How Many Moving Boxes Do I Need When Moving Across the Country

September 18, 2023Moving Tips
Kate Holland

A true grunge and rock music fan born in Seattle, Kate has moved across the country and started writing about her experience.

If you’re about to embark on the exciting yet daunting journey of moving across the country, you’re probably asking yourself the golden question: “How many moving boxes do I need?” The answer, of course, depends on several factors.

Relocating across the country requires thorough planning. Estimating the number of boxes needed should be based on the size of the home and how much you declutter before you start to pack. Sourcing them is the next step, and you can either buy new ones or gather previously used ones. In the end, you can skip all the hassle and hire movers that also handle shipping cars in the USA, so you can rest easy while the professionals handle your relocation.

How Many Moving Boxes Do I Need? Start by Assessing Your Belongings

Before we jump into the number crunching, it’s crucial to start with the basics – assessing belongings. One cannot answer the question, “How many boxes to move a home?” without first having a good understanding of what needs to be packed and what not.

The importance of this step cannot be overstated. By taking time to evaluate and categorize belongings, you can avoid overestimating or underestimating the number of containers required, saving both time and money. This process will also help you identify items that may need special handling, packing materials, or boxes of specific dimensions.

Start by creating categories based on room, size, or item type – for example, kitchen items, bedroom items, small appliances, large pieces of furniture, delicate items, and so on. Remember, the contents of a three-bedroom home won’t fit into the same number of cardboards as a studio apartment. Remember to consider the weight of items as well. Books, for example, are heavy, and packing too many into one box can make it unwieldy and difficult to move. It might be better to use more containers for such items, filling each only partway.


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Declutter and Downsize to Reduce the Number of Items to Be Packed

Relocating to a new state can be a tiresome task, particularly when it comes to packing. One effective way to manage this is to declutter and downsize your belongings, reducing the number of items that need to be packed.

When sorting through your belongings, take a hard look at what you truly need. You might be surprised to find that there are many things you can live without. Why pack, transport, and unpack items that you no longer use or need? Every item you get rid of is one less item to pack, reducing the number of boxes, too.

The Benefits of Decluttering

There are numerous benefits to this approach. Firstly, you’ll save on materials and reduce the physical effort needed to pack, relocate, and unpack. Secondly, if you’re hiring professional movers, less stuff could translate into reduced moving costs, as many companies charge based on weight or number of items. You can throw away unusable things, or the items movers won’t move, sell some things online or on a garage sale, or donate to Goodwill or some similar organization. The following video offers an interesting strategy for decluttering.

YouTube video

Estimate the Number of Boxes

Now that you’ve categorized and decluttered the belongings, it’s time to dive into estimating how many containers you’ll need. This is a crucial step in the relocation process and will significantly influence the moving budget and plan. Please keep in mind that these are estimates, and the actual number can vary depending on your lifestyle, the amount of clutter you have, and how tightly you pack.

Studio or One-Bedroom Apartment

So, how many boxes for a 1-bedroom apartment should you prepare? Typically, for a moderately furnished studio or one-bedroom apartment, you may require between 15 to 20 medium-sized ones for general items. These are perfect for kitchenware, books, and miscellaneous items.

For larger items like linens, clothing, and bedding, about 5 to 10 large ones should suffice. For delicate or valuable items like dishes and glassware, around five containers are recommended. Therefore, in total, you may need around 25 to 35 boxes for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. However, consider having a few extras on hand, just in case.

Two-Bedroom Apartment or Small House

How many boxes will I need to move a 2-bedroom apartment or a small house? The number naturally increases with the size of the living space. Generally, for a moderately furnished two-bedroom apartment or small house, around 30 to 40 medium boxes would be needed for general items.

For larger items, you may require about 10 to 15 large pieces. For fragile items, around 5 to 10 dish-packs are suggested. In total, a two-bedroom apartment or small house might need around 45 to 65 boxes. As always, having some extras at your disposal is a smart move.

Three-Bedroom House or Larger

If you’re moving from a three-bedroom house or larger, the number increases even more. Typically, you’ll require around 50 to 60 medium-sized ones for general items, 20 to 25 large ones for larger items, and around 10 to 15 dish-packs for delicate items. So, for a three-bedroom house or larger, you’ll likely need somewhere between 80 to 100 containers. Again, it’s always wise to have a few extras for those last-minute packing needs.

Remember, these are just estimates, and the actual number you need may vary. For a more accurate estimation, consider hiring a relocation consultant or using online calculators. These tools can give you a better idea based on specific factors like the number of people in your home, your lifestyle, and how long you’ve lived in your current home.

Calculate Box Quantity

Calculating the approximate number of boxes you’ll need for relocation isn’t a perfect science, but there are several steps you can follow to get a good estimate. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • A simple way to start the calculation is by determining the average number typically needed per room. As a general guideline, a small to medium-sized room (for example, a bathroom or a small bedroom) might require around 3-5 medium ones, 2-3 large ones, and 1-2 extra-large ones. A larger room or a room with many items (such as the kitchen or master bedroom) might require more.
  • Next, count the rooms in the home and multiply this by the average number of cardboards needed per room. Don’t forget to consider spaces like the garage, attic, or basement if they contain items to be moved.
  • Several additional factors might affect how many boxes you’ll need. For instance, if you’ve lived in a current home for many years, you may have accumulated more items than someone who has lived in their home for only a year or two.
  • Finally, add in a few extras for contingency. Even with careful planning, there are always unexpected items that pop up at the last minute. Having a few extras on hand will ensure you’re prepared for these surprises. A safe estimate is to add about 10% more to the total.

