By Buddy Blouin

If you’re undergoing a PCS, you’re going to need moving boxes. The backbone of any transition, all of your beloved belongings and forgotten-about trinkets will use the humble moving box as a transport to their new destination. Keeping boxes for moving is always a good idea but this can take space and frankly, you’ll never really know how many you need until it’s time to go. Nevertheless, we’re breaking down how to get boxes to make your move smooth.

Suggested read: Ship Your Car - The Ultimate Guide for PCSing With a Vehicle

Where to Get Moving Boxes When PCSing

There are many places you can secure moving boxes, but not all are equal. Depending on your needs, you can find more heavy-duty totes to secure valuables or make use of a simple cardboard box that is being repurposed for this reason. You can find moving boxes of all shapes and sizes to meet your needs at local retailers and stores. Here are a few chains likely near you:

Home Depot

Home Depot moving boxes are an affordable option. The retailer provides a one-stop-shop with a ton of accessories also available and you can even make your own custom moving kits. Available online and in-store, Home Depot has everything you’ll need for your PCS boxes.


Lowes moving boxes work similarly to their competitor. You have a great selection of sizes, plenty of additional accessories, and affordable prices. Also available online and in-person, you’re best bet is to choose which brand better works for your needs as accessibility and pricing may vary from location to location.


Walmart moving boxes offer plenty of different options which can help if you like specific boxes for specific purposes. There are also many options available using recycled materials if you want to be green about your move.


U-Haul moving boxes come in a variety of sets depending on the size of your move to help you take some of the guesswork out. Considering you may likely need a U-Haul and the company knows a thing or two about getting items from one place to another, the team can be a valuable resource.


Amazon moving boxes are available because what isn’t available at the online retailer at this point? You have plenty of different brands to choose from including Amazon itself. This can be an attractive option for Prime members or frequent customers.

Where to Get Free Moving Boxes

While there are many cheap moving boxes available, do you know what’s even better? Free moving boxes! No matter where you are, you may have more options than you think to snag moving supplies for free.

Keep in mind that there are no guarantees in life and you may also find others are looking to make a buck with these options. Furthermore, when using the Internet, you’ll want to exercise caution before meeting up with strangers. Here are a few ways to score free boxes:

  • Online community-based sites are a great way to seek and find free boxes to move. There is Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor.com, OfferUp, and The Freecycle Network to name a few.
  • Scoring boxes could be as easy as asking a store. If you frequent a local restaurant or store often, ask if they have some extra boxes you can use. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to help you out with what would otherwise be trash. Check liquor stores, pharmacies, and restaurants.
  • Big retail stores also have lots of boxes. Even if they are a bit more corporate the people are your neighbors and many are more than happy to help a service member with a few extra pieces of cardboard.

How Much Are Moving Boxes?

While it depends on what kind of box you need and how many you need, you can expect to pay $1 to $5 for basic moving boxes. Larger boxes may reach $10 and don’t forget you may need to purchase packing paper, tape, markers, glass packing accessories, and bubble wrap.

This can add up when it’s all said and done and even kits can reach over $100. Depending on the size of your home, expect to spend $70 to $500 on packing materials. The larger your home and the more complex your needs, the more you’ll pay and vice versa.

Related read: Finding the Right Pet Transport Is a Critical Part of Your PCS

How Many Moving Boxes Do I Need?

In general, you’re going to need to think in terms of each bedroom your home has equating to 10 to 20 moving boxes. Therefore, if you have a studio apartment, you may only need 20 boxes at most, but a one-bedroom may need 20 to 40 boxes to get the job done.

There are so many variables that go into calculating moving boxes, that things can get tricky. Your best bet is to pack early to gain a better understanding of your needs and explain what you’re trying to pack when purchasing from a store. This can help everyone involved achieve an adequate amount of boxes to move efficiently.

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