Moving house always comes at an inconvenient time. It’s the week when your car decides to break down or you’ve ran out of money or suddenly agreed to more social plans than normal. But one way of making it easier is planning ahead by sourcing where to get boxes for moving house. It’s something that is often overlooked until you’re in that state of panic realising you’ve got 24 hours to pack all your stuff up but have nowhere to put them. So here’s our way of helping you out – by listing all the best places to get boxes for moving house – even last-minute options.

How many boxes do I need?

how many boxes for moving house do i need?

Apparently, the national average package requirements are about 10 large packing boxes per room, OR 15 medium boxes, OR 8 extra large boxes. This is based upon average amounts of clutter and average houses. If you’re a bit of a minimalist student who’s left most stuff at home, you might not need as many. On the other hand if you’ve brought every single item of clothing, childhood memories and all the books you’ve ever read to your dorm or student house, maybe overestimate?

What size boxes should I get?

What size boxes should I get?

It’s not just about grabbing a bunch of boxes and shoving your things in. Think about the size and shape of your items. You wouldn’t pack your grandma’s vintage lamp the same way you pack your trainers, right?

You’ll need a mix of large, medium, and small boxes. Large ones are great for lighter items (no, not for your mate who’s crashed on your sofa), while smaller boxes are perfect for those heavier items. Don’t forget other packing essentials like bubble wrap (for a bit of pop-and-protect), packing tape (not the one you used for your last art project), and markers for labelling. It’s like preparing for a camping trip, but instead of the great outdoors, you’re navigating the urban jungle.

Types of boxes for moving house

Now, let’s natter about the types of boxes you’ll need. Not all boxes are created equal – some are like the superheroes of the box world. Standard cardboard boxes are your go-to for most items. They’re like the reliable friend who’s always there for you. But then, you’ve got your wardrobe boxes – these tall, sturdy chaps are perfect for keeping your clothes crease-free and ready to wear. It’s like having a portable closet!

For your more delicate items, like that framed photo of your family or your collection of vinyl records, picture or mirror boxes are your best bet. They’re like a cosy blanket for your fragile items. And let’s not forget about those special boxes for your electronic gadgets. You don’t want your laptop doing a somersault while you’re moving.

Where to get boxes for moving house?

Stationery and hardware stores

For a reliable source of moving boxes, stationery and hardware stores like Ryman are probably your best shout. You’ll most likely be able to find exactly what you need in terms of different size boxes for moving house and different strengths. They’ll also be higher quality than some of the other options too, however they might be slightly pricier. But consider weighing up the cost of not having all your personal items strewn across the street because of a weak and cheap box that gave way mid-move?

Online retailers

Amazon boxes

Online platforms such as Amazon and eBay are convenient for purchasing moving boxes as they’ll ship to your house. You’ll be able to find a wide selection too, from individual boxes to bundles so you could even share with your other housemates. The convenience of online shopping means you can order boxes with the option for quick delivery, making it a good last-minute option to get boxes for moving house.

Local shops and supermarkets

Your local grocery stores can be a goldmine for large boxes. These places often have an abundance of boxes from shipments and are usually willing to give them away for free. It’s a good idea to visit these stores and inquire about available boxes, which can be ideal for packing non-fragile household items. BUT, just mind out for the quality of them (see our section on free boxes below).

Online community forums

freecycle second hand forum
Source: Freecycle

Online community platforms and forums like Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace are good places to find free moving boxes. These platforms allow you to connect with people in your local area who have recently moved and are looking to pass on their boxes. It’s a community-driven way to source boxes, and you never know what else you might come across while browsing.

Try your uni

Universities can sometimes be a good way of finding boxes. Especially around the end of the academic year, when they receive numerous shipments for books, supplies, and equipment, resulting in a surplus of boxes. However, you might have to get in there early as lots of students will be moving in and out of accommodation around this time too. It’s a good idea to reach out to the administrative offices or campus facilities to inquire about available boxes.

Recycling centres

recycling centres

For an eco-friendly option, visit your local recycling centre. Many centres have a section where you can pick up used boxes for free. These boxes, having served their initial purpose, are often still in good condition and suitable for moving. This option not only helps with your moving needs but also contributes to reducing waste and promoting recycling. But it might not be the most reliable option as you can’t guarantee how many/what size/how strong etc boxes there will be. It might take a couple of attempts.

Student storage companies

Storage companies often sell moving boxes as part of their services. They typically offer a range of sizes and types, from standard boxes to wardrobe boxes. And they’re typically high quality! This option is convenient as you can purchase various packing supplies in one place. Some storage facilities might also offer package deals or discounts, especially if you’re using their storage services as well.

Moving companies

Many moving companies provide more than just transportation services; they often sell moving boxes and packing supplies. These companies understand the requirements of a safe move and offer boxes designed for durability and protection. Additionally, they might have gently used boxes available at a reduced price, offering a cost-effective solution for your moving needs.

Can you get moving boxes for free?

