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How many moving boxes do I need?

Understanding how much stuff you own is key to getting the moving process right.
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How many moving boxes do I need?

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If you’ve ever moved house, you’ll know a surprising amount of maths is involved. From calculating the amount of space you’ll need in a moving van to figuring out whether your items will fit snugly into your new home, understanding how much stuff you own is key to getting the moving process right.

One of the first things you need to know before you move is how many moving boxes you’ll need. Our guide takes you through everything you need to know about securing the right boxes for your move.

The pros and cons of borrowing versus buying moving boxes

Let’s face it. Spending a lot of money on cardboard boxes can feel like a scam, even if it isn’t. But is borrowing moving boxes better than buying new ones?Stack of moving boxes packed by the movers

The pros of borrowing

Save money: Saving your hard-earned cash is an obvious upside to borrowing moving boxes. Cardboard boxes retail for around $2-$10, depending on the size and complexity of the box. Let’s say you spend an average of $5 on each box and need a dozen boxes. That’s an easy $60 you’ll need to add to the cost of your moving day.

Help the environment: Reusing existing items is always better than buying something new. There are lots of cardboard boxes out there that are free for you to use.

The cons of borrowing

Time: Unlike new cardboard boxes, it’s not as simple as driving to a store or getting them delivered to your house. You’ll need to spend time hunting down free cardboard boxes.

Deterioration: Second-hand boxes have, by nature, been used before and are weaker and less sturdy than a fresh box. There’s also never a guarantee that the boxes you’ll be picking up are clean.

Where can I get moving boxes for free?

It is possible to get free clean cardboard boxes for your next move. However, it does take a little bit of work on your end. Here are some places you can get moving boxes for free:

Facebook marketplace: Search Marketplace for free cardboard boxes. Most ‘sellers’ will ask that you pick up the boxes, so having access to a car is essential.

Retail stores: Big retailers such as Harvey Norman, The Warehouse, KMart, Bunnings and even your local supermarket have a surplus of cardboard boxes that get recycled regularly. Call your local store or stop by the information desk on your next visit. Make sure you arrange this ahead of time. Some stores throw out their cardboard regularly and won’t have any boxes they can give you at the last minute.

Recycle day: If you live or work close to a CBD, you’re probably aware that most businesses set their cardboard out on the street once a week for collection. Make a note to pick up some flattened boxes the next time you’re in town on recycling day. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Friends and family: Don’t forget to ask friends and family for help. You may have friends with moving boxes in their garage or easy access to flattened boxes at their workplace.

Community pages: If you live in an apartment complex or a suburb with a community Facebook page, contact your neighbours for help.

How many moving boxes do I need?

Moving boxes stacked outside a residential complex

How many moving boxes you need depends on how much stuff you have. A one-bedroom apartment of someone with many hobbies, knick-knacks, furniture and books may take up more packing space than a two-bedroom apartment of someone who lives more sparingly.

However, some moving companies have taken the hard work out of figuring out how many boxes you’ll need by selling moving packs. Buying a moving pack is slightly cheaper than paying for each box individually, as most moving packs also come with packing paper and tape.

Still not sure? Use our volume calculator to help you decide.

Moving boxes for a one bedroom

On average, 10 x small, 10 x medium, and 5 x large boxes are enough to move out of a one-bedroom home or apartment. We’ve broken down the cost of buying these individually below versus the cost of buying a moving pack.

Small Boxes: $10.97 ($1.97 each)

Medium Boxes: $36.80 ($3.68 each)

Large Boxes: $31.90 ($6.38 each)

Total to buy items individually: $79.67

One-bedroom moving Pack: $75 (includes the same number of boxes with the addition of packing tape and paper).

Moving boxes for a two-bedroom

On average, 10 x small, 10 x medium, and 10 x large boxes are enough to move out of a two-bedroom home. We’ve broken down the cost of buying these individually below versus the cost of buying a moving pack.

Small Boxes: $10.97 ($1.97 each)

Medium Boxes: $36.80 ($3.68 each)

Large Boxes: $63.80 ($6.38 each)

Total to buy items individually: $111.57

Two-bedroom moving Pack: $110 (includes the same number of boxes with the addition of two realms of packing tape and paper).

Moving boxes for a three-bedroom

On average, 15 x small, 15 x medium, and 10 x large boxes are enough to move out of a three-bedroom home. We’ve broken down the cost of buying these individually below versus the cost of buying a moving pack.

Small Boxes: $29.55 ($1.97 each)

Medium Boxes: $55.20 ($3.68 each)

Large Boxes: $63.80 ($6.38 each)

Total to buy items individually: $148.55

Three-bedroom moving Pack: $145 (includes the same number of boxes with the addition of three realms of packing tape and paper).

Moving boxes for a four-bedroom

On average, 20 x small, 20 x medium, and 15 x large boxes are enough to move out of a three-bedroom home. We’ve broken down the cost of buying these individually below versus the cost of buying a moving pack.

Small Boxes: $39.40 ($1.97 each)

Medium Boxes: $73.60 ($3.68 each)

Large Boxes: $95.70 ($6.38 each)

Total to buy items individually: $208.70

Three-bedroom moving Pack: $200 (includes the same number of boxes with the addition of four realms of packing tape and paper).

How to save money on moving boxes

A woman packing a moving box and closing it with a packaging tape

One of the best ways to save money on moving boxes is to get a mixture of new and used boxes. Buying new boxes to house delicate, heavy or speciality items is great. You can also use existing plastic tubs, suitcases and other storage items with secure lids to help you during the move.

If you are using professional movers, pack your items using as many sturdy boxes or containers as possible. This will make your movers' job easier and ensure your items are secure and easier to stack in the back of the moving van.

While spending money on moving boxes can feel like a waste of money, don’t throw them away after your move. Instead, store them in your garage or cupboard until the next move.

Are speciality moving boxes worth buying

Speciality moving boxes are worth buying because they protect your items better than a regular cardboard box can. Here are some speciality boxes and inserts that are worth buying for your move:

​​Wine Bottle Carton Divider Insert

Keep wine bottles or glasses protected during your move with a divider insert.

Port-a-Robe Box

Protect your suits, dresses or entire wardrobe with a standing box suitable for hanging clothing.

Flat Linen Packing Box

Pack blankets, duvets and any clothing that needs special care in a flat linen box.

Picture / Mirror Carton

Protect your artwork, mirrors or framed paintings with a speciality box.

Slider Box

Slider boxes are a great way to protect large, fragile items like framed art.

TV Carton

TV boxes are ideal for protecting your flat-screen television.

Adjustable Slider TV Box

Adjustable TV boxes can be expanded better to fit the size of your television or artwork.

Need help with your move? Use Wise Move to find New Zealand’s most trusted affordable movers nationwide.

Moving companies services

Budget-friendly moving services. Trusted by thousands of customers. Door-to-Door delivery. Same Day service. Fixed Prices.
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