Typically, moving companies recommend that you have boxes in a variety of sizes and that you put pack lighter objects in the bigger boxes and place heavier things in the small boxes. But there's an assortment of choices in moving and storage boxes.
To narrow it down, here's a guide to the many types of boxes available and what the experts have to say about their advantages and disadvantages:
1. Cardboard boxes
Most of us are accustomed to folding, reliable cardboard boxes from our previous moves. The advantage of going the traditional route is that cardboard boxes can be bought virtually everywhere -- from Amazon to Home Depot to Sam's Club -- or even picked up for free from your local grocery or liquor store. If you underestimate how many boxes you'll need, grabbing a couple of more boxes is a short car ride to the store or a click away on the Internet.
But the downside is that they are usually sold in one-size packs and you may end up with a surplus of unused, wasted boxes. Some online moving supply companies, like directmovingboxes.com and usedcardbordboxes.com, have solved this by selling "moving kits," which include a variety of box sizes and other necessities, such as bubble wrap, packing tape and markers. The benefit of buying a package is that the supplier helps you estimate how many boxes you will need, based on the size of your place.
2. Grocery store boxes
Jill Pollack, an organizational expert, suggests collecting apple boxes, plastic milk crates, and glass or wine boxes to stow small, heavy items for the move. It's a cheap, eco-friendly way to get boxes for your move; however, it requires a little extra work on your part to get chummy with the manager of a local grocery and start accumulating a set of boxes. Restaurants and coffee shops are your best bet for finding plastic milk crates, free of charge.
3. Banker boxes
Banker boxes, the kind of boxes that usually store paper or legal files, are another way to go. They have handles for easy transport and lift-off lids, which makes the boxes easy to get in and out of. After she moved, Kristen, who authors the blog thefrugalgirl.com, says that one of the perks is recycling these types of boxes, and she uses the banker boxes from her move to store off-season children's clothes.
The standard size of a banker box is roughly a foot wide and high, by 2 feet long. That means it's convenient to pack little or heavy items, such as books, DVDs and cooking utensils, but they aren't sufficient for more massive objects, like your television, computer or other appliances.
4. Wardrobe boxes
Wardrobe boxes, the tall, slender boxes that come with hinged holes and a metal bar, are perfect for lugging clothes (hence the name), but it also works well for light, bulky belongings (pillows, comforters, sleeping bags, etc). But don't get too excited by the box's massive size. If filled to the brim with heavy objects, you or your mover will be unable to lift it and, even worse, the bottom might fall out.
5. Eco-friendly boxes
Instead of recycling old boxes, another green alternative is eco-conscious moving boxes. You can rent these storage boxes for a couple of weeks to pack and move, and then they are picked up once your move is complete. The Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company, rentagreenbox.com, produces moving boxes out of recycled plastic and rents the boxes out for two-week periods. The advantages are that the boxes are durable, come with flip lids, and can easily be stacked.
Though you are doing your part to be a responsible recycler, the downfall is that the eco-box concept can be pricey and has limited service. Prices start at around $129 for 25 boxes, and up to $299 for 100 boxes. (For comparison, a 20-pack of medium cardboard boxes runs from $35 to $45.) The packing, moving and unpacking process, Pollack further points out, cannot take longer than two weeks or else the cost goes up. And rentagreenbox.com is currently only servicing cities in Southern California.
But another firm offering a similar service, movingboxesmadegreen.com, is available for residents in Seattle, Wash. and Chicago, Ill. and a 25-box package goes for a two-week rental price of $75. A check for eco-minded storage and moving boxes in your area will turn up more results.
Finding moving boxes that fits both your needs and budget takes some preparation. It includes assessing what kind of assortment and how many boxes you will need and researching the costs. And being prepared with moving box knowledge saves time - you won't be running out at the last minute to buy more boxes and good organization helps save time during the loading and unloading process for your movers
And don't forget, after the move, compress your boxes, remove the tape, and find place to stash them, like a storage unit or an overhead closet. You will have exactly what you need for the next time move.
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