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What size storage unit do I need?

Measure your belongings for the most accurate fit

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Written by Sally Jones
Edited by Vincent Landino

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    couple moving boxes into storage unit

    It’s important to get the right size storage unit for your needs, whether you need temporary storage during a move or permanent storage for belongings you just can’t fit in your home. However, renting a unit that’s too large might be a waste of money, and renting a unit that’s too small can result in headaches and last-minute panic.

    So, how much storage space do you need? Keep reading to see what common storage unit sizes are useful for and how to calculate what you’ll need for your situation.


    Key insights 

    • There are different ways of estimating what size storage unit you need, but the most accurate method is actually measuring your belongings.
    • It’s generally a good idea to go with a storage unit that’s a little larger than you think you may need — it’s better to have too much room than too little.
    • Talk to your storage unit provider about your options and what you can do if you pick the wrong size.

    How to estimate storage unit size

    There are three main ways to get a decent estimate of what size storage unit you need.

    Method 1: Measure square footage

    The most accurate method of calculating what size storage unit you’ll need is efficiently stacking the things you want to store and measuring the space they take up.

    This can be pretty easy if you’ve already boxed up your smaller belongings. Stack the boxes and group your furniture close together, then get out the measuring tape. Multiply the length of your combined belongings by the width of the stack to get the square footage you’ll need. (If your stack is especially tall, you might want to think about the overall volume of your storage unit as well.) This number should be enough to get you started comparing storage facility options and prices.

    Unfortunately, calculating the square footage of your belongings isn’t the most convenient method if your things aren’t packed up already. Visualizing how unpacked items fit together can be difficult, and the further you get from actual measurements, the less accurate this method becomes.

    Method 2: Use the “number of rooms” equivalency

    If your household goods are not yet packed up and ready to measure, you can take an educated guess based on the size of your home or the room you’re trying to clear out.

    Check out the chart below for a rough estimate of how common storage unit sizes correspond to domestic spaces.

    Storage unit sizeIdeal space
    5 feet by 5 feetA walk-in closet
    5 feet by 10 feetA single bedroom, dorm room or studio apartment
    10 feet by 10 feetA one-bedroom apartment
    10 feet by 15 feetA one- or two-bedroom house
    10 feet by 20 feetA three-bedroom house
    10 feet by 30 feetA four- or five-bedroom house

    Method 3: Use an inventory calculator

    If you want an estimate based on a more detailed breakdown of your belongings, some storage companies offer calculators on their websites to help you take inventory of your things and find a corresponding storage unit. However, these calculators have limitations, and sometimes even asking your storage facility directly might not be enough to get an accurate estimate.

    What if your estimate is wrong?

    If you’ve taken inventory but you’re still unsure what size storage unit you need, it’s worth talking to your storage provider about your options. Find a facility that has a range of units available and ask ahead of time whether you’ll be able to scale up or down if you need to.

    Susan, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Durham, North Carolina, had no trouble transferring to a smaller unit “with little effort.” However, not everyone is so lucky.

    Jacob, a reviewer on our site from Brookline, Massachusetts, had a different experience when their storage unit wasn’t large enough: “We were told by the size of our home that we would only need two 16-foot PODs. I acknowledge that it all depends on the size of the furniture. However, we don’t have ‘large’ furniture or a lot of pieces. In reality our belongings did not fit into two PODs and we had to rent a moving truck, hire another team to load it, and drive it halfway across the U.S. and hire someone to unload it.”

    This is why it’s often a good idea to get a storage unit that’s a little bigger than you think you’ll need. You may end up paying more, but you’re less likely to be stuck scrambling to find a last-minute solution when you realize your belongings won’t fit in the unit you reserved.

    What size storage unit do I need for just a few things?

    Many households keep small storage units year-round for odds and ends. These units can be useful for storing yard equipment and off-season items, like winter clothing and holiday decorations. The smallest units commonly available, usually 5 feet by 5 feet, work very well for this.

    “Small units, like a 5 feet by 5 feet, are about the size of a small walk-in closet,” said Tanya Churchill of Storage Of America, a chain of self-storage facilities in the Midwest. “These are the perfect size if you just want to store smaller items like clothes or some boxes.”

    What size storage unit do I need for a studio or dorm room?

    A 5-foot-by-10-foot storage unit is enough to hold about a room’s worth of belongings, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to put away the items in a dorm room or studio apartment. A 50-square-foot unit is about the size of a large outdoor storage shed, according to Churchill.

    A 5-by-10 storage unit can hold roughly:

    • One bed (including the frame, mattress and box spring)
    • Two nightstands or end tables
    • Two or three lamps
    • One desk or table
    • One or two chairs
    • One filing cabinet
    • Two or three boxes of kitchenware
    • One minifridge
    • The contents of a closet

    What size storage unit do I need for a one-bedroom apartment?

    A one-bedroom apartment is a step up in size from a studio. If you’re trying to pack away all of your belongings, you’ll have the contents of both a bedroom and living room to store, plus kitchenware and the stuff from a closet or two. This means you’ll likely require the next largest storage unit, which is usually a 10-foot-by-10-foot container.

    “A 10-foot by-10-foot can fit the size of a one-bedroom home,” said Churchill. “This size is perfect if you are storing some household furniture.”

