How Many Boxes Do I Need?

The number of moving boxes you need depends on the size of your house and how much stuff you have. Most people fall somewhere in the range of 30 to 100+ boxes of varying size.

When it comes to DIY moving, usually one of two scenarios will happen:

  1. You don’t have enough boxes and you need to go back to Home Depot for the 47th time.
  2. You have too many boxes and they end up taking tons of precious storage space after the move.

Either outcome is annoying, and frankly, there are enough annoying things about moving as it is.

Think of boxes like pizza—it’s always better to have more than less. There are worse things than having leftover pizza or leftover boxes.

What determines how many boxes I need?

How many boxes you need for moving depends on these factors:

  • Number of rooms. The easiest way to figure out how many boxes you need is to break things down room by room.
    Square footage. This is a good backup plan if the number of rooms feels misleading. After all, rooms in an apartment and rooms in a ranch are usually vastly different sizes.
  • Number of people. More people = more stuff. Multiply the number by two if you or one of your loved ones happens to be a hoarder. (No judgment here. I still even have VHS tapes—specifically, the 1977 animated Hobbit movie and The Pagemaster.)
  • Number of years spent in the home. This can contribute to the hoarding factor. The more years you’ve lived somewhere, the more stuff you’ve accumulated. That’s just life.
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Declutter your life
The less stuff you have, the fewer boxes you need. If something doesn’t spark joy when you look at it, get rid of it! Donate it, give it away—you have lots of options. (Unless it’s, like, your passport.) Thanks, Marie Kondo!

What sizes of boxes should I get?

Wherever you decide to pick up your boxes, you’ll most likely come across four different sizes:

  • Small moving box. The size averages around 16 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches with a weight limit of 60 pounds. They should cost about $1 per box. Perfect for books, movies, video games, and other small things you don’t want rattling around a big box.
  • Medium moving box. These dimensions are 18 inches by 18 inches by 16 inches with a little heavier weight limit at 65 pounds. It’ll be closer to $1.50 per box. We recommend using medium boxes for kitchenware and larger devices like video game consoles and DVD players.
  • Large moving box. This size measures around 18 inches by 18 inches by 24 inches with a weight limit around 70 pounds. These shouldn’t cost you more than $2.50 a box. Large boxes are perfect for clothes, bedding, and larger devices like stereos and desktop computers. Just make sure it doesn’t get too heavy.
  • Extra-large moving box. These guys measure around 24 inches by 18 inches by 24 inches with a 70-pound weight limit. These typically cost $3 a box or so. You can use them for larger items—or, if you’re at the end of your moving rope, you can stuff it full of random knick-knacks. Make sure there’s enough padding for potentially fragile items, of course.
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Specialty boxes
There are also some moving boxes made specifically for wardrobes, dishes, books, and mirrors and pictures. These can cost a little more, and they’re not necessary, but they can protect your items better and help you feel more organized.

If you want a ballpark estimate for how many boxes you’ll need for your place, you’ve come to the right place.

How many boxes for a studio apartment?

  • 5 small boxes
  • 10 medium boxes
  • 15 large boxes
  • 7 extra-large boxes

How many moving boxes for a 1-bedroom apartment?

  • 5 small boxes
  • 15 medium boxes
  • 18 large boxes
  • 8 extra-large boxes

How many moving boxes for a 2-bedroom apartment?

  • 10 small boxes
  • 20 medium boxes
  • 25 large boxes
  • 10 extra-large boxes

How many moving boxes for a 3-bedroom house?

  • 15 small boxes
  • 30 medium boxes
  • 32 large boxes
  • 13 extra-large boxes

How many boxes will I need for my home’s square footage?

Remember to factor square footage into these estimates as well. Your studio apartment might be as big as a 1-bedroom apartment, or it might be much smaller. Actually, while we’re on the subject . . .

Recommended boxes per square foot:

400–700 square feet

  • 8–16 small boxes
  • 10–12 medium boxes
  • 7 large boxes
  • 3 extra-large boxes

700–1,250 square feet

  • 18–22 small boxes
  • 14–20 medium boxes
  • 8–12 large boxes
  • 3–6 extra-large boxes

1,200–1,700 square feet

  • 30–35 small boxes
  • 28–32 medium boxes
  • 18–22 large boxes
  • 8–12 extra-large boxes

1,700–2,200 square feet

  • 35–42 small boxes
  • 38–45 medium boxes
  • 20–25 large boxes
  • 12–16 extra-large boxes
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Reduce, reuse, recycle
You’ll more than likely have leftover boxes when all is said and done. You can recycle your cardboard by taking the boxes to a recycling center, selling them, or just keeping them for if (or when) you need them again.

Okay, so what are my next steps?

Find the right mover
Get your stuff shipped