How Many Boxes Do You Need to Move?

How Many Boxes Do You Need to Move?

Published: 16 Mar, 2022

Last Updated: 20 Jan, 2023

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At some point in your life, you’ll find yourself having to move house for one reason or another. When that time comes, you need to figure out how to get your stuff from Current House to New Digs. Since packing is the focal point of any relocation, sooner or later the issue of moving box sizes will have to come up.

The size of moving boxes notwithstanding, a question you’ll likely find yourself grappling with is, how many boxes do I need to move? And rightly so.

In truth, it’s not easy to estimate the number of moving boxes, let alone the size of moving boxes, you’ll need. There are a motley of factors that come into play when trying to establish how many moving boxes (and in what sizes) you’ll need, and this is what we shall be exploring in this article.

Good thing is, once you know how to get your moving box estimates right, the question of “how many boxes do I need to move” need not worry you again.

The only thing you’ll probably need to do is brush up on the box sizes and amount needed in relation to apartment size. In which case, you can always bookmark this page for future reference; and all tips on moving house such as, for instance, what to do before moving.


What Factors Determine the Number of Boxes You Need?

Before we venture too far into the weeds, perhaps it’s worth highlighting that the moving boxes we’re referencing in this post are the standard boxes used for moving: cardboard boxes. However, we will also give mention to specialty moving boxes on the market that you’ll probably need to pack specific items.

The worst part about getting your boxes wrong is to source them only to find out that you purchased in excess – or underestimated the number. That means money wasted and the headache of wondering how to dispose of the surplus – or wasting precious time doing unnecessary runs to the store.

If you’re looking for a general answer to the question, “How many boxes do I need to move?”, statistics show that on average, a house move requires approximately 60 cardboard boxes. Before you go out splurging on moving boxes, though, there are a couple of key factors that should inform your decision:

  • Number of rooms – it goes without saying that the more rooms there are, the more moving boxes will be needed. The bedrooms in particular are a good way to roughly gauge how many boxes for moving you’ll need. Obviously, the average number of boxes for 4 bedroom move will be considerably higher than the average number of boxes for 2 bedroom move;
  • Square footage – getting the actual measurement of your home allows you to be more specific on how many moving boxes you need to move compared to using the number of rooms to find a ballpark;
  • Number of inhabitants – it naturally follows that the more people there are in a given residence, the more belongings there will be to move;
  • Type of lifestyle – are you a hoarder? Or a minimalist who swears by the KonMari code? Somewhere in the middle perhaps? The kind of lifestyle you lead will have an influence on how many moving boxes will suffice for you;
  • Length of time you’ve resided in the home – if you’ve been hunkered down for a fair few years, chances are you’ve accumulated more items, double so if decluttering isn’t your strong point;
  • Level of purge pre-move – speaking of decluttering, the number of boxes you will need will also depend on the level of purging you’ve managed to do prior to the move. It’s possible to trim your moving bill (not just the number of boxes) and enjoy a less stressful moving experience by getting rid of surplus and unnecessary items.
  What are the Types of Specialty Boxes Available?

What Are the Types of Specialty Boxes Available?

As you grapple with the question of how many moving boxes will be sufficient to hold all your items, it’s important to keep in mind that cardboard boxes sometimes are not the best fit for some items.

As such, you may need to budget for specialty boxes, depending on what you’re taking with you. These specialty boxes include:

  • Book boxes – small but heavy items like books are best packed in book boxes. They come in a standard moving box size of 12″ x 12″ x 12″ with a 1 cubic foot capacity. These boxes are also suited for holding magazines, CDs and DVDs, and other items like wine bottles, cleaning supplies, and small appliances without worrying about the boxes swelling and coming apart;
  • Wardrobe boxes – with an elongated shape and fitted with a hanging rod inside, wardrobe boxes are the best choice for moving your hanging clothes in; so much so that you don’t even need to do the ironing again. They come in three box sizes for moving (small, medium, and large) with a capacity of between 11 and 16 cubic feet;
  • Dish barrel boxes – regular cardboard boxes can still be used to pack kitchenware and glassware, provided the padding is done right. If you can, however, consider going with double-walled dish barrel boxes for maximum protection. Also ideal for carrying delicate antiques in, these boxes come in a standard size of 18″ x 18″ x 28″ with a capacity of 5.25 cubic-feet;
  • Boxes for pictures and mirrors – ideal for packing framed items ranging from mirrors to artwork. They are available in three different sizes: standard, large, and the 4-piece box which is the largest.

Categories of Standard Moving Box Sizes

Cardboard boxes will form the bulk of your moving box supply, so it pays to have an idea of the sizes of moving boxes out there.

