How many moving boxes do I need?

  • You’re moving and you’re ready to pack - awesome! But before you get started you have to answer a pretty tricky question - “how many boxes do I need?” This post is a little essay on one of the most common questions around moving. Firstly, we have to say that it’s really, really hard to know how much stuff you have without visiting your actual home and walking through every room with you. Estimating is more like an art than a science. And we will say that it is human nature to underestimate just how many boxes you need. The following should give you a better idea of what you need so that you only buy or rent once, rather than wasting time on multiple trips/deliveries.

    There’s no better way to estimate than to have a professional mover visit your actual home. They’re happy to do this for larger jobs, but often can’t visit the smaller ones. In either case, movers are a great resource for helping you get a custom estimate on the number of boxes - even over the phone. We’re happy to refer you to trustworthy, reliable movers (link).

    Boxes come in many sizes, but to keep it simple, we’ll talk in terms of three very common sizes:

    • LG = large (4.5cu ft),
    • MD = medium (3cu ft)
    • SM = small (1.5cu ft)

    Also, we highly recommend renting reusable boxes from FROGBOX or someone similar. This takes a lot of stress out of the move. Sturdy, stackable boxes are delivered right to your home - ready to go. They save you time and reduce the environmental impact of your move. They’re typically put together in bundles by number of bedrooms, which is also how some cardboard retailers will sell their boxes too. Bundles - great! But they aren’t one size fits all. Read on.

    We think the best way to understand is to walk through a few examples based on these three equally important factors:

    • size of home (# of bedrooms and/or sq ft)
    • number of people
    • relative amount of stuff
      • primary examples of stuff: food, clothes, kitchenware, books, sports gear, hobby materials/supplies, toys, home office,

    Generally it’s kind of linear: more space > more stuff > more boxes, but our 2nd and 3rd factors, “people” and “relative amount of stuff”, are just as important as size.

    Size of home - varies greatly. Here’s some guidelines:

    • Typical range for 400sq ft to 750sq ft
      • 2LG - 15MD - 5SM up to
      • 4LG - 25MD - 10SM
    • Typical range for 750sq ft TO 1250sq ft
      • 4SM - 20MD - 6SM up to
      • 6LG - 30MD - 15SM
    • Typical range for 1250sq ft TO 2000sq ft
      • 4LG - 25MD - 8SM  up to
      • 8LG - 45MD - 20SM
    • Typical range for 2000sq ft TO 3500sq ft
      • 6LG - 40MD - 10SM up to
      • 12LG - 60MD - 30SM

    Number of people is just as important as the number of bedrooms. Here’s some examples:

    • One person
      • in a smallish studio/one bedroom apartment with not-too-much stuff will probably be fine with 2LG - 15MD - 5SM (TIP - don’t forget to use all your luggage to pack too!).
    • Two people
      • living in a one bedroom apartment will probably be better with 4LG - 20MD - 10SM
      • with a lot of stuff - home office, many books, sports gear - probably need 6LG - 30MD - 15SM
    • Two people and one young child
      • living modestly in a one/two/three bedroom probably need 4LG - 25MD - 5SM but may need up to 6LG - 35MD - 10SM
      • with lots of stuff - might easily need 8LG - 35MD - 20SM
    • A family of four or more
      • living modestly in a two/three bedroom apartment is probably going to need at least 6LG - 35MD - 10SM
      • living with an average amount of stuff in a three/four bedroom house will probably need 8LG - 35MD - 20SM
      • living in a four bedroom house with lots of sports gear and a home office and a vast library and an extensive kitchen will probably need 12LG - 60MD - 30SM or more

    Relative amount of stuff. This is the x-factor. Are you a minimalist or a collector? We all have different relationships to stuff. The more hobbies, activities, interests you have the more stuff you’re likely to have. Some people hold on to every birthday card they’ve ever received. Others don’t even keep the presents. Embrace your stuff and get honest. Think about your relative amount of stuff by room. Break it down:

    • Kitchen
      • simple bachelor or professional foodie? 6 to 30+ MD boxes depending
    • Bedrooms
      • add up linens, dressers and closets and under the bed stuff
    • Office/Den/Living room
      • how many books, desks, files, movies, games?
    • Bathrooms
      • at least a couple boxes each, or do you have a home salon/spa?
    • Garage/storage
      • tidy and minimalist or piled to the ceiling - stuff already in boxes? what’s loose?
    • Laundry/other
      • where is stuff hiding? do a walkthrough and open all your cupboards and closets!

    After surveying your stuff, decide which end of the stuff-spectrum you’re on, then look to the examples above in size of house and number of people to help you decide what you’ll need.

    Hopefully this helps you to better understand how many boxes you need. Got more questions or suggestions? Please send us a message or comment.

    Thanks for reading! Here’s to happy moving!

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