    A 10-by-10 unit can hold approximately:

    • One bed (including the frame, mattress and box spring)
    • Two nightstands
    • One dresser
    • One sofa
    • One coffee table
    • Two end tables
    • Two or three lamps
    • A desk and chair
    • One filing cabinet
    • A dining table and four chairs
    • Four boxes of kitchenware
    • Small appliances
    • The contents of two closets

    What size storage unit do I need for a small house?

    A small house will have one or two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a laundry room and possibly a small dining area. There may also be a garage, patio or outdoor shed with additional belongings for you to pack away. To store the belongings in a house this size, you’ll want to look at a larger storage unit than you would for most apartments.

    “A 10-foot-by-15-foot can store the contents of a two-bedroom house,” said Churchill, “including large household furniture and appliances.”

    A 10-by-15 storage unit can hold approximately:

    • Two beds (including frames, mattresses and box springs)
    • Two to four nightstands
    • Two or three dressers
    • One sofa or sectional
    • One entertainment center
    • One or two armchairs
    • One coffee table
    • Two end tables
    • Four or five lamps
    • Two desks with chairs
    • Two filing cabinets
    • A dining table and four to six chairs
    • Large appliances, such as a stove or refrigerator
    • Eight boxes of kitchenware
    • Small appliances
    • The contents of three or four closets
    • A washer and dryer
    • Six to eight boxes of garage items
    • The contents of a garden shed

    What size storage unit do I need for a three-bedroom house?

    A 10-foot-by-20-foot unit is generally enough to store the contents of the average house. “A 10-by-20 is about the size of a small garage,” said Churchill, “and can fit the contents of a two- or three-bedroom house.”

    A 10-foot-by-20-foot unit can hold approximately:

    • Three beds (including frames, mattresses and box springs)
    • Two to five nightstands
    • Three or four dressers
    • One sofa or sectional
    • Two or three entertainment centers or bookcases
    • Two to four armchairs
    • One coffee table
    • Two end tables
    • Six or seven lamps
    • Three desks and chairs
    • Five filing cabinets
    • A kitchen table and four chairs
    • A dining table and six to eight chairs
    • Large appliances, such as a stove or refrigerator
    • 10 to 12 boxes of kitchenware
    • Small appliances
    • The contents of four or five closets, including one walk-in
    • A washer and dryer
    • 10 to 12 boxes of garage items
    • Outdoor furniture
    • The contents of a garden shed

    What size storage unit do I need for a four- or five-bedroom house?

    If you’re moving the contents of a large house, you need the largest commonly available storage unit. Most storage facilities nationwide have 10-foot-by-30-foot storage units, and Churchill confirmed that these can store the contents of a four- or five-bedroom house.

    In addition to having more bedrooms, a house this size will usually have more bathrooms, walk-in closets and “flex” rooms, such as a bonus room, family room, den or home office. This can require a significant increase in square footage to store properly.

    A 10-foot-by-30-foot unit can hold approximately:

    • Four to five beds (including frames, mattresses and box springs)
    • Four or five entertainment centers or bookcases
    • Five or six armchairs
    • Two coffee tables
    • Two end tables
    • Eight to 10 lamps
    • Several desks and chairs
    • Up to eight filing cabinets
    • A kitchen table and six to eight chairs
    • Five or six counter stools
    • A dining table and 10 to 12 chairs
    • Six to eight nightstands
    • Five to seven dressers
    • Two sofas or sectionals
    • Large appliances, such as a stove or refrigerator
    • Up to 20 boxes of kitchenware
    • Small appliances
    • The contents of six to eight closets, including several walk-ins
    • A washer and dryer
    • Up to 24 boxes of garage items
    • One outdoor dining set
    • An outdoor sofa and chairs
    • The contents of a garden shed

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      FAQ

      Can you fit a couch in a 5-by-7 storage unit?

      It depends on the size of the couch. The average couch is about 7 feet (84 inches) long, so that might just fit. However, sofas come in a variety of sizes, ranging from small love seats (about 52 inches long) to large sectionals (often over 100 inches long). So, be sure to measure your sofa before you commit to a 5-foot-by-7-foot storage unit.

      If you’re on a budget and hoping to fit everything in a 5-foot-by-7-foot storage unit, ask how tall the unit’s ceiling is. You may be able to store the sofa standing on end for a short stay. Try not to do this in long-term storage situations, however, as it could impact the structural integrity of your couch.

      Can you fit a queen-size bed in a 5-by-10 storage unit?

      A queen-size mattress is 5 feet by 6 feet, 8 inches (60 by 80 inches), so it should easily fit in a 5-foot-by-10-foot storage unit.

      A king-size mattress is 6 feet, 4 inches, by 6 feet, 8 inches (76 by 80 inches), so one of these should also fit in a 5-foot-by-10-foot unit — just not while lying flat on the ground.

      Are there storage units for vehicles and boats?

      There are storage units for almost all kinds of vehicles, from motorcycles to RVs. However, you want to account for any unique dimensions your vehicle may require. For example, a storage unit that’s 7 feet wide might be wide enough to fit your car but not wide enough for you to get out after you drive it in.

      Bottom line

      Most nationwide storage companies offer a range of storage unit sizes, so you have a variety of options to choose from. You can estimate what size storage unit you’ll need in a number of different ways, but if you want to be extra sure, you might want to try multiple methods and compare results. When getting quotes from storage facilities, ask if you’ll be able to scale up or down if you find you’ve miscalculated.

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