All Over Movers' Moving Blog

Moving Boxes 101

Posted on December 11th, 2014

Moving boxes can be confusing. There are so many options, and it’s hard to determine what’s right for your own moving needs. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about moving boxes.

Where to Buy Them

Moving boxes are available in a variety of places. Websites such as Amazon sell them online, as do U-Haul and Budget Truck Rental. You can buy them in-store at supply office supply stores such as Staples, or at hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. Many moving companies also sell boxes, or offer packages that include moving supplies along with the other services you are buying.

Many online sources offer these boxes at prices that are cheaper than retail stores, and offer free shipping if your order is large enough. However, buying in person from a retail store allows you to go back and get more boxes if you didn’t buy enough, or to return extra boxes if you bought too many. It’s also a good option for people who aren’t good at spatial visualization, since you can see the exact size of the box you are ordering in person. Getting moving supplies through your moving company can sometimes be more expensive than ordering online, but it is also far more convenient. And if your moving supplies are part of a package deal you’re your moving truck and/or movers, the price can still be very good. Moving companies are able to help you determine how many boxes you may need, and what sizes would be best for you. They also allow you to get everything you need in one place at one time, without hunting through a store or wading through web pages. They know what you need and will give it to you when you need it.

Cost

The cost of a box obviously depends on the size, but it also depends on how many you are buying. Buying bundles of boxes is far less expensive than buying them one by one. If you get to the end of your move and discover you need two more boxes, you may need to go buy two single boxes, but to start it is far more cost effective to buy in bulk.

Individual boxes range in price from $.50 to $7.00, depending on the size, weight, and where you’re buying it. Bundles usually end up with a per-box price of $2.00-3.00, with a 60 box bundle going for around $125.00, and a 120 box bundle going for around $230.00. These prices are averages, and of course vary depending on the sizes of the boxes, but overall bundles tend to average out to a cheaper per-box price than buying boxes individually.

How Many To Buy

Figuring out how many boxes you need can be difficult. Luckily, many places that sell moving boxes sell them in kits, which are designed for different sized homes and/or rooms. Apartment kits average 20 boxes of varying sizes, depending on the store, a 1-2 bedroom house bundle averages 60 boxes, and a 3-4 bedroom house bundle averages 120 boxes. Some stores offer kits by the room. For example, a bedroom kit would include 11 boxes, a dining room kit comes with 6 boxes, and a closet kit has 6 boxes. If you are uncertain how many boxes you need, buying through a store that offers bundles like this or through your moving company will probably end up being more cost-effective, since boxes are so much cheaper in bulk. If you are getting a better per-box price but have to keep going back to buy more boxes here and there, you probably won’t end up saving money overall.

Moving Boxes

Sizes

Moving boxes are available in a variety of sizes. The sizes that are generally available range from small (16” x 12” x 12”) to extra large (24” x 18” x 24”). What sizes you need depend on what you’re packing. Each room is going to need a different mix of box sizes. The kits and bundles described above, as well as packages from moving companies, contain the mix of sizes that is most commonly needed for the moving of various sized houses or rooms. Starting with one of these bundles and then buying more boxes based on what’s left to pack when the boxes have been used is generally a good strategy, since at that point you will have most of your house packed, and it will be far easier to determine what size box you need, as well as how many more boxes.

Box Strength

Pay attention to the strength of boxes. Retail stores carry extremely cheap lightweight boxes in bulk, and it can be tempting to save money that way, but these boxes aren’t good for everything. They are less sturdy, and should not be used for heavier or fragile items.

Moving boxes should have a certificate seal on the bottom flap, which displays the box’s strength. Most standard moving boxes are 200 lbs. test weight. The larger the box, the higher the test weight should be. Boxes will also have the weight that they are designed to handle on this seal, so make sure to check this when you’re packing them.

Wardrobe Boxes

Wardrobe boxes are tall boxes with a rod through the top, so that you can hang garments in them as you would in a closet. They are especially useful for moving items such as suits or dresses, which can’t really be folded. They come in various widths and heights, depending on what types of garments you’re packing and how many hangers you need to fit side-by-side in the box. Like all other moving boxes, they are available online, in retail stores, and through movers. They are a bit more expensive than regular moving boxes, with a tall wardrobe box going for around $14.00 in a retail store. These boxes, however, probably shouldn’t be bought in bulk, since most people only need one or two. They can hold different weights, depending on the type of bar that the box has across the top, so pay attention to the weight as you’re packing, just like with a normal moving box.

Other Box Sources

Using actual moving boxes is highly recommended. However, if you need one or two additional boxes, asking your local stores is a great way to find what you need. Liquor stores often have an abundance of cardboard boxes, and the divided boxes they use can be helpful. These boxes often have handles, too, so having one or two of them for heavier items is nice.

There are also companies that offer rental reusable moving containers, such as plastic tubs. These are nice because they are eco-friendly and you don’t have to worry about finding a place to dispose of them. They are also plastic rather than cardboard, so they are sturdier. However, since the boxes are rented, you also then have a deadline for unpacking, which you don’t have with boxes that you’ve purchased.