What Size Storage Unit Do You Need?

Figuring out what size unit fits your needs doesn’t have to be tedious, but there are lots of things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

Are you a renter?

A homeowner?

How big is your residence, and will you need to access your items while they’re in storage?

You get the point.

Self-storage units come in lots of shapes and sizes, and many are relatively inexpensive, which makes them perfect solutions for a variety of situations.

Maybe you need….

  • Extra living space
  • To de-clutter
  • Secure business storage for important documents
  • A temporary home for seasonal items like patio furniture or a boat
  • A hiding place for that awful dining room set your Aunt Agnes gave you

Whether you’re a certified hoarder in a 5 bedroom estate with a living room, family room, dining room, office, and wine cellar, or a minimalist with a Murphy bed in a 1 bedroom apartment, choosing the right storage unit size is imperative.

Whatever the case, it’s often difficult to calculate just how much space you’ll need.

Thankfully, the following storage unit size guide will eliminate most of the guesswork.

But let’s cover the basics first.

Though storage units are usually measured in square feet (sq. ft.), to get an accurate idea of how much they hold you’ll need to start thinking as the pros do.

Square feet only measures two dimensions (length and width), but height is equally important.

Here we’re talking cubic feet—or length x width x height.

When estimating how much stuff will fit into their truck, the moving company’s representative will base his (or her) calculations on cubic feet, not square footage.

As a rule of thumb, they figure that when packed correctly household goods weigh about 7 pounds per cubic foot.

You probably won’t be able to load your storage space as tightly as a professional mover would a truck, but with a little hard work and patience, you should still be able to average between 5 ½ and 6 pounds per cubic foot.

Confused?

Fear not, because we’ve included easy to follow formulas and real-world examples below.

Self-Storage Unit Size Chart

Unit Size Square feet Cubit Feet What it fits
5 x 5 25 175 Personal items, boxes, luggage
5 x 10 50 350 Studio apartment
10 x 10 100 700 1 or 2 bedroom apartment
10 x 15 150 1050 multi-room apartment or small home
10 x 20 200 1400 Average 2 bedroom house
10 x 30 300 2100 Portion of a large multi-room home

*Based on a unit height of 7 feet

Calculations for Storage Size

If you’re on the fence between using a full-service mover’s warehouse and public storage facilities, you can use your moving estimates to determine how much space you’ll need if you choose the latter option.

When movers give in-home estimates they generally provide an inventory of all the items you want moved.

Since most inventories are computerized, the estimator should leave a copy with you.

If he does, it will likely include both estimated weight and cubic feet figures at the bottom.

If it only shows estimated weight, you’ll still be able to calculate the cubic feet easily—just divide the weight by 6 or 7.

In the following 7,500 pound example, we’ll use 6 to be on the safe side:

7,500 pounds ÷ 6 = 1,250 cubic feet

Assuming your estimator was accurate, it should give you a reasonably good idea of what size storage unit you’ll need.

To get an idea of how much weight a unit will hold, just multiply its cubic capacity by 6.

Standard Storage Unit Sizes

5 x 5 Storage Units

(175 cubic feet, or 1050 pounds)

Even by minimalist standards, 5 x 5 storage units are on the small side.

In fact, they aren’t even large enough for king-size mattresses and most sofas, and they’re therefore best suited to boxes, small and easily disassembled furniture, and storage bins.

They’re also good options for record and hobby equipment storage, and empty-nest parents looking to clear their college kid’s junk out of their abandoned rooms once and for all.

When packed tightly from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, a 5 x 5 unit should be able to accommodate a little over 1,000 pounds.

5 x 10 Storage Units

(350 cubic feet, or 2100 pounds)

Featuring twice as much interior space as 5 x 5 units, 5 x 10 units are generally great options for those looking to store the contents of a moderately furnished studio or 1-bedroom apartment.

Though they’re not much bigger than the size of a small walk-in closet, these units will accommodate mattresses and box springs, major appliances, and standard furniture like dressers and chest of drawers from full bedrooms.

10 x 10 Storage Units

(700 cubic feet, or 4200 pounds)

For one or two-bedroom apartment dwellers who prefer open spaces and simple living to accumulating lots of stuff, 10 x 10 units are often the way to go.

They’re about the size of a nursery or small bedroom, so they’ll generally accommodate bedroom sets, small mattress sets, appliances, and a decent number of boxes.

If you’ll be storing sofas and loveseats space may be tight, so consider standing them on their ends to conserve space like professional movers do, but cover them with stretch wrap and moving pads first.

10 x 15 Units

(1050 cubic feet, or 6300 pounds)

Generally, 10 x 15 units are capable of holding the entire contents of a 2-bedroom apartment, or a small home that doesn’t include a basement, attic, and garage brimming with shop tools, old appliances, and home workout equipment.

At 1050 cubic feet, it’s possible to cram 6,000 or 7,000 pounds of household goods into a 10 x 15 unit, but that’s assuming you’ve packed correctly and have some experience filling all the nooks and crannies.

Though many apartments contain 6,000 pounds of household goods or less, most single-family homes have much more.

If you’re on the borderline, consider opting for the next bigger size.

10 x 20 Units

(1400 cubic feet, or 8400 pounds)

With 10 x 20 units, we’re starting to get into single-family home territory, but it’s important to note that most families with kids have accumulated well over 10,000 pounds of household goods.

In fact, some 2-bedroom apartments have nearly that much, so use the above guide with reservation.

To put things into perspective, a 10 x 20 unit is about the size of a standard one-car garage.

If your home only has two bedrooms and no attic or garage, it’s possible that everything will fit nicely into a 10 x 20 unit—even if you’re including appliances, a mattress set, large overstuffed furniture like sofas and loveseats, and bulky furniture like entertainment centers, dressers and armoires.

10 ft. x 30 Units

(2100 cubic feet, or 12,600 pounds)

Though it’s commonly stated that 10 x 30 units are big enough to accommodate everything from a 3 or moving-cost-4 bedroom home, that’s usually far from the truth.

In fact many traditional families with kids will need two 10 x 30 units if they intend to empty their homes.

These units are roughly the same size as a standard two-car garage, maybe less.

Imagine trying to cram the contents of your multi-room home and basement into an already full garage.

Probably wouldn’t work, right?

Again, err on the side of caution.

Consider asking the storage facility staff if they have a spare unit available just in case your items won’t fit.

Storage Tips

Making your belongings fit into your storage takes finesse.

Choosing the correct size initially will make the process as painless as possible, but it’s all for naught if you can’t fill it efficiently and load it easily.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the number of boxes to a minimum
  • Use uniform cartons and plastic storage bins to make stacking easy
  • Load the unit like you would load a truck (using the tier system)
  • Use larger items like dressers and appliances for base
  • Use nightstands, trunks, and sturdy boxes in the middle of each tier
  • Place chairs, small furniture and fragile items on top
  • Stack items as high as you safely can to utilize the space efficiently
  • Leave an aisle or two if you’ll need to access your items while they’re in storage
  • Ask whether you’ll have access to your items around the clock
  • Ask if the facility has a security system, climate control, and if it’s frequently exterminated
  • How close will you be able to get the truck to your unit?
  • Is it on the second or third floor?
  • If so, are there elevators, loading docks, and free dollies to use?

Though the aforementioned tips and recommendations won’t guarantee that your storage experience will be a walk in the park, they’ll definitely improve the likelihood that things will go off without a hitch.

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