A Beginner's Guide on How to Pick the Rightsized Storage Unit

Published on 3/6/2019

A self-storage unit can be a lifesaver in many situations; they let you store away all the things that are valuable to you, without putting you through the hassle of renting out a bigger house. Nonetheless, you do need to put in some thought before renting out a storage unit for your things. Just like with a home, you only want to rent as much space as you’ll need; buying a bigger unit than you can fill means paying more for unneeded space. 

But how does one determine what size of a storage unit to pick? That’s exactly what we’ll explain to you, by taking a number of factors into consideration. With our guide, you’ll easily determine the best storage unit for your budget and needs. 

What are You Storing? 

Before thinking that ‘a larger unit would be nice’, narrow down how much stuff you’ll be storing away in terms of basic storage units, like cabinets, closets, or even rooms. 


Whether you’re storing a room full of childhood memories, a closet full of trinkets, or something in between, there are plenty of sizes to choose from. Let’s go through them: 

Walk-in Closet 5x5 - For starters, a 5x5 unit fits a whole closet. This is ideal if you want to stack up on smaller things, like seasonal garden tools, clothes, and items to clear up your house for some extra space. 

Half-bedroom 5x10 - A 5x10 unit fits around a half-bedroom worth of things. In fact, if you pack your things properly, you’ll be able to fit an entire bedroom in 50 square feet. This unit is great if you’re remodeling an office or bedroom and need to put away your things for a while until the paint dries and furniture is rearranged. 

1 to 2 Bedrooms 10x10 - A 10x10 unit can fit one to two bedrooms worth of things, depending on what you want to store away. If you’re moving out of a larger house and into a smaller one and need to store away a large amount of furniture and seasonal items, this is the one for you. 

3 or 4 Bedrooms in 10x15 - Of course, you also have the option to rent units of up to 10x15 that can store two to four bedrooms worth of stuff. You can keep a television, couch set, bed, dresser, and plenty of boxes. 

Vehicle or Full House in 10x20 (5 Bedrooms) - As long as your vehicle is less than 7.5 feet tall, it can fit in a 10x20 feet-sized unit. This unit offers 200 square feet, which is equivalent to around five bedrooms. If the main thing you need to store away is your car and a few extra boxes, this is the size for you. 

Full House plus Vehicle in 10x30 (7 Bedrooms) - It’s not every day that you need 300 square feet of space, but if you do, then a 10x30 unit is enough to hold around seven bedrooms worth of stuff, including space for a vehicle, too. It’s enough space to store beds, entertainment systems, kitchen sets, dressers, and boxes of other things. 

Taking Care of Fragile Items

Everyone owns a few things that need extra care in terms of space, packaging, or protection from the elements. This fragile item could be an expensive artwork you bought at an exhibition, your mom’s vase, or a grandfather clock, and it will still need extra care. If you have a lot of such items, you’ll need to get a bigger unit. 

Extra Space 

In some cases, you just need some extra space to make sure that your flat-screen TV doesn’t bump into anything else and ruin the screen. 

Wrapping and Padding 

To make sure that fragile heirlooms or your grandmother’s precious glass animal collection doesn’t fall over and shatter into a million pieces, extra padding or bubble-wrapping is necessary. Again, this can also take up extra space. 

Temperature Controlled 

Certain delicate and priceless items, like wax-based sculptures or artwork, need to be stored away in temperature controlled units that offer protection from the elements. In most cases, these items are a person’s investment and need to be cared for as such. 

What’s Your Budget?

After making an inventory of all the things you’ll be moving to a storage unit, you need to determine a manageable budget. 

Low Budget and More Stuff? 

It’s nothing new when people have to store far more than what they can afford to. If that’s the case, you’ll need to do some thrifty packing by tightly putting together your things, especially clothes and flexible items that can be easily compressed. 

This will leave you behind with more room for fragile and sensitive items that you can wrap with blankets and put away. Of course, it doesn’t entirely depend on your budget and storage requirements alone; you also need to consider how often you’ll need what you’re putting away. 

How Much Access do You Need? 

When packing away an entire house worth of things, coming back a couple of months later and getting a few items can seem like a challenging task. This raises the question of access and how much you’ll need for items you’ve stored away. To make this task a little easier, divide your assets into different categories as follows.  

Seasonal Access or Until You Move  

Admit it; you hold on to some things just for the sake of keeping them. We’re not suggesting that you should discard your Christmas sweater collection, but it’s definitely not something you need every weekend. That is unless you want to make a fashion statement in Minnesota. 

Therefore, if some things need to be left in storage for over half of the year, like a plastic Christmas tree, fairy lights, and Halloween decorations, you can afford to pack them tightly. Not to mention, you can put them away in a corner behind the stuff you actually need now and then. 

Regular Access 

Things that you need regular access to, whether it’s camping gear, kitchen utensils, or Tupperware, need to be put towards the front of your storage unit. These should also be arranged in cabinets or drawers with plenty of walking space in front of them so you have room to put out what you’ll be taking. 

Moreover, you shouldn’t be packing regularly accessed items too tight, since it can get messy when you’re making an impromptu stop to pick up something. Imagine having to scour through mountains of boxes to find a pair of hiking boots for a weekend trip. 

Packing it Right 

It may not seem so, but proper packing can take the burden of extra space off your wallet. However, there are too many guidelines for packing to wrap up here, so we’ll give you some advice on making the most of your space. 

Cardboard Boxes for Stack-ability 

It’s best that you invest in some high-quality plastic bins or cardboard boxes to store your items. These have defined shapes and offer stack-ability so you can use whatever vertical space you’re getting. Of course, you need to make sure that you don’t create a safety hazard and having a washing machine fall on top of you; keep heavy things at the bottom.

Storage Units Galore! 

Ultimately, it’s your call as to how big of a storage unit you want to rent out. While some people prefer to keep most of their items at home, minimalists like to keep the clutter away in a storage unit until they’re finally ready to let go. 

The bottom line is that you have a wide array of unit size options to choose from, based on the kind of stuff you’re storing. 

Be careful to check if you’re storing certain fragile or delicate items, and if you have the right packing skills, you can make up for a small budget by fitting more stuff in a smaller unit.