Where to find free packing suppliesA house move is often both stressful and expensive – a bad combination that can cause a lot of problems for you when you’re getting ready to move out soon.

Not surprisingly, one of the reasons why the home moving process is so stressful is because it’s so costly – a fact that will make things even more complicated when you’re moving on a tight budget.  After all, you don’t want to drain your entire savings account, or worse – to find out that you don’t have enough money to cover the moving expenses.

One excellent way to reduce moving costs is to get most or even all the packing supplies you’ll need without paying for them. Free packing materials? Exactly.

Add your frugal decision to pack up your things without hiring professional packers and you can really save plenty of money during your local or cross-country move.

So, where to find free packing supplies for your packing needs? Find the cost-saving answer below.

Why getting free packing materials is worth it

Before you can rejoice at the thought of obtaining packing supplies without paying for them, you should know that even free packing supplies come at a cost – your time.

Is it worth losing precious time to get your packing materials for free? Sometimes it can be really difficult to put a price tag on your time, especially when it’s the time right before a house move.

Finding free packing materials is definitely worth it when you know that you have enough time until Moving day – enough time to go looking for cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, and packing peanuts at no extra cost for you.

Also, cutting your packing expenses is especially important when you’re moving on a budget and you’ve reached the every-dollar-counts relocation stage. Here’s a quick example so that you can get a quick idea about how much money you can save from obtaining used packing supplies: the average cost of packing materials when you’re moving out of a 3-bedroom home is roughly $250.

Of course, if you can afford it, then the best way to obtain the necessary supplies for your packing needs is to purchase those protective materials brand new. This way, not only will you save valuable time from not having to go search for those boxes, plastic wrap, and paper, but you’ll also ensure that the packing materials you do buy are high-quality ones with no pre-existing damage of any kind.

Sure, you can choose to purchase all your packing materials brand new from a local office supply store, a local moving company, a local truck rental company, or online. However, it won’t make much sense to pay $200, $300 or more for something when you can get it for free – minus some time and efforts on your part, that is.

20 Simple ways to reduce moving costs

What packing materials you can get for free

It always feels nice when you somehow manage to get something for free, doesn’t it? It’s the sense of satisfaction that you didn’t end up spending your hard-earned money on something that is possible to be obtained free of charge.

In the end, it’s the million-dollar question of why pay for something when you can get it for free. And it’s this very question that can save you a good deal of money when your move is finally over.

Here’s what to look for when hunting free packing supplies so that you can have a better idea about the goals of the entire cost-saving operation.

Cardboard boxes

Free moving boxes

Take your pick.

Simply put, a house move is unthinkable without cardboard boxes of various sizes. Those containers are not only versatile, convenient and affordable, but they are practically EVERYWHERE as well.

Nevertheless, one of the difficulties when looking for free moving boxes is that you’ll need too many of those containers. Roughly speaking, you’re going to need 15 medium, 13 large, 7 extra-large, 4 wardrobe, and 3 picture boxes when moving out of a studio apartment. As you can imagine, you’ll need to at least TRIPLE those quantities of moving packing boxes when moving out of a 3-bedroom home.

As an added “bonus”, for your upcoming house move you’re going to need cardboard boxes that are 1) strong, 2) clean, 3) dry, and 4) infestation-free.

Bubble wrap

Without a doubt, bubble wrap offers an unrivaled level of protection for your fragile items when they are being transported from one home to another. In fact, it’s the air-filled bubbly plastic wrap that will ensure your breakables remain in one piece during transport.

One thing you should know when looking for free packing supplies is that free bubble wrap is usually harder to find compared to cardboard boxes. Thus said, it’s still doable and you shouldn’t have any serious problems getting your hands on the ultimate protective material as long as you know just where to look.

Packing paper

Packing paper is a must-have packing material simply because it’s used practically ALL THE TIME when packing household items for moving. White packing paper is the ideal protection for fragile items with delicate surfaces (glass, wood, leather, etc.) as it offers shock protection and it keeps dust, dirt, and other pollutants away.

Also, packing paper is great for padding and cushioning items once they are inside their corresponding moving boxes. In the best case scenario, whatever’s packed inside cardboard boxes should not be moving during transit and that’s when packing paper should be used to achieve that immobilization goal.

Important: The packing paper you do find for free must be clean because it will be touching directly all types of delicate surfaces. Getting free shipping supplies is great but it’s more important to keep your valuable items safe during the move.

Newspapers (newsprint)

The good news is that you won’t have any problems getting for free all the newsprint you’ll ever need to complete the packing job simply because today’s newspapers automatically become tomorrow’s packing materials.

Now it’s time for the bad news: newsprint should only be used as a cushioning material inside moving boxes OR as a packing material over initial layers of clean packing paper. The reason for this precaution is clear enough: the newsprint ink can easily transfer to and stain delicate surfaces, thus potentially ruining valuable household items for no good reason.

Remember that getting something for free is nice as long as you don’t endanger your own belongings in the process.

10 Delicate tips for packing fragile items when moving

Where to get free packing materials: boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, newsprint

Now it’s time to learn where to get free moving boxes for your next move – basically, you’ve got a number of good options here. But it’s not just the cardboard containers – you’ll also know in a minute where to get free bubble wrap, as well as free packing paper, including newsprint.

Source #1: People you know: friends, neighbors, co-workers

Don't pay for packing supplies

It’s good to have good friends who have good packing supplies.

Your first option happens to be the most logical one too – to ask friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else you know for that matter, if they have any packing materials left at their homes – packing supplies that they don’t need right now and don’t really plan on using in the near future.

