How many moving boxes do you need?Once you reach the important decision to pack your things by yourself – that is, without using professional packing services, then there are a number of important questions that you’ll have to answer, one by one.

And since you won’t have professional packers coming over to your home with their own quality packing materials, two such closely-related questions will be where to get free moving boxes and how many boxes you will need for your move.

Luckily, you already know where to find free moving boxes (HERE), so now the next step is to learn how many boxes you will need to pack up your home. It’s (almost) impossible to pull off a house move without using cardboard boxes of various sizes simply because those will be the containers in which your belongings will be transported to the new home – minus the furniture pieces and household appliances, of course.

And while there isn’t a proven method to help you estimate the EXACT number of moving boxes you’ll need to complete the home packing project successfully, you should still try to find out the APPROXIMATE number of cardboard boxes for your move.

Read on to discover how many boxes you will need when packing for a move.

Know what affects the number of boxes you’ll need

The first thing you need to understand when you’re preparing all the packing supplies you’ll need for the packing job is that each house move is unique. What that means, in reality, is that even though you’ll learn the approximate number of boxes that you will have to have in order to guarantee yourself a smooth packing experience, the actual number of cardboard containers that you’ll end up using will always be (much) more or (much) less than the estimated count.

It can be useful to know that the average number of moving boxes required for the completion of a residential move is 60 (SIXTY).

Now here’s the thing: if you happen to have much more cardboard containers than you’ll actually need to box up your things, then you must have lost either money (in case you bought those boxes brand-new) or time (in case you got the containers for free). On the other hand, ending up with much fewer moving boxes than necessary will mean losing extra time running to a big home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot to purchase more containers.

Have you ever wondered which factors determine the number of moving boxes needed for a move?

  • Square feet. The square footage of a home will determine to some extent how many cardboard containers are needed to complete the packing job. There are online packing calculators that refer to the actual square footage to give you an approximated number of boxes.
  • Number of rooms. Another way to calculate how many cardboard boxes will be needed during a move. Many moving box calculators use this method to give you a rough number although the square footage technique usually gives much more precise results.
  • Number of inhabitants. As a rule of thumb, more people living under one roof will mean more personal items in that home, thus the necessity of more packing supplies, including packing boxes, of course.
  • Lifestyle. This is a big factor simply because some people enjoy living a fairly minimalistic lifestyle with as few possessions as possible while others feel good when they are surrounded by lots of stuff.
  • Years spent in the home. Again, more years spent in one place should lead to a gradual yet steady accumulation of personal belongings that will need to be boxed and transported to a new place, at least most of them.

Don’t use moving boxes in bad condition

If you’ve decided to use second-hand boxes with the purpose of reducing the packing costs, then you must keep in mind that you shouldn’t accept all free moving boxes simply because you’ve managed to get them for free. Cardboard boxes in poor condition could lead to a number of issues on Moving day, potentially causing much more damage than you can imagine.

How many moving boxes per room?

Always use cardboard boxes in good condition.

Don’t get greedy when it comes to acquiring free cardboard boxes and accept only the containers that are

  • STRONG. The boxes should look and feel sturdy, without any visible signs of damage or weakened areas – no holes, no rips, no wet spots.
  • CLEAN. All cartons you plan to use for transporting your things need to be perfectly clean as well. Cardboard boxes are widely used so you can’t really be sure what was inside them before you picked them up. Infestation is a big issue, so if you suspect that some of the boxes may not be as clean as you need them to be, don’t take them at all.
  • DRY. Make sure the boxes you’ll be using are 100% dry. Look for signs of water damage or mold growth, and again – if you have doubts, don’t take any risks.

How to label moving boxes like a pro

Types of boxes will you need when moving

It’s important to understand what types and sizes of boxes there are available before you can learn the approximate number of boxes that you need to prepare prior to packing up your home.

Simply put, there are standard moving boxes (sub-divided into small, medium, large, and extra-large) and special packing containers that are designed to hold specific household items: wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes, dish packs for kitchen plates and glassware, book boxes, mirror and picture boxes, corrugated wine shippers, TV moving boxes, lamp boxes, etc.

Here’s more information about the standard cardboard boxes you’ll certainly need during the packing process:

  • Small moving box. Dimensions: 18” x 18” x 16”. Capacity: 1.5 cubic feet. Price: approx. $1 per box.
  • Medium moving box. Dimensions: 16” x 12” x 12”. Capacity: 3.0 cubic feet. Price: approx. $1.50 per box.
  • Large moving box. Dimensions: 18” x 18” x 24”. Capacity: 4.5 cubic feet. Price: approx. $2 per box.
  • Extra-large moving box. Dimensions: 24” x 18” x 24”. Capacity: 6.0 cubic feet. Price: approx. $2.50 per box.

