early on Saturday. It’s less busy and you’ll also be front of the line to get the boxes. 

15. Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree – or any other discount dollar store – is a good place to get cardboard boxes for moving. 

Dollar Tree receives its deliveries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and they get a ton of boxes! They will happily set some aside for you if you ask. 

16. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s are one of the other big stores where you can get boxes from. When do they get their deliveries? It depends. This can either be first thing in the morning or around 8 p.m at night. 

To be on the safe side, ring your local Trader Joe’s and ask them to set some aside for you. 

17. Apartment Complex Dumpsters

If you don’t mind rummaging through some trash, you might be surprised with what you find. 

Large apartment complex’s dumpsters are usually a goldmine for boxes. People are usually moving in and out and there’s a high chance they’ll leave their old boxes there. Just be sure to get to them before the garbage collection!

18. LetGo

LetGo is a great app to install if you’re moving. It allows you to search for free moving boxes in your area. 

Simply search “moving boxes near me”, contact the seller, and plan a time to meet. Real easy. 

19. OfferUp!

The OfferUp app connects to people in your area who are buying or selling locally. 

Similar to marketplace or LetGo, just search for “free moving boxes” and OfferUp will point you to those looking to get rid of moving boxes. 

20. PetSmart

Next time you head to PetSmart to grab some grub for your pup, ask an employee or manager if they have any free moving boxes. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the usual PetSmart delivery days, but it’s best to check before and try to do so early in the morning. 

21. Petco

If you’re more of a Petco enthusiast, the best time to get Petco’s free boxes is on Monday morning. 

22. Local Restaurants

Are you friendly with a local restaurant owner? Why not ask them when their delivery comes and see if they can set some of their boxes aside for you. 

23. WinCo

Another large store who may be able to help you out with free moving boxes is WinCo. The delivery times vary from location to location so call ahead and see what you can get from them. 

24. Nextdoor

An app that may come in handy for moving boxes is Nextdoor. This hyper-localized app allows you to connect with different people within your neighborhood. 

Create a free profile and begin asking around if any of your neighbors or friends have free any boxes available. 

25. Grocery Stores

Similar to liquor stores, your local grocery store is bound to have cardboard boxes in abundance. 

Have a word with a store clerk or manager and see if they can set aside some apple or banana boxes for you. 

26. Friends and Neighbors

If you don’t fancy going around your neighborhood finding stores that give cardboard boxes, you can always ask your friends or neighbors. 

If they don’t have any themselves, they may be able to get some from their work or know of someone else who does. Consider it a moving away present.

There’s no need to pay for moving boxes!

As you can see, there are many places you can get boxes for moving without having to open your wallet. 

This is one of the ways you can save money while moving. In addition to this, you may consider looking for a local storage solution that’s cheaper than a storage unit, such as Stache’s peer-to-peer storage solution, moving without a moving company, or using some of the websites listed here to find other free moving supplies. 

With a few creative solutions, you won’t be boxed in by soft costs during your move.