I have a new obsession – boxes!  Between moving my mum down to Durban and assisting two clients, I need a lot of boxes.  So whenever I go shopping nowadays I am on the lookout for boxes. Not any box will do.  It needs to be strong, not too large and easy to carry.  Apple boxes are one of your best bets if you can lay your hands on them. 

The apple packer at Food Lover’s Market, Nkule, tells me that ‘everyone wants the apple boxes’.  They are strong, they have ‘handles’ (i.e. holes where you can put your hands), and you can pack them with or without the lid, depending on your needs. Because they are in such demand, I was having a bit of trouble getting apple boxes recently, but Nkule saved the day.  I arrived at the Food Lover’s Market warehouse area to find a massive pile of boxes set aside for me with a note pinned to them saying “Do not touch plzzzz!”  I had to make two trips to get them all home!  And I certainly won’t need to make another trip for a while.

Apple box with lid on – note ‘handles’
Apple box with lid removed

Liquor boxes from the bottle store are another good bet, especially for books, as they are strong and not too big.  Another tip is to go to the supermarkets on Monday mornings when they are repacking the shelves, as there is usually a good supply.  Some stores are happy for you to take them directly from the packers, while others prefer you to go to their back-of-store warehouse/loading area.   If you are going to need boxes on a regular basis I would recommend establishing a good relationship with the manager and the packers. The advantage of supermarket boxes is that they can be flattened (compared to apple boxes) so you can fit a whole lot more into your car.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of getting boxes from various stores, there are a number of options for buying or renting boxes at reasonable rates. Here are some that I like:

King of Boxes in Durban provides new or used boxes as well as packing supplies like tape and bubble wrap.  They sell packing kits for one bed, two bed or three bed homes as well as a kitchen kit.  The kitchen kit includes a couple of mugs and glasses boxes (with cardboard dividers). They will buy back any products you don’t use.

Rentabox in Joburg (planning to open in Durban and Cape Town soon) provides a green alternative to cardboard boxes, by renting out eco-friendly plastic moving boxes together with packing materials.  They deliver the boxes to you and collect them once your move is over (one or two week deals).  There are a number of advantages compared to cardboard boxes – they are stronger, water resistant, stackable, lockable, have handles, are more hygienic and of course environmentally friendly.

Last of all, if you are willing to pay, your moving company can box it all up for you!  I did that when I moved back to South Africa from Canada over 10 years ago. I wanted to make sure that everything was well packed, to minimise breakages as much as possible.  We still have those boxes stored in our roof, and they could come in handy one day.   Fortunately for now we don’t have any moving plans. So I can devote my attention to helping other people move.

Vicky Sim is a professional organiser based in Durban, South Africa with a passion for helping her clients to transform their space and simplify their lives.

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