Here’s more information about the specialty cardboard boxes you may need during the packing process:

  • Wardrobe boxes. Those tall boxes for hanging clothes come in 3 sizes: small (24″ x 24″ x 34″; 11.3 cu/ft.; approx. price: $11), medium (18″ x 18″ x 46″; 8.6 cu/ft.; approx. price: $12), and large (24″ x 24″ x 48″; 16 cu/ft.; approx. price: $14);
  • Dish barrel boxes. Those double-walled cardboard boxes are ideal for holding extra fragile kitchen items – dishes, glasses, and so on. The size of a dish pack is 18″ x 18″ x 28″, with a capacity of 5.25 cu/ft. and an approximate price of $6.
  • Book boxes. Suitable for transporting heavy books. The size of a book box is 12? x 12? x 12?, with a capacity of 1.0 cu/ft. and an approximate price of $1.25.
  • Mirror and picture boxes. Ideal for transporting mirrors and framed artwork such as photos and paintings. Those boxes come in 3 sizes: standard (37″ x 4″ x 27″; 2.3 cu/ft.; approx. price: $5), large (48″ x 4″ x 32″; 3.9 cu/ft.; approx. price: $7), and a 4-piece box (up to 40? x 60? x 3-1/2”; approx. price: $8).
  • Corrugated wine shippers. Ideal for transporting expensive wine bottles, those strong cardboard boxes come with special inserts from durable Kraft paper. Available in 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12 bottle carrying sizes, approximate price from $7 to $10 per box.
  • TV moving boxes. Specifically designed for protecting TVs when moving from one home to another. Those specialized boxes come in 2 sizes: medium (for TVs up to 40”, approx. price: $14) and large (for TVs up to 40”, approx. price: $20).
  • Lamp boxes. Designed to keep tall or oddly-shaped items (lamps, vases, golf clubs, etc.) safe during a move. The size of a lamp box is 12″ x 12″ x 40″, with a capacity of 3.33 cu/ft. and an approximate price of $5.

What to do with boxes after a move

How many boxes do you need for a move?

How many moving boxes to get?

Wardrobe boxes are ideal for transporting your expensive designer clothes.

Knowing the approximate number of moving boxes you’ll need to have before starting to pack up your things will set your packing expenses accordingly and prepare the cardboard containers in advance so that you don’t have to interrupt the packing process later on.

As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to get more boxes than what the preliminary calculations are telling you.

Number of boxes by rooms

  • Studio apartment. How many boxes do you need when moving out of a studio apartment? 16 medium boxes, 14 large boxes, 8 extra-large boxes, 4 wardrobe boxes.
  • 1-bedroom apartment. How many boxes do you need when moving out of a 1-bedroom apartment? 21 medium boxes, 17 large boxes, 9 extra-large boxes, 4 wardrobe boxes.
  • 2-bedroom apartment. How many boxes do you need when moving out of a 2-bedroom apartment? 31 medium boxes, 23 large boxes, 11 extra-large boxes, 5 wardrobe boxes.
  • 3-bedroom house. How many boxes do you need when moving out of a 3-bedroom house? 46 medium boxes, 32 large boxes, 14 extra-large boxes, 5 wardrobe boxes.

Number of boxes by square footage

  • Less than 700 sq.ft. 15 small boxes, 12 medium boxes, 6 large boxes, 4 extra-large boxes.
  • 700 sq.ft – 900 sq.ft. 18 small boxes, 16 medium boxes, 8 large boxes, 5 extra-large boxes.
  • 900 sq.ft – 1,200 sq.ft. 24 small boxes, 23 medium boxes, 12 large boxes, 7 extra-large boxes.
  • 1,200 sq.ft – 1,600 sq.ft. 33 small boxes, 32 medium boxes, 17 large boxes, 11 extra-large boxes.
  • 1,600 sq.ft – 1,800 sq.ft. 38 small boxes, 36 medium boxes, 21 large boxes, 13 extra-large boxes.
  • 1,800 sq.ft – 2,200 sq.ft. 43 small boxes, 42 medium boxes, 27 large boxes, 16 extra-large boxes.

Packing for a move all by yourself can be anywhere from a moderate challenge to a serious one depending on how much time you have until the move-out date, how many items you’ve decided to take with you, how many specialty items you’re moving, and how much packing experience you have.

And yes, having the right types and number of moving boxes and other packing supplies can make a big difference but nothing comes close to hiring professional packers with many years of experience who’ll not only come over with their own packing materials but will also get the job done much faster and safer than you can.

Get a free quote to learn how much the extra service of packing will cost you.