Typically, you can expect to find these 4 moving box sizes:

  • Small box (1.5 cubic ft.). Dimensions: 16″ x 12″ x 12″. Holds up to 10.5 lbs. Can serve the role of a book box (see above). Suitable for packing books, magazines, CDs/DVDs, 6 wine bottles, and small appliances.
  • Medium box (3.0 cubic ft.). Dimensions: 18″ x 18″ x 16″. Holds up to 21 lbs. Suitable for packing your kitchen pantry (think cans and non-perishables).
  • Large box (4.5 cubic ft.). Dimensions: 18″ x 18″ x 24″. Holds up to 31.5 lbs. Suitable for moving folded clothes and shoes.
  • X-Large box (6.0 cubic ft.). Dimensions: 24″ x 18″ x 24″. Holds up to 42 lbs. Suitable for packing unwieldy and oddly-shaped items like toys, ideally wrapped in blankets first.
  How Many Boxes Do I Need to Move Going by Square Footage?

How Many Boxes Do I Need to Move Going by Square Footage?

As we alluded to earlier, one of the best ways to estimate the number of moving boxes you’ll need to pack your house or apartment is to get the dimensions of your home as opposed to guesstimating by the number of rooms. This should give you a more accurate figure.

Unless you’re a homeowner and have the original house layout map on hand, you’ll need to get the measurements yourself to be sure. A firm measuring tape or laser measure should get the job done.

Remember that the measurement for a rectangular room is simply Length multiplied by Width. For example, a room measuring 15 feet by 10 feet will be 150 square feet in size.

Here then, are the specific number of boxes you need based on different square footage:

Less than 700 Sq. Ft

You’ll need:

  • Small boxes = 7 to 15;
  • Medium boxes = 9 to 15;
  • Large boxes = 6;
  • X-Large boxes = 3.

From 700 Sq. Ft to 1250 Sq. Ft

You’ll need:

  • Small boxes = 17 to 23;
  • Medium boxes = 15 to 22;
  • Large boxes = 7 to 11;
  • X-Large boxes = 4 to 6.

From 1200 Sq. Ft to 1700 Sq. Ft

You’ll need:

  • Small boxes = 32 to 37;
  • Medium boxes = 25 to 35;
  • Large boxes = 16 to 20;
  • X-Large boxes = 10 to 12.

From 1700 Sq. Ft to 2200 Sq. Ft

You’ll need:

  • Small boxes = 38 to 42;
  • Medium boxes = 36 to 47;
  • Large boxes = 21 to 26;
  • X-Large boxes = 13 to 15.
  How Many Boxes Do I Need to Move Depending on the Number of Rooms?

How Many Boxes Do I Need to Move Depending on the Number of Rooms?

Seeing as this is an exhaustive take on box numbers required to move house, it would be remiss to sign off without offering an alternative way to estimate the number of moving boxes you will need for your move.

After all, while some might prefer measuring the square footage of their crib, others might want to work with the number of rooms in their apartment.

If you fall under the latter category, below are the box numbers you should be looking at for your typical:

Studio apartment

  • Medium boxes = 15;
  • Large boxes = 13;
  • X-Large boxes = 7;
  • Wardrobe boxes = 4;
  • Picture boxes = 3.

1-bedroom apartment

  • Medium boxes = 20;
  • Large boxes = 16;
  • X-Large boxes = 8;
  • Wardrobe boxes = 4;
  • Picture boxes = 4.

2-bedroom apartment

  • Medium boxes = 30;
  • Large boxes = 22;
  • X-Large boxes = 10;
  • Wardrobe boxes = 4;
  • Picture boxes = 6.

3-bedroom house

  • Medium boxes = 45;
  • Large boxes = 31;
  • X-Large boxes = 13;
  • Wardrobe boxes = 4;
  • Picture boxes = 9.
  Types of Packing Supplies for Moving

Types of Packing Supplies for Moving

When planning for your move, there is a set of essential packing supplies you need in your toolkit in addition to moving boxes.

These indispensables include:

  • Paper and bubble wrap – bubble wrap and packing paper are vital supplies in every packing routine, double so if there are breakables and brittle items involved, whether that be kitchenware, vases, or antiques. Packing paper and bubble wrap shrink packaging serve as excellent padding and wrapping material for fragile household items and appliances. We suggest investing in 20 feet of bubble wrap and 3 pounds of packing paper;
  • Packing tape – it is not something you want to skimp on when sourcing your packing supplies as you’ll literally use it on every single box, taping the top and bottom of every box for that matter. We recommend the type with the dispenser, of which you need to get an extra roll for every 30 to 60 boxes. A roll typically measures 54 to 110 yards in length;
  • Markers – come in handy when labeling the contents of individual boxes and can save you unnecessary headaches of rummaging through boxes trying to dig out what from which. Get an extra marker pen just in case, and if you’re packing a large house or apartment, consider having about 3 to 4 pens on hand;
  • Labels – preferably colored labels, ideally each room with its own color code. Labels will prove a savior especially when it’s time to unload. We recommend using two labels for every box, plastered on different sides. You’ll thank us later.

So, there you have it in black and white. Moving boxes are an important part of every move. It is our hope that this guide has sufficiently managed to answer the question, “how many boxes do I need to move?”.

If you have a move in the offing and are not sure where to source good moving boxes from in NYC at a reasonable fee, we can provide them for you. We are also available to answer any questions regarding your relocation – household or commercial – anytime, with no strings attached!

Reach out to us anytime and one of our representatives will be happy to shoot the breeze on all things moving.

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