If you have a move coming up, you know how difficult it can be to keep up with your to-do list. One thing that shouldn’t stress you out, however, is compiling moving boxes, especially in the city of Chicago. As long as you keep your eyes open, it’s easy to find moving boxes in various sizes that are clean and in great condition. Plus, it’s an easy way to be environmentally friendly! Once you’ve collected enough boxes, make sure to seek packing services for a move from a friendly and reliable team such as Alliance Moving & Storage. 

Here are tips for finding free boxes.

free boxes

#1. The Freecycle

Did you know that there’s a specific network that’s dedicated to giving and getting free items? The Freecycle Network is a grassroots and nonprofit organization that makes it easy to connect with those in the area that might be giving away free items. You can think of this platform in a similar way to Craigslist; all you have to do is create an account and start searching for items in your area. They even have a search box at the top that makes it simple to locate moving boxes, or you can also create a post to let people know that you’re in need.

#2. Facebook Marketplace

Another place to look for free boxes ahead of your move is Facebook Marketplace. As long as you have a Facebook account, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Marketplace section of the platform. More and more people are relying on Marketplace to get rid of their unwanted items, and you can often find a slew of packing boxes for free. People are constantly moving in and around Chicago which makes it even easier to find boxes on Marketplace. Simply search for “moving boxes” in the search bar and coordinate a date and time to meet. 

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#3. Craigslist

Don’t forget to search your local Craigslist for free packing boxes in your area. If you haven’t used Craigslist before, know that they have a “free” section where people often turn to get rid of their moving boxes. In the case that you have your boxes to get rid of on the other end of your move, you can also consider Craigslist to pay it forward and give them to someone else who may be looking. Keep in mind that you should only opt for these free boxes if you know that they aren’t damaged or weak. 

#4. U-Haul Customer Connect

Empty boxes for moving can also be found through U-Haul. Simply visit your nearest U-Haul store to see if any customers have recently dropped off their used U-Haul moving boxes. If you don’t have any luck with this option, they also have a Custom Connect service (it’s relatively new) that you can consider. This service allows you to enter your zip code or city to search for free moving boxes in the area. One particularly positive thing about U-Haul boxes is that they’re usually high-quality as long as they haven’t been damaged.

where to get moving boxes free

#5. Local Retail Stores 

More companies want to start prioritizing recycling and being as eco-friendly as possible, so you can also consider local retail stores to look for used cardboard boxes. Consider computer and office supply stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores, shoe stores, liquor stores, food restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, or even pet stores. Boxes are used across industries and many times, they have plenty of life left in them. While you can also look for boxes in the alleyways behind these stores, as a common courtesy, we recommend calling the stores for permission to take the boxes. 

#6. Recycling Centers

When Googling “free moving boxes near me”, you might see local recycling centers pop up as a result. Many people in Chicago might turn to local recycling centers to unload their moving boxes when they’re finished, making these centers a good resource. You can either call or stop by your local recycling center to see if there is anything available for use. Even though many of the boxes will already be broken down, all you’ll need is a little bit of packing tape to restructure and reuse them.

#7. Yard Sales

As tenants move from one location to another, they might have a local yard sale to unload their moving boxes. If you see any signage for a yard sale, be sure to stop by to see if there are any free moving boxes that you can reuse. While you’re there, you might even find some small trinkets or other items that you’ll want to purchase before your move. As an added tip, we recommend stopping by garage sales near the end of the day as this is when most items have already been sold. This can increase your chances of finding empty boxes.

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#8. Office Buildings

Office buildings in Chicago get countless packages every day; why not reach out to the buildings to see if they’re willing to give you these boxes for free? As soon as they’re done unloading the items from the boxes, they likely don’t have an additional use for them. You can either call the front desk or visit the office in person to learn more about whether or not they have boxes. They may also have insight into when more shipments are coming and can let you know when to stop by to pick up boxes in the future. 

#9. Fast Food Restaurants

Before fast food chains can make their items, they must receive shipments of products in boxes. In most cases, fast food restaurants receive frozen shipments in boxes, allowing you to potentially reuse them for your move. These boxes are especially ideal as they’re strong and designed to handle heavy items over a long distance. Plus, the fact that the items are frozen means you won’t need to worry about any of the boxes being greasy or smelly. Simply call some local fast food locations near you to see what they have available.

#10. Pharmacies

Consider looking for free boxes at your local pharmacies such as CVS, and Walgreens, or even your local pharmacy. These locations are constantly getting shipments of medicine to their store that they likely won’t need to use again in the future. For example, you can call your local Walgreens before heading over there to see if they’ll be able to save you a certain number of boxes from their next shipment. As long as you give the store a heads-up, you will likely walk away with boxes for free.

free packing boxes


As you can see, you have many options to find free moving boxes in your area. Once you’ve compiled the free boxes for your upcoming move, it’s important to find a full-service moving company in Chicago that can help. At Alliance Moving and Storage, we are a family-owned and operated business that prides itself on our customer service and transparent pricing. Whether you need help with one aspect of your move or you don’t want to lift a finger, our team is here to help! To learn more about our services or to take advantage of our free quotes, please contact us today.