Here’s How Many Boxes You Actually Need When Moving

published Jan 13, 2019
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If moving is on your to-do list, figuring out how many boxes you need to get the job done shouldn’t stress you out. And, while there’s no exact science to box acquisition, the experts have a few tips you can follow to avoid either buying way too many—or, realistically, too few. Here’s what they say:

You’ll probably need more boxes than you think

“Envisioning how many boxes you need on a room-by-room basis is one of the simplest methods of figuring out how many boxes to order,” says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha, an online moving planning company.

Nimrod Sheinberg, vice president of sales at Oz Moving & Storage in New York City, says you’ll need about 15 boxes per room, but notes that number’s based on using specially-sized boxes for the items you’re filling it with (i.e. a 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-12-inch book box for books), not the standard 16-inch-by-16-inch-by-16-inch linen boxes.

“This count of boxes will seem very high to people who move, as most people grossly underestimate their belongings’ volume,” he says.

Avoid having too few boxes. “That will leave you in a real pinch on moving day and lead to you having to leave some stuff behind—or pay your movers to come back,” Carrigan says.

Additionally, it’s better to have more boxes with fewer things in them than overstuffed, heavy boxes which are hard to haul and can break mid-move.

Tip: Don’t forget that certain items such as mirrors and artwork will require “custom”-sized boxes.

If 15 seems too high, think about it this way: Sheinberg estimates that you’ll need one box for every shelf or drawer in your house. “This means a drawer dresser would take six boxes to fully pack,” he says, noting that you should assume one china box/dish barrel per shelf for kitchenware and one standard-sized linen box per drawer.

Tip: Don’t miss what’s in plain sight. “For example, while estimating how many books you have, don’t forget to factor in the books on your coffee table or bedside,” Sheinberg adds.

Another sneaky space culprit? Your closet. “People have double the number of clothes than they think they do,” says Lior Rachmany, founder and CEO of Dumbo Moving in New York City. “In addition, people also tend to forget about their winter clothes when moving in the summer (and vice versa) which can end up doubling your overall box needs.”

Tip: A wardrobe box, intended just for clothes or winter coats, will hold two feet of hanging items in each. Measure your closets before you move so you have enough wardrobe boxes come moving day.

Think all those cardboard boxes will get too pricey? Here, eight places to get boxes—free of charge, and nine other ways to save money while moving.