What size storage unit do I need? Depending on your situation, the answer to this question might take some work. After all, there are several storage unit sizes to choose from at each facility, all with varying features and amenities.
The storage unit size best suited for your situation depends on several factors. Of course, if you’re hoping to store the contents of your entire apartment, you’ll need a larger unit than someone just looking to stow a couch temporarily. You’ll also need to consider differing availability at storage facilities near you before making a final decision.
Choosing the right storage unit for you doesn’t need to be difficult, though. We created this in-depth storage unit size guide (complete with videos) to help you narrow down your selection. If simple graphics are more helpful for you, feel free to check out our storage unit size estimator instead.
Related: How to Clean Out a Storage Unit
How to Pick the Correct Storage Unit Size
1. Determine the storage unit’s primary function.
To figure out what size storage unit you need, you’ll need to think about why you’re interested in self-storage in the first place. This is an important step: You don’t want to outgrow a storage unit in a matter of a few months only to move everything to a larger space shortly after.
Some common questions to ask yourself might be:
- Will I be storing a car?
- Will I be storing an expanding business inventory?
- Do I need temporary storage for a move?
- Do I want to store some items indefinitely?
- Will I be rotating items in and out of the unit?
It’s important to know what you want to store and how often the items in your unit will be changing or rotated out. The unit’s function will determine the storage unit size that makes the most sense for you.
Here’s a helpful example: If you plan to store business inventory, rent a larger unit than you’ll initially need to give you room to grow.
However, if you only need to store items during a temporary move, pick a unit that’s appropriate for your initial belongings. In this situation, the amount of stuff in your storage unit will unlikely change.
2. Create a preliminary inventory.
You might already have a general idea of what you want to put in the storage unit. That’s a great start, but walking through your house and making a list can also be helpful. (Sometimes, you don’t realize how much stuff you need to store until you actually take an inventory.)
When making your preliminary inventory, make a note of the following:
- Include a rough estimate of how many moving boxes or totes you’ll store.
- Determine how many pieces of furniture that will go into storage.
- Get rough measurements of larger pieces, if possible.
Related: Is Living in a Storage Unit Legal?
3. Use painters tape to visualize storage unit sizes.
If you have difficulty conceptualizing space, here’s one trick to try. Use some painter’s tape or masking tape to mark off a space the size of an average unit in your driveway or another open area. Next, place some empty moving boxes inside to see how quickly the area fills. This trick works best for smaller storage units.
Conceptualizing Storage Unit Sizes
As you’re visualizing how much storage your unit will provide, pay careful attention to the dimensions listed by the facility. Length and width could be flipped depending on the unique layout of the unit and the facility it’s located in.
For example, a common question new renters ask is: What is the difference between a 5×10 and 10×5 storage unit?
The answer might be simpler than you think. That’s because two storage units with 5×10 and 10×5 dimensions technically give you the same amount of floor space. However, one has a shorter length and a longer width, while the other one is reversed. Keep this in mind when researching storage unit sizes, and feel free to contact the facility if you have additional questions. A storage manager should be able to show you the unit before you sign a rental agreement.
4. If you’re in doubt, go one size bigger.
Being more economical by choosing a storage unit that is smaller than you need isn’t always a good idea. (Especially for safety reasons.) For example, you should always avoid packing boxes more than four high inside of a storage unit. Even if you’re a particularly tall individual, boxes that fall over at that height can easily injure anyone with access to your unit or damage your belongings. (You should always avoid stacking furniture more than two pieces tall for similar reasons.)
If you’ve mapped out how much space you need but notice the unit will be filled to the brim, you might want to consider going with the larger option. And if you’re nervous about springing for a larger unit for budgetary reasons, note that sometimes a larger-sized unit is only a matter of a few more dollars a month. In some cases, a larger unit might actually be less expensive if there’s more availability. You could also save money on a larger storage unit if the rental is not climate controlled. Don’t let the larger size deter you before you have a chance to run the numbers— you’ve always got options!
The Most Common Storage Unit Sizes
Important Note: When checking out the following storage unit sizes, remember that not all locations will have all the sizes available. In this case, opting for the next size up is best.
5 x 5
This compact space is the smallest storage unit available in most storage facilities. How can you use it? The 5’x5′ is perfect when you need a little more room around the house. Let’s put the size in perspective: this unit is the size of an average closet. It should hold several boxes and one or two small pieces of furniture.
What fits inside of a 5×5 storage unit?
- Chest of drawers
- Several moving boxes or totes
- Small chairs
5 x 10
The 5’x10′ is our second smallest storage unit, and it’s helpful if you want just a little more space for your belongings. This size is ideal if you live in a small apartment in the city. For comparison’s sake, it’s roughly the size of a walk-in closet. However, it’s big enough for a king-size bed, an extra dresser, and about ten to fifteen medium size boxes.
What fits inside of a 5×10 storage unit?
- 1-2 large pieces of furniture
- 10-15 moving boxes or totes
- Yard equipment
5 x 15
The next size is the narrow 5’x15′ storage unit, which is about 30% bigger than the 5’x10′. This storage unit can fit the furnishings of a full-size bedroom, which will work well if you’re moving out of a tiny studio apartment. You could also roll in a motorcycle for winter storage, too.
What fits inside of a 5×15 storage unit?
- Bedroom furniture
- 10-15 moving boxes or totes
10 x 10
The 10’x10′ is the most popular storage unit size because of its versatility. It’s a medium-sized space of about one-hundred square feet or roughly half the size of a standard garage. You can comfortably fit the contents of a two-bedroom apartment and all the boxes and totes that go with them.
What fits inside of a 10×10 storage unit?
- All the contents of a small apartment
- Major appliances
- 10-20 moving boxes or totes
10 x 15
For a medium-sized unit, consider the 10’x15′. You can store the contents of two bedrooms here, including large items like appliances, furniture, and even a piano. If you have a compact car to store, this is the unit to try first.
What fits inside a 10×15 storage unit?
- Certain models of compact cars
- All the contents of a two-bedroom home
- Major appliances
- 10-20 moving boxes or totes
10 x 20
The second-largest storage unit is the 10’x20′. To visualize, picture the size of a one-car garage. This unit should accommodate most midsize cars or all the furniture, appliances, and boxes of a two or three-bedroom home.
What fits inside of a 10×20 storage unit?
- Belongings from a 2-3 bedroom house
- Some compact and mid-sized cars
- A fair amount of small business inventory or supplies
10 x 30
The largest residential storage unit available is the 10’x30′. If you rent this storage unit, you’ll have access to just about three-hundred square feet of space. This unit is large enough for the contents of a four-bedroom home. If you’ve got a large family or growing business and need ample space, it doesn’t get any bigger than this! You could even fit a pickup truck in here and still have room for lots of odds and ends.
What fits inside of a 10×30 storage unit?
- Contents of a four-bedroom house
- Mattress sets
- Large appliances
- Dozens of boxes and totes
What Size Storage Unit is Best For You?
Self-storage is an affordable and convenient solution, no matter where you’re located or what your unique needs might be. Whether you’re looking for just a little bit of temporary storage during a big move or need a more permanent space to house inventory for your small business, you can use this guide to find the right-sized storage unit for your situation.
If you’re still unsure what size storage unit you need, contact our customer service team with specific questions. Good luck!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on November 20, 2018, and was revised July 20, 2020 & May 24, 2023.