How Many Moving Boxes Do I Need?

published Jun 22, 2022
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Cardboard boxes on the floor in new home
Credit: Getty Images | Westend61

I remember the first time I ever hired professional movers. I was psyched to be able to sit back and let them do all the hard work after I’d spent weeks packing. But being me, I procrastinated and hadn’t packed a single thing by the time I looked for a company to hire. So it caught me completely off-guard when they wanted to know how many moving boxes I had. I hadn’t even packed yet — how was I supposed to know these things?!

The amount of moving boxes you’ll have factors heavily into any quote a moving company will give you. So in order to save you from my procrastination-induced panic, here’s a guide to knowing what you’ll need, with advice from the professionals.

What types of boxes will you use?

The types of boxes you’re going to need really depends on what you already have to use and what kind of stuff you need to move. Before you do anything, declutter and get rid of everything that’s not moving with you. Then, “look around your home to see what you already have to pack in, like suitcases, canvas bags, and more,” says Jodi Farbish, Common’s Chief Move-In Officer. “This will help save the numbers of boxes you need.”

For breakables and things that could be water damaged, consumer trends expert at Opendoor Beatrice de Jong suggests using plastic bins instead of boxes. “I find that plastic bins get the most reuse, especially if you have kids that are constantly growing out of clothes, or bringing home keepsake crafts from school you want to save,” she says.

You can also get special boxes for your television, your clothes, and your picture frames, which will overall reduce the amount of boxes you need, because they have specialty uses. Try not to get any boxes from the moving company. They can bring them on moving day, but it’ll be more expensive and you’ll be left scrambling at the last minute to pack things that you really should already have boxed up.

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

Is there a secret formula movers use to determine the amount of boxes?

As you probably expected, there’s not.

“Unfortunately, there is no magic formula, and sometimes movers need to actually see your home to get a proper idea,” de Jong says. Most reputable moving companies will want to do a walkthrough of your property first, so they may be able to estimate based on their own experience. But overall, there’s no real way to know for sure.

So how do you know how many boxes to use?

See if you can make an estimate by looking around your house, and then get more than what you think you need. It’s always better to have too many and not use some than to have too little and be scrambling at the last minute. If you really need a guide, de Jong suggests budgeting for 10 boxes per room, at least to start. “Even if they aren’t all used in one room, they will get used eventually,” she says.