The Ultimate List of Moving Supplies for an Easy Move

Packing Supplies

Although moving can be stressful, preparing for a move sometimes seems simple. All you need are boxes and tape, right?

Wrong. A proper move involves a range of supplies all designed to make the move easier and more effective. But which supplies do you need, and which supplies can you rent instead of buying? If you feel overwhelmed by these types of questions, read below for our suggestions.

What will my moving company provide?

Many moving companies have most of the supplies you will need on the big day, but at a cost. The supplies are available to rent or purchase, but they often cost more than if you look around at other options. 

Some companies differ on the types of services they will provide, so it’s always better to ask and verify yourself rather than relying on secondhand information. Purple Heart Moving Group, for example, offers seasonal specials on free moving supplies.

How many boxes do you need?

There are several online calculators and resources that estimate how many boxes you will need. Take these with a grain of salt—every house is different, and you may need more or fewer depending how full your rooms are.

Packing basics

Boxes

Some moving companies, such as U-Haul, provide free used boxes to customers using their service. When you’re done, you can drop off your boxes so that others can also take advantage of them. As another option, people on Freecycle often list moving boxes when they’re done with them.

Cushioning

Newspaper is both a frugal and a practical way to wrap your sturdy items. If you regularly get the paper, save it for a few weeks so you don’t have to run out to buy the latest edition. You can also ask your neighbors to bring you their papers when they’re done.

Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are better for delicate items that may break easily. If you know you’re planning to move, you can save these from any deliveries you get.

Labeling materials

Some experts recommend using colored sharpies for labeling boxes, one color for each room. That way, you will save time when you’re unloading. Check sales circulars and coupons for Sharpies and labels to save money on these items.

Packing tape

Packing tape is one area where you don’t want to be cheap. Having an easy-to-use tape gun, generally $10–$20, will make the packing process easier. Make sure to buy tape in bulk—it will be cheaper than buying a couple of rolls at a time.

Moving furniture and appliances

Paper packing tape

Great for labeling, paper packing tape costs under $10 a roll and can be easier to work with than regular plastic tape.

Furniture pads

Blankets can double as furniture pads if you don’t move often and want to save money on renting them from a moving company.

Furniture covers

These plastic-bag-like covers can be purchased inexpensively through your mover (from $5 to $15), although the cost can add up depending on how much you want covered. Remember that it may be cheaper to purchase a cover you don’t need than pay to get your couch cleaned after a move.

Dollies and hand trucks

If you don’t want to buy your own equipment, you can rent hand trucks from moving companies at a fraction of what they cost to buy. A hand truck can cost between $100 and $300 but is only about $10 to rent. A dolly is less expensive—around $20—but can take up precious space if you don’t have a basement or attic to store it. Forearm Forklifts are also fairly inexpensive at $20–$40 and can be reused multiple times.

Other moving containers

Garbage and trash bags

Garbage and trash bags are essential when you’re moving—whether you need to carry out the trash or throw last-minute items into a bag. Buying bags at a bulk store can be economically friendly, especially if they will fit your trash cans at your new place.

Buckets

If you’re cleaning your place during and after moving, buckets can help for deep cleanings, either inside or outdoors. Buy a few—you never know when they’ll come in handy.

“Nice to have” supplies

Utility knife

There are few things more handy during moving than a utility knife. The cost can range from $5 to $50 depending on the functions and blade quality. They’re especially handy when you’re unpacking, as they can rip through packing tape in seconds. If you don’t need the extra features that come with the pricier knives, a cheaper one is fine.

Cargo strap

If you’re worried about boxes moving around and your items breaking in the process, cargo straps are your lifesaver. These cost around $20 and help strap down your valuables in the moving van so they don’t shift.

Rope

Helpful for roping large items like mirrors, picture frames, or other works art, the most important part is to find sturdy rope, which is available at hardware stores. Plan to spend about $15 or rent it for a few bucks.

Rubber bands

Whether you’re packing away your favorite posters or other essentials, rubber bands can help squeeze your items into their storage containers. Buy a pack at your nearby office supply store for under $5—they should last you until your next move.

Padlocks

A sturdy padlock can be the difference between a secure moving van and one that you find empty the next morning. These start around $10 and can cost more than $100 depending on the strength you’re looking for.

Stretch wrap

This isn’t the stuff you use to keep the lasagna fresh in the fridge. Stretch wrap can be used to protect furniture, keep drawers closed, wrap boxes together, and more. This universal aide is around $20.

Gloves

Moving is a physical process, and while your back will get a workout, it’s your hands that can end up with the most damage. Moving gloves, ranging from $5 to $20, protect you from cuts and burns.

Toolbox

While moving, you’ll likely need to remove screws and nails as you disassemble bulky furniture. Keeping a toolbox full of the necessary items will make the process easier. Portable toolboxes range from $10 to $50, depending on whether you need the tools to go with it.

Boxes can be found at liquor stores or office supply chains. Some may charge you, but others will offer them for free. Boxes designed for bottles of alcohol are perfect for shipping your valuables and other fragile items because they have internal dividers that provide more support.

If you work in a large office, check to see what happens to the delivery boxes. You can also ask your friends or family who work in buildings that receive a lot of shipments.

If you’re moving locally, ask your social network if they have equipment you can borrow, such as dollies, hand trucks, and furniture pads. Some may also have leftover bubble wrap or newspapers that you can use.

Many people forget to count how much moving supplies cost when they calculate the price of moving. Don’t discount the boxes, furniture covers, and packing tape—all those materials can add up quickly if you’re not careful.

Making moving easier can seem impossible, but the list above should give you an idea of the supplies you need.

About Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. She writes a blog about paying off her student loans in three years at Debt Free After Three.