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Moving Boxes How Many Do I Need?

 

When moving, one of the trickiest variables to determine is the number of boxes you will need. Large quantities of boxes and bins are expensive, and difficult to store. However, they are necessities that you cannot ignore during your move.

Before your move, you will need to go to the store to buy boxes, order them online, or scour your neighborhood stores for sturdy, free boxes. You may even be able to get boxes from someone who has recently moved. No matter how you get your boxes, it is critical for you to assess how many you will need to effectively carry out your move. Think about it. Would you rather figure out how many boxes you need now, then spend one (or two) efforts gathering them all? Or would you rather make multiple trips to the store, submit more online orders, or keep showing up in the back alley of your favorite store?

Moving is one of the few times when it’s okay to have more than you need. Having too many boxes is much better than not having enough. If you order boxes in store or online, check the return policy. You may be able to return unused boxes. If your boxes were free or you do not want to return them, pass them along to a friend or neighbor, recycle them, sell or exchange them online, or donate them to a charity (e.g., one that packs foods or ships items).

Based on the square footage of your home, the number of rooms in it, and the number of people who live with you, it is possible to estimate the number of boxes you will need for your move. As you read, think about whether you are a bit of a collector or more of a minimalist. Increase or decrease your box estimate accordingly.

Visualize yourself packing and determine how many large boxes you need. As a general rule of thumb, you should pack light, bulky items (e.g., comforters and towels) in large boxes and heavy, dense items (e.g., books) in smaller boxes. The size and weight of the box is important. Someone has to carry each box. A large box full of books is unwieldy and very difficult to carry.

Studio Apartments

Depending on the location, studios can vary widely in size. However, in the United States, studio apartments are generally between 500 and 600 square feet.

If you live in a studio apartment, purchase between 10 and 20 boxes in preparation for your move. Err on the side of caution and purchase 20 small to medium boxes as opposed to 10 large ones. At the end of the packing process, you don’t want to end up packing fragile items with heavy, bulky items because you only have one large box left to put things in.

Keep in mind that the number of boxes you need increases as the size of your household increases. While 20 small boxes may suffice for a single person in a studio, for two people, you may need between 25 and 35 boxes.

If using a combination of large, medium, and small boxes, plan your packing. Do you have enough items for all those large boxes? Or will smaller boxes suffice?

1 to 2 Bedrooms

As with studios, the number of boxes needed for a 1- to 2-bedroom home will depend on the number of people in the household.

  • For one adult living in a 1-bedroom home, 35 to 40 small to medium boxes and 1 to 2 large boxes should suffice.
  • Two people living in a 2-bedroom home will need between 50 and 60 small to medium boxes and 2 to 4 large boxes.
  • Two adults and 1 child will need an estimated 70 small to medium boxes and 4 to 6 large boxes.
  • Two adults with 2 children will need around 75 small to medium boxes and 4 to 8 large boxes.

Using larger boxes may decrease the number of boxes you will need. For example, for a two-person household, consider using 6 large boxes, 30 medium boxes, and 15 small boxes. That’s a total of 51 boxes.

As mentioned above, be mindful of the weight of the boxes. It is preferable to have 3 small boxes that can be easily moved as opposed to one large box that is impossible to lift.

3+ Bedrooms

One variable to consider is how modestly you live. Your lifestyle will greatly affect the number of boxes you need. Households with 3 or more bedrooms typically house a lot of belongings. Three or more people usually live in the home, and each have their own personal possessions.

For a large 3-bedroom home with multiple occupants, 80 to 100 small to medium boxes and 4 to 8 large boxes are needed. For each additional adult, add 10 to 20 boxes. For each additional child, add 5 to 10 boxes.

Do you have an attic, basement, shed, or garage? Factor in how many boxes you need to pack the items in these areas. The more stuff you have, the more boxes you will need.

General Estimates by Room Type

 

In addition to the size of the home, the type of room you are packing offers some insight into how many boxes you need. Below are some general estimates of the number of boxes you will need for each room.

As always, be mindful of how much stuff you have. More stuff equals more boxes.