If you’re on a tight budget, look for free moving boxes on platforms like Freecycle or local community boards. Many people give away their used moving boxes after settling into their new homes. This approach is not only the best way of getting free boxes for moving house but also environmentally friendly, as it promotes the reuse of materials. Keep an eye on social media groups, community forums in your area or Marketplace on Facebook too.

Sometimes supermarkets give them away for free too as they’ve usually got loads. But they just might not be the best quality if they’ve been thrown around a lot so double check how good they are before lugging them all home.

Where do I start packing for a house move?

packing boxes to move house

If there’s ever a daunting task, it’s packing up a house. Or unpacking. We can’t decide. It’s just stressful, time-consuming and boring. BUT there are some ways to make it a bit less stressful, a bit quicker and…well no it’s still boring (unless you sip a glass of Prosecco with a friend while doing it?). Here’s our tips on making the packing process smoother so you can get back to your social life as fast as possible.

1. Start early

Kicking off your packing a few weeks before moving out of your student accommodation can be a game-changer. It’s not just about avoiding the last-minute frenzy (which we all know will happen to the best of us), but it’s also about giving yourself the space to think and organise. By starting early, you can tackle the packing in smaller, more manageable chunks. You’ll be able to sort through your stuff methodically, ensuring you don’t forget anything important. Plus, it gives you the time to gather all the necessary packing materials – boxes for moving house, tape, bubble wrap – without any rush.

2. Declutter first

Moving house is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start, and that begins with decluttering. Before you even touch a box, sift through your belongings. Be ruthless – if you haven’t used something in a year, do you really need it? Sell, donate, or discard items that no longer serve you. This process not only lightens your load but also simplifies your packing. Fewer items mean fewer boxes, less packing time, and potentially lower moving costs. Plus, decluttering can be incredibly liberating too.

3. Use what you have

When it comes to packing, think outside the box – literally. Your home is full of potential packing containers. Suitcases, drawers, and even laundry hampers can double as boxes for clothes, bedding, and other soft items. This approach is not only economical but also environmentally friendly, reducing the need for additional packing materials. Using existing containers also makes unpacking easier, as many of your items will already be in their everyday storage solutions. Plus, it’s a great way to maximise space in the moving van.

4. Label everything

label boxes for moving house

Labelling is the unsung hero of moving. It sounds like something your parents would drill into you and you just don’t want to listen, but it’s actually a worthy tip for packing and moving house. Once you’ve got your boxes for moving house, clearly mark each box with its contents and the room it’s destined for. This step will save you from the frustration of rummaging through countless boxes to find your kettle or bed sheets on the first night in your new home. Consider using different coloured markers or stickers for different rooms to make the unpacking process even smoother.

5. Protect fragile items

Your fragile items will need extra care during the move. Wrap them in clothes, towels, or bubble wrap to ensure they arrive in one piece. This strategy not only protects your delicate items but also saves space by using materials you’re already moving. For extra fragile or valuable items, consider double-boxing them for added protection. Don’t forget to label these boxes as ‘fragile’ and keep them in a safe, easily accessible place during the move.

6. Pack an essentials box

An essentials box is your first night’s survival kit. Pack everything you’ll need for the first 24 hours in your new home. This box should include toiletries (especially your toothbrush), a change of clothes, basic kitchenware, chargers, medications, and some snacks. Having these essentials at hand will save you from digging through boxes after a long day of moving. Place this box last in the moving van so it’s the first thing you unload, ensuring immediate access to your necessities.

7. Don’t overpack boxes

don't overpack boxes - tips for moving house

It’s tempting to cram as much as possible into each box, but overpacking is a recipe for disaster. Heavy boxes are hard to lift, more likely to break. Keep each box at a manageable weight, especially those containing books or other heavy items. As a rule of thumb, if you struggle to lift a box, it’s too heavy. Distribute weight evenly and use smaller boxes for heavier items to make moving a bit easier.

8. Use vacuum bags for clothes

Beyond boxes for moving house, vacuum bags are a lifesaver when it comes to packing clothes and bedding. They drastically reduce the volume of these bulky items, making them easier to transport. Vacuum-sealed bags also protect your clothes from dirt, moisture, and pests during the move. This space-saving solution means you can fit more into each box or suitcase, leaving more room in the moving van for other items.

9. Take photos of electronic setups

How annoying is a bag of cables that you have to unwind and figure out which one is for which device? Before unplugging your electronics, take a moment to snap a photo of the setup. These pictures will be invaluable when it comes time to reassemble your devices in your new home. They’ll remind you which cables go where, saving you from the frustration of trying to remember how everything was connected.

10. Ask for help

Never underestimate the power of a few extra pairs of hands. Packing can be a huge task, but it’s much more manageable – and even enjoyable – with help from friends or family. Not only does it make the process faster, but it also turns packing into a social event. Make sure you offer some snacks though because it’s pretty nice of people to help you pack when they don’t have to. Plus, having someone to share the workload can make the whole experience less stressful and more fun.

If you’re moving TO uni rather than in between student accommodation, then make use of our handy university essentials packing checklist! If you’re hunting for boxes because you’re at the end of your academic journey, make sure you check out these top tips on moving out after graduation.