Remember, this is just a guide to help you estimate. The actual number may vary, but this should give you a starting point for preparations. Planning ahead and being prepared is the key to a successful move.

person lying on brown cardboard boxes
The number depends on various factors

Obtaining Moving Boxes

Once you’ve estimated how many you’ll need, the next step is to obtain them. There are several things to consider and a few options available when acquiring crates and protective cardboard, each with its benefits and drawbacks.

Purchasing New Ones From Stores or Online Retailers

Purchasing new boxes is a straightforward and convenient option. You can find them in various sizes at home improvement stores or online retailers. The benefit of purchasing is that they’re sturdy, clean, and can be bought in specific dimensions to suit your needs. However, this option can be costly, particularly if you’re relocating a large house into an apartment or have many items to pack.

Seeking Free or Discounted Boxes from Local Stores, Friends, or Social Media Groups

If you’re relocating on a tight budget, you might want to consider sourcing free or discounted cardboards. Local businesses, especially retail stores and grocery stores, often have a surplus that they’re happy to give away. Just be sure to ask for their box delivery schedule, as they may break down boxes quickly.

You can also check with friends or neighbors who have recently moved or post an inquiry in local social media groups or online classifieds. Always inspect these containers for sturdiness and cleanliness – remember, not all boxes are suitable for moving to a new state, especially if they’re damp, torn, or have been used for food storage.

A pile of boxes ready for door-to-door auto transport
Wherever you gather supplies from, make sure you obtain them on time

If You Want to Avoid All the Trouble of Getting Boxes, Hire Movers to Do the Heavy Lifting

Packing up the entire home can be a massive undertaking, and for many people, the task can be too much to handle on top of all the other stresses that come with moving. If the idea of sourcing, buying, or renting boxes, then packing and labeling everything correctly feels overwhelming, there’s an alternative option that could make the move a lot easier – hiring professional movers.

Professional movers do more than just transport belongings from point A to point B. Many companies offer full-service packages that include moving services, packing up the items, convenient door-to-door auto transport, or more affordable terminal-to-terminal car shipping. They’re trained in the best ways to pack and handle items of all types, from fragile dishes to large pieces of furniture, ensuring everything gets to the new home in one piece.

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How to Pick the Right Car Shipping Company

If you do choose to hire professional movers, it’s crucial to do research and choose a reputable relocation and auto transport company. Check reviews, ask for recommendations, and ensure the company is licensed and insured. Run a USDOT number check on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website, and optionally check whether there are any complaints on Better Business Bureau. This will help you avoid potential issues and ensure your relocation is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Movers carrying sofa
Choose a reliable relocation and auto transport company and let it do all the hard work

Follow Our Guide and Your Move Will Be Smooth

Moving across the country is a significant undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a chaotic or stressful experience. By following the steps and advice provided in our guide, you’ll be well on the way to a smooth and efficient move.

From assessing your belongings and decluttering to estimating how many moving boxes you’ll need and choosing the right moving service that suits your needs, every step of the way requires careful thought and planning. Remember, preparation is key – the more time and effort you put into planning the relocation, the less room there is for unexpected hiccups.

As you navigate the intricacies of the big move, why not choose a trusted partner to ease your journey? At USA Auto Transport, we not only provide top-tier auto transport services, but we also provide you with leading professional relocation services to meet all your needs. Don’t tackle the arduous task of moving alone. Let USA Auto Transport make your cross-country move smooth, efficient, and hassle-free.

Ready to take the next step? Contact us today for a free quote and to learn more about how our comprehensive services can simplify your move. We look forward to making your move a breeze!


What if I Run Out of Boxes During the Packing Process?

You can easily acquire additional boxes from local stores, online retailers, or relocation supply stores. If time is short, consider reaching out to neighbors or local community groups to see if anyone has extra boxes you could use.

Can I Use Different Box Sizes for Different Items?

It’s recommended to use various box sizes based on the item you’re packing. Small ones are ideal for heavier items like books, while large ones can be used for lighter, bulky items like linens or lampshades.

How Should I Label and Organize the Boxes for Easy Unpacking?

For easy unpacking, label each box with its contents and the room it’s destined for in your new home. You might also consider using a color-coding system with different colored markers or tape for each room. Additionally, label boxes that contain fragile items clearly to ensure careful handling.

Are There Any Alternatives to Traditional Cardboard Boxes?

Some people opt for reusable plastic bins, which are sturdy and eco-friendly. Other options include using suitcases and duffle bags for clothing or soft items.

Should I Consider Professional Assistance for Estimating the Number of Boxes?

If you’re unsure about how many boxes you need or if the task feels too overwhelming, considering professional assistance can be a good idea. Many moving companies offer packing services and can provide an accurate estimate of the number of boxes required based on their experience and expertise.

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