Estimated Number of Boxes Needed Per Room

Room

Small

Medium

Large

Extra Large

Wardrobe

Dish

Total

Bedroom

(Adult)

7

6

4

1

4

--

22

Bedroom

(Child Over 12)

6

5

3

1

3

--

18

Bedroom

(Child Under 12)

4

5

3

1

2

--

15

Bathroom

2

2

2

--

--

--

6

Kitchen

4

6

3

--

--

5

18

Dining Room

2

2

1

--

--

3

8

Living Room

5

5

3

--

--

2

15

Office

8

3

1

--

--

1

13

Box Sizes

Small box – 1.5 cubic feet

Medium box – 3 cubic feet

Large box – 4.5 cubic feet

Extra large box – 6 cubic feet

Wardrobe box – 10 cubic feet

Dish box – 1.85 to 5 cubic feet

Adult Bedrooms

Adult bedrooms are typically master bedrooms or the largest bedrooms in the home. Larger rooms tend to house more items and larger objects. As a result, each adult should allot several small, medium, and large boxes for moving. Pack small items such as jewelry and accessories in small boxes. In medium boxes, pack electronics, clothes, and shoes. In large and extra large boxes, pack bulky items such as comforters, pillows, and linens. Hang clothes in wardrobe boxes. In addition to boxes, use suitcases, duffle bags, and backpacks to pack your items.

Children’s Bedrooms (Under 12)

Children under 12 have a surprisingly long list of inventory. Pack large items (e.g., large toys, playsets, and blankets) in large and extra large boxes. Use medium boxes for clothes and medium sized toys. Reserve small boxes for small plush toys, miniature cars, small building blocks, and collector sets.

For items that are part of a set (e.g., puzzles and toy sets), pack the sets in individual small boxes; then, place the small boxes inside a larger box. “Double boxing” will help you keep the sets together while reducing the number of individual boxes that have to be loaded onto the moving truck.

For children between the ages of 6 and 12, use wardrobe boxes to hang shirts, sweaters, and other large clothing items.

Children’s Bedrooms (Over 12)

Like their younger counterparts, children over 12 have a large inventory of items. While their need for boxes may be lesser than adults’, large boxes are needed to pack large electronics (e.g., televisions and computers), large toys, and sports equipment. Use medium and large boxes for linens, curtains, and art supplies. Pack comforters and blankets in extra large boxes. Pack gaming systems in sturdy small and medium sized boxes. Pack personal items and clothes in wardrobe boxes.

Bathrooms

Compared to the rest of the home, bathrooms are relatively empty. For each bathroom in your home, use 2 small, 2 medium, and 2 large boxes. The large boxes are for towels, linens, and bathmats. Pack toiletries, bottles, cleaning supplies, soap dishes, and small bathroom accessories in the small and medium boxes. Tightly secure all lids and caps and tape them closed. As added protection against leaks, put liquids in plastic bags or zip bags. If there is a leak, the bags will protect your other items from damage.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens and dining rooms demand a little more diversity in terms of types of boxes. There are large items (e.g., appliances) and small items (e.g., silverware). In large and medium boxes, pack pots, pans, and appliances such as microwaves, blenders, and toaster ovens. Use medium boxes for dishware, linens, and cooking equipment. Pack forks, knives, linen napkins, and dining accessories in small boxes.

For breakables such as china, dishes, crystal, and glassware, use dish boxes. Dish boxes are double-walled extra strength boxes with dividers or partitions. Dish boxes come in a variety of sizes, and are designed to protect dishes and glassware.

Living Rooms and Offices

Similar to the kitchen and dining room, you will need a variety of boxes to pack your living room and office. Pack books, lamps, figurines, small decorations, and small portraits in small and medium boxes. Use picture boxes (also called mirror boxes) for mirrors, paintings, artwork, large portraits, and framed posters. Carefully pack your flat screen television in a TV box. Pack electronics in small and medium boxes.

If you have a large number of files, pack your files in document storage boxes. Document boxes can be used with or without hanging file folders, and they will ensure your files stay organized during your move.

When in Doubt, Ask for Help

For additional guidance on your moving box needs, contact a moving company and ask a moving professional for help. A professional mover will do a survey of your home and provide you with a written estimate of the number and types of boxes you will need. The estimate is called an inventory, or cube sheet. The inventory will list each room, items in the rooms, number and types of boxes needed, and an estimated weight of the items. The inventory is free. It is part of the process of providing a moving quote.

If a company refuses to conduct an inventory, or refuses to give you a cost estimate, contact another company. A professional mover will listen to you and answer your questions. A professional mover will also provide you with an inventory sheet and a price quote, because it is standard practice in the moving industry.

Whether you are a minimalist or a collector, I wish you the best of luck with your move.

Still have questions? Check out the Order Your Life Moving Checklist for a detailed moving timeline and guide.

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