How many boxes does the average person need to move?

Moving to a new home or apartment is an exciting but often stressful experience. One of the key tasks when moving is determining how many boxes you’ll need to pack up all of your belongings. The number of boxes needed can vary greatly depending on factors like how much stuff you have and how far you’re moving. So how many boxes does the typical person need when moving?

Quick Answer

The average person moving to a new home or apartment will need around 50 medium sized boxes to pack up their belongings. This number assumes an average 3-4 bedroom home with typical furnishings and household items. Those moving longer distances, with larger homes, or with more possessions may need upwards of 100 boxes.

How Box Needs Vary

While 50 boxes is a reasonable estimate for the average move, the actual number of boxes needed by an individual can vary substantially based on several factors:

  • Size of current home – Larger homes with more rooms and space will require more boxes.
  • Number of inhabitants – Families and those living with others will need more boxes than single occupants.
  • Amount of possessions – People with more furnishings, clothing, and other items need more boxes.
  • Distance moving – Local moves may need less packing than long distance moves.
  • Type of items – Books, tools, fragile items all take more boxes.
  • Type of boxes – Box choice affects needed amounts.

Someone moving from a large 5 bedroom house packed with possessions could potentially need over 150 boxes for their move. On the other hand, someone moving from a small 1 bedroom apartment into another apartment may only need 20-30 boxes. The range is large!

Estimating Your Personal Box Needs

The best way to estimate how many boxes you’ll need for an upcoming move is to go room-by-room and tally up what you’ll need to pack. Here are some guidelines for estimating box amounts needed room-by-room:


  • 1 box per dresser
  • 1-2 boxes per nightstand
  • 3-5 boxes for closet items
  • 3-5 boxes for under bed storage


  • 1-2 boxes for linens and towels
  • 1 box for toiletries and medications

Living Spaces

  • 2-3 boxes per bookcase
  • 3-4 boxes for media items like DVDs
  • 2-3 boxes for decorative items
  • 1-2 boxes per side table
  • 1 box for electronics and cords


  • 2-3 boxes for pans, dishes, appliances
  • 2-3 boxes for food items
  • 1-2 boxes for cleaning supplies

Make a list for each room, then add up the totals to estimate your overall needs. Don’t forget garages, attics, basements, and outdoor storage areas too. It’s always better to have too many boxes than not enough!

Choosing the Right Box Type

Not all moving boxes are created equal. Choosing the right type of box for each packing need can help minimize the total number needed. Here are some popular types of moving boxes and their best uses:

Box Type Best Uses
Small – 18″ Box Light items, books, toys, decorations
Medium – 24″ Box Clothing, linens, kitchen/bath items
Large – 28″ Box Bulky Items, pots and pans, electronics
X-Large – 32″ Box Oversized items, lampshades, outdoor items
Wardrobe – 24″x24″x40″ Hanging clothing, coats, formalwear
Dishpack Fragile dishes, glasses, decor
Mirror/Art Box Framed art, mirrors, paintings
Mattress Box Mattresses, boxsprings

Choosing the right box for the contents will help utilize space efficiently while protecting your belongings.

Tips for Box Conservation

To conserve the number of boxes needed for a move, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use suitcases for clothing and linen storage when possible.
  • Utilize bins and baskets for storage under beds.
  • Pack similar item types together in the same box.
  • Pack boxes to capacity without overfilling.
  • Place light items in boxes with heavy items.
  • Wrap fragile items well so they take up less room.
  • Rent specialty boxes for mattresses, art, mirrors.

With some creativity and organization, you can likely get away with fewer boxes than estimated. But it’s still smart to have extras on hand!

Acquiring Moving Boxes

Once you’ve estimated how many boxes you need, it’s time to get your hands on them! Here are some of the most common ways to acquire moving boxes:

  • Moving supply stores – Many standalone moving supply stores sell a variety of new boxes.
  • Hardware stores – Home improvement stores like Home Depot also stock moving box options.
  • Online – Order boxes in bulk for delivery from online retailers.
  • Truck rental companies – Uhaul, Penske, and others rent boxes along with trucks.
  • Liquor stores – Ask liquor and grocery stores for used boxes.
  • Free boxes – Check Craigslist and social media for people giving boxes away.
  • Buy used – Search garage sales, thrift stores, and online ads.

