Moving is expensive—the average intrastate move costs over $1,100 and moving to a new state costs nearly $6,000 on average. There are costs you can't cut, but one area where you can save money is on moving boxes. Instead of buying moving boxes, explore these five free alternatives.
1. Dresser drawers
Whether you ultimately buy moving boxes or not, you should never move an empty dresser. Empty drawers waste valuable space in the moving truck, while filled dressers, in contrast, help to keep your load balanced. If you have empty drawers, fill them with clothing or other relatively lightweight items such as linens.
Just be careful when loading filled dressers onto your moving truck. If the dresser is too heavy to lift, use a furniture dolly to move it. Alternatively, take out the drawers, move the frame of the dresser into the truck, and then, move the drawers and place them in the dresser.
A towel, of course, looks nothing like a box, but for fragile and oversized art, it can be just that. Instead of investing in special boxes for your framed art, grab a few towels or blankets and some tape. Wrap the padding around the framed art, and secure it thoroughly using packing or duct tape.
3. Plastic Containers
Plastic containers are great for long-term storage as they last longer than cardboard boxes. If you have any old plastic containers on hand, definitely plan to use them while moving. Even if you have to buy a few plastic containers, see them as investment – unlike moving boxes which you will likely sell or give away immediately, plastic containers can be used indefinitely.
Free plastic containers can be hard but not impossible to find – in addition to plastic storage boxes that people may be willing to give away, consider using old milk crates or recycling bins. If you're not concerned about the cost of boxes but rather want to avoid cardboard moving boxes for environmental reasons, there are companies that rent out plastic, reusable boxes to people for their moves.
4. Sturdy Garbage Bags
While boxes or their near substitutes are ideal for most items, feel free to pack a few soft items in garbage bags. Obviously, you shouldn't pack books or anything heavy with sharp corners in garbage bags, but stuffed toys, clothing, pillows, blankets, linens and other soft, lightweight items work perfectly in bags.
Make sure the bags are high quality so they don't rip. When you are trying to fill your moving truck as tightly as possible, bags are the perfect solution. Unlike moving boxes, they can be molded and manipulated to fit a range of odd-shaped nooks and crannies.
5. Free Boxes
While the above four options are great and be help to lower the number of boxes you will need for your move, they likely won't provide enough space to hold everything you own. Luckily, you can still avoid buying moving boxes. You just have to be a bit creative about where you get your boxes.
There are a range of stores that are willing to give people free moving boxes. Call in advance, and be polite if they don't have any boxes. Liquor stores and bookstores often have free boxes, and as these boxes hold liquid filled glass bottles and heavy books, respectively, they are sturdy.
Another option is the grocery store or your local big box store. Keep in mind most of these stores stock their shelves in the middle of the night so if they are open 24/7 pop over after midnight to see if they're willing to share some of their boxes. If you're not a night owl, don't worry – most grocery stores stock produce throughout the day, and apple, pear and peach boxes are sturdy and relatively spacious.
For more ideas, contact local moving services.