You may be thinking that asking friends and acquaintances for free packing supplies is a long shot, but it’s not. In truth, until you ask, you can’t know for sure whether or not a person you know keeps a stockpile of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap or paper in their basement, attic or garage for future use.

And there’s no shame in asking your circle of friends if they will be willing to share some of their packing materials with you – it’s generally viewed as a small favor. Besides, some of your pals will know from personal experience how tough a house move can be, so they won’t really mind helping you out, if they can.

If you do know a person who’s recently moved house, then you can bet that they will have a number of good packing supplies to share with you. In some cases, it’s even possible that you’ll be doing them a small favor by helping them get rid of those boxes, bubble wrap, and paper after the recent move.

So, it’s definitely worth a shot, especially when you can only win in that situation.

One important question still remains though – what’s the best way to reach your friends, neighbors and work colleagues and ask them about whether or not they have any excess packing supplies.

  • Face to face. This is the best way to ask people you know about free packing supplies because it’s personal. As a rule of thumb, it’ll work best with the folks next door and the people you work with every day. Most of the times, it’s this sense of communal solidarity that should work in your favor.
  • Social networking. Your favorite social network (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can help you reach a large number of friends and acquaintances at once. You may be surprised how a single post can enable you to gather all the packing supplies you’ll need without paying for them. The power of networking!

How to get friends to help you move

Source #2: Retail stores in your town or city

Your greatest chance of scoring free packing materials – materials that you will use to pack up your things soon enough – is to do a tour around the large retail stores in your area. The thing you may not realize is that those stores get regular large shipments of the products they sell, and most of those products come pre-packed in cardboard boxes to survive the transport undamaged.

The benefits of getting packing supplies from retail stores are that

  • Where to get packing supplies for free

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find good packing materials without paying for them.

    the cardboard boxes will be of various sizes – exactly what you’re looking for;

  • some of the boxes will be lined with packing paper and bubble wrap when the products inside them have been fragile enough;
  • some of those cardboard boxes may even contain extra padding materials such as packing peanuts or thin Styrofoam sheets for additional protection of the breakable things that have been delivered to the stores.

Now, there are two ways you can approach your hunt for free packing supplies at local retail stores:

The Overt Op

Speak with the store managers and ask them openly if you can have the packing materials they don’t need. Usually, you will be told that yes, you can have them as long as you go and pick them up at a specific time frame when the store has received their shipments and its staff is about to throw away for recycling those boxes, bubble wrap, paper, and other packing materials.

Keep in mind that retail stores are supposed to recycle their surplus packaging materials so they may as well give them to you at no extra charge. In most cases, you’ll be saving them time and efforts to flatten out those cardboard boxes and take them out to the designated recycling areas, usually somewhere behind the stores.

Don’t get discouraged if you get NO for an answer at one store – though rare, it can happen for a number of reasons. And if does, then there’s the next large retail store in sight.

The Covert Op

If you’re wondering where to get the cheapest packing materials (the free ones!), then you should wonder no more – they will be waiting for you in the recycle areas behind large retail stores or commercial buildings.

Understandably, you may not be willing to go through all the trouble of speaking to store managers (it can be rather stressful) and complying with their shipment schedule (you’ve got so many other move-related tasks to do, remember?). And if that’s the case, then you should choose to just help yourself from the recycle areas of the retailers in your town or city.

There’s nothing wrong with picking up some perfectly reusable packing materials that have been thrown away in large recycling bins. Most of the times, you’ll have cardboard boxes of various sizes there, but bubble wrap and (packing) paper will often be left for recycling as well.

Here are some of the retail stores you can ask for free packing materials in your area:

  • Grocery stores (Large Supermarkets);
  • Home improvement stores (The Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.);
  • Furniture stores;
  • Home electronics stores;
  • Bookstores;
  • Dollar stores.

Where to get free newspapers for packing near you? Check your local newspaper office – they usually have tons of old papers they wouldn’t mind giving away. Also, if you have a neighbor who gets the newspaper every day, ask them to give you some old ones – they’ll surely have more newspapers to spare than you’ll need.

15 Great packing tips

 Source #3: ONLINE

Free bubble wrap

Wrapped up in bubble wrap – the perfect way to wrap up your hunt for free packing supplies.

It may sound somewhat surprising but the Internet can be a good source of free packing supplies. And here’s why: right after a move, some people look for various ways to get rid of the packing supplies they no longer need and want, so they choose to list them for free with the hope of the needy going over to their place pick them up. Their decision to give away their excess packing materials is often a direct result of insufficient room to store those supplies for future needs.

The two most popular online sources for free packing materials are:

  • Freecycle. Freecycle is a non-profit organization with one noble goal in mind – to keep still usable items out of city landfills. Every single item on their website is offered for free. So, it’s definitely worth checking if a Freecycle member in your area has decided to give away his or her packing supplies to strangers in need. With a little luck, you can get all the boxes, bubble wrap, paper, and even packing peanuts that you’ll ever need.
  • Craigslist. Not everyone knows that Craigslist has a FREE STUFF section. So, why don’t you check whether any packing supplies are offered for free in your town or city? The check won’t cost you a thing.

Always remember that choosing to look for free packing supplies will help you save on packing expenses… but it will require plenty of time you just may not have. So, if you just can’t afford to lose any precious time in hunting for free packing materials but you don’t want to spend so much money to purchase them new, one good compromise can be to hire professional packers who will come with their own professional packing materials.

The best part? The cost of the professional packing service may include the price of the movers’ packing supplies too. So, get a cost estimate from top-rated professional packers in your area to weigh up your options.

Must-read: What to expect from full-service movers