For the widest selection, moving stores and online retailers are best. But you can often save money buying used boxes or getting free ones from local businesses.

Mailing Boxes vs. Moving Boxes

Regular mailing/shipping boxes from the post office or UPS store are not suitable substitutes for moving boxes. Mailing boxes have these disadvantages for moves:

  • Not sturdy enough for heavy contents.
  • No hand-holds for carrying when full.
  • Often irregular shapes and sizes.
  • Frequently used and weakened.
  • Open tops provide less protection.

While mailing boxes will do in a pinch, invest in legit moving boxes whenever possible. Your back and belongings will thank you!

Alternative Moving Container Options

If purchasing dozens of standard moving boxes seems excessive or wasteful, consider these alternative container options:

  • Laundry baskets – Great for bulky items like blankets and towels.
  • Vacuum bags – Compress clothing efficiently.
  • Backpacks – For heavy books and files.
  • Garment bags – Protect hanging clothing.
  • Trash bags – Line them for easy transport of items.
  • Pet carriers – For transporting pets and some possessions.
  • Totes – Reusable plastic totes conserve boxes.

Think multi-purpose when considering containers. But balance that with adequate protection of fragile belongings.

Renting vs. Buying Boxes

Should you buy new moving boxes or rent reusable ones? There are pros and cons to each approach:

Buying Boxes

  • Pro: Can buy exactly what you need
  • Pro: Boxes are new and sturdy
  • Con: More expensive upfront cost
  • Con: Need to break down and dispose of boxes after

Renting Boxes

  • Pro: Usually cheaper than buying new
  • Pro: Environmentally friendly
  • Con: Must return boxes after move
  • Con: Boxes may be worn or damaged

For those moving long distance or who value convenience, buying new makes sense. For local moves focused on reuse, renting reusable boxes can work.

Average Box Amounts by Room

To recap, here are the average numbers of boxes needed by room when moving:

  • Kitchen – 5-10 boxes
  • Bedrooms – 10-20 boxes each
  • Bathrooms – 3-5 boxes each
  • Living room – 10-15 boxes
  • Dining room – 5-10 boxes
  • Basement/attic – 10-20 boxes
  • Garage – 5-15 boxes
  • Outdoors – 2-5 boxes

Add up the totals for your home’s rooms to estimate your needs. Remember to have extras boxes available for last minute packing as well.

Factors That Increase Box Needs

While averages provide a starting point, there are many factors that can increase your moving box needs significantly. These include:

  • Larger than average home size
  • Multiple levels like basements and attics
  • More bedrooms than typical
  • More possessions than average
  • Living in home longer than 5 years
  • Having hobbies with equipment
  • Outdoor storage sheds or garages
  • Kids with toys and belongings
  • Packing up appliances and electronics
  • Long distance move vs. local

Assess whether any of these factors apply to your situation. The more that do, the more boxes you’ll likely require. When in doubt, err on the side of having too many boxes versus too few.

Stuffing Boxes Efficiently

Careful packing strategies can help you fit more items into fewer boxes, conserving the amount needed. Keep these tips in mind when packing boxes:

  • Pack heavier items in the bottom, lighter items on top
  • Pack boxes full without overstuffing
  • Use smaller boxes for heavy items to keep weight manageable
  • Wrap fragile items well so empty space is minimized
  • Utilize vertical space by stacking appropriately sized items
  • Alternate direction of items to fit pieces like Tetris blocks
  • Use wardrobe boxes for hanging clothing items

Taking the time to pack mindfully will reward you with more room in each box and possibly fewer boxes overall.


Estimating your moving box needs takes careful consideration of many factors. While the average move takes around 50 boxes, individual needs vary greatly based on home size, possessions owned, distance moving, and packing strategies used. The best approach is to conduct a room-by-room inventory, factor in any special circumstances, and get the appropriate box types to safely transport your belongings. With smart planning, the right number of boxes, and careful packing, your move doesn’t have to be stressful!

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