Packing up your dorm room for the summer? Being deployed overseas and need to store your house for a year? Whatever the reason for needing a storage unit, let us be your guide for determining which storage unit is right for you.
While various factors can help you decide on a storage facility, making a detailed list of what you plan to store makes finding the right storage unit size that much easier. Additionally, knowing what items you need to store will help you decide what size and type of storage unit to budget for.
Non-climate-controlled units are usually outside and are similar to a garage. They have convenient drive-up access, making accessing, loading, and unloading items easier and faster — especially if you've hired movers who are paid by the hour. They're ideal for the short-term storage of items that are not at risk for damage by extreme temperature shifts or varying humidity levels, as well as seasonal or long-term storage of larger items like a car or boat. They're also cheaper to rent with more location options available.
Climate controlled storage units maintain a stable temperature (between 55–80 degrees F) and consistent humidity levels throughout the year. They're indoor, which is an added layer of protection against any weather conditions — not to mention pests and thieves. It's best to keep valuable and delicate items that are sensitive to temperature and humidity fluctuations in these types of storage spaces. Such possessions include important documents, family heirlooms and antiques, valued collections (stamps, art, and photographs), upholstered furniture, wooden instruments (pianos, violins), clothing, electronics, vinyl records, and mattresses. This option also works well for long-term storage of items. However, keep in mind that climate control options can vary. Some facilities offer only temperature control or humidity control, while others offer both. While these units are frequently priced at a premium, much of what you're paying for is avoiding the horrific surprise of finding your belongings covered in mildew or dealing with the loss of a family heirloom that was warped and cracked by a sudden swing in humidity.
One question to ask yourself is: Will you need to have access to your items at any point during their time in storage? If so, you may want to create a small path to move about in your storage unit. Spending hours packing and repacking your unit to find your toolset would be annoying, especially if you throw your back out in the process. To allow for that extra room, choose a storage unit that is one size above what's recommended.
People often underestimate how much stuff they have. If you're not much of a minimalist and your house is more densely furnished due to taste, kids, or the fact that you never quite got the hang of efficiently packing boxes, budget for one size up.
Using a self-storage calculator is another great way to quickly estimate how much space you need.
Small Storage Units
5x5 (25 square feet)
This storage space is generally the smallest available at most facilities, around the size of a small walk-in closet. It's perfect for storing seasonal clothes or decorations, packing up your dorm room for the summer, or as a place to stash your old videogames and Star Wars collection, along with a few small furniture items before the baby arrives.
5x10 (50 square feet)
Considered the size of a walk-in closet or large garden shed, it's large enough to fit the contents of a small studio apartment or mid-sized room. It can fit 10–15 boxes and two to three large pieces of furniture, such as a queen-sized bed, dresser, and bookcase. Seasonal items (such as clothes and outdoor gear, gardening tools, and even snow tires) are also solid storage options for this space. If your stuff can fit into a small cargo van or a 10-foot moving truck, this size will likely work.
Medium Storage Unit
10x10 (100 square feet)
This size is suitable for the contents of a two-bedroom apartment, along with 5–10 small to medium-sized boxes. If your belongings for storage can fit into a 15-foot moving truck, this size should be perfect.
Large Storage Units
10x15 (150 square feet)
This space can fit 3–4 rooms or an entire two-bedroom house, with multiple oversized items, like couches, one or two appliances, and 8–10 medium boxes. If you're using a 20-foot truck for your move, this unit should give you just the right amount of space.
10x20 (200 square feet)
Similar to the size of a 10x15 unit size, this slightly more substantial unit is the size of a one-car garage. It can fit 4–5 rooms or the equivalent of a 3-bedroom house, including multiple beds and couch sets, a dining room set, appliances, an entertainment center, and a good number of boxes. The contents of a 25-foot moving truck can fit into this space.
Very Large Storage Unit
10x30 (300 square feet)
Among the largest units you can find, this isn't a standard size offered by all storage rental companies. Equivalent to a one-and-a-half car garage, an entire 4–6-bedroom home can fit into this space, complete with oversized items such as appliances and furniture sets and with enough space left over for quite a few different-sized boxes. Though less common among individuals and families, businesses often utilize this size for office storage and industrial-sized items. Large vehicles, including RVs, small boats, and cars, can also be stowed here, but keep in mind storage companies usually have special parking spots or outdoor storage for larger transport items.
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