Are you running out of storage in your home? You don’t have to give away your belongings, but you can still downsize your life. More than 10% of U.S. households rent storage space. Storage units aren’t just for people on the move, either. Plenty of settled homeowners rent storage space to store family heirlooms, antique furniture, and more. Average self-storage unit costs vary by size, location, and features. Depending on your needs, you can pay as low as $65 to as high as $300. You could even score units for less than $50.
Average costs lead to the next point: how much storage space do you really need? It’s time to assess your life to find the perfect storage unit to match.
Moving Away to College
Are you moving away to college or moving a student into a college apartment?
Storage units make the transition much easier, whether you’re a student or a parent.
The best size for this situation is a 10×10 storage unit. This is a popular size for people packing up and moving to new locations.
A 10×10 space can hold the following items and more:
- A mattress and box spring
- Disassembled bed (bed board, etc. )
- Sofa or loveseat couch
- Small tables or foldable tables
- Rolled up area rugs
- Lamps and lighting
- Packing boxes
Theoretically, a 10×10 self-storage unit can store two bedrooms’ worth of belongings. However, you’ll need some strategic packing skills.
How to Pack a 10×10 Storage Unit
Packing a storage unit is like playing Tetris.
First, assess the space. You have 100 square feet of space. Ceilings are typically 8 feet from the ground, but that number may vary.
Next, visualize your belongings in the space. It helps to map it out on a piece of paper. There are even computer programs that help you visualize the unit.
A 10×10 space is perfect for storing belongings that may not fit inside a college dorm. Most dorms are already furnished with beds, desks, shelves, and closet space.
Storage units are ideal for storing the following items for college students:
- Extra bedding
- Winter clothes
- Past semesters’ notes
- USB cords
- AC adapters
- Art projects
- Packing boxes
To maximize space, use rectangular, stackable plastic storage containers with lids. Vacuum-sealing your clothes also saves space.
College kids move a lot. Self-storage units are so convenient when you’re in-between moves.
Storage spaces are also convenient for parents who need to store their teen’s belongings. You may want to convert their room into a study or craft room.
Homeowners on the Move
Are you packing up and moving to a brand new home? You’re going to need a lot more storage space.
A 10×10 unit is suitable for storing two bedrooms or three small bedrooms at the most. A 5×5 space is only enough room for a closet, while a 5×10 unit only holds one bedroom.
Does this mean you have to rent multiple storage units? No!
You could rent a 10×15 storage space. This unit provides enough room for four full bedrooms! This option is ideal for multi-bedroom apartments.
10×20 storage units can fit five bedrooms, including furniture and accessories. 10×25 units can comfortably store up to six bedrooms. These sizes are ideal for most homeowners.
10×15 to 10×25 foot storage units cost more than 10×5 and 10×10 storage units. Fortunately, you can find discounts to lower your costs. For example, some providers may offer discounts for certain rental terms.
Like 10×5 units, be strategic with your packing. Don’t toss in your belongings without any thought. There’s a good chance you’re paying too much for a 10×25 unit when you could be paying less for a 10×15 room.
Packing Your 10×15+ Storage Unit
Let’s take stock of everything you need to store:
- All Bedroom belongings
- Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and boards
- Lamps, wall lighting, outdoor lighting
- Paintings, wall art, and decor
- Chairs, recliners, and sofas
- End tables, coffee tables, corner tables
- Bookshelves, china cabinets, specialty cabinets
- Books (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.)
- Children’s toys
- Outdoor playsets
- Outdoor furniture and fixtures
You also have to think about yard equipment, tools, sports equipment, and other items that live in your garage. There’s a lot of ground to cover!
Why not hold a garage sale to lighten your load? This tip will easily drop you down a unit size or two.
Advertise your garage sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor, or Facebook. You’ll be surprised by how fast your items go. Homeowners are always looking for great bargains.
Downsizing Storage Space After You Move
Once you’ve settled into your new home, downsize to a smaller storage unit to save money. You could even downsize to a small 5×5 unit to store family heirlooms.
A 5×5 storage unit is like having a second walk-in closet. Like other units, if you pack strategically, you can fit a lot more belongings.
Small 5×5 units are ideal for the following items:
- Halloween costumes
- Birthday party supplies
- Stuffed animals
- Home decor and knick-knacks
- China and glassware
- Winter coats
- Tapestries and rugs
- Rock collections
- Old vintage toys
- Pet carriers
5×5 storage spaces are great for items you don’t need in the house but can’t bear to give away. However, if you’re storing breakables, you’ll need to purchase bubble wrap or other packing materials. You could also wrap your items in old bedsheets.
If you’re storing delicate items, like antiques or art, you’ll need a climate-controlled unit. Many units already have minimum climate control. However, old paintings and furniture are vulnerable to moisture damage.
Research the best conditions for antiques before renting a space. Prepare to pay more for special climate-control features, as well.
Storing Large vehicles
What if you need even more space for your car, boat, jeep, or jet ski?
Thankfully, you can rent much larger storage spaces, like 15×35 units or 15×50 storage spaces.
Similar to valuable antiques, vehicles require climate control to avoid damage. As such, these large, climate-controlled spaces have high costs. If you’re planning on renting a large unit, look for a discount.
If you want to learn about discounts for climate-controlled vehicle storage, see more here. Providers may offer a free month of storage or other special offers.
Large 15×35+ units are ideal for car collectors. If you show cars professionally, you can avoid having a single scratch. Poor humidity control also damages car interiors.
If you’re planning to ship a car, it’s good to have a large storage unit waiting at the destination, as well. If you’re not planning on driving the car, it’ll be exposed to damage if left outside.
Did you inherit a car from your family? This is another reason to rent a vehicle storage unit. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the car.
There may be city ordinances that prohibit owners from abandoning cars on the curb. If your inherited car breaks down over time, the city may deem it a hazard. Complaints from neighbors don’t help, either.
If you buy a vintage car, you should definitely rent a storage unit if you don’t have adequate garage space.
Boats also need large, climate-controlled storage units. They’re just as susceptible to weather damage. Unless you have a large garage, you’ll need to rent a storage unit anyway. Most boat owners only use their boats in spring and summer.
One large storage unit can hold multiple jet skis, powerboats, rafts, dingy boats, and other water sports equipment. You’ll need a large self-storage unit for that party pontoon boat, too!
There’s Been a Death in the Family
Was there a recent death in the family? Have you inherited multiple belongings, including a house? Are you charged with managing the estate?
There are so many questions to consider when handling an estate. Fortunately, self-storage units make the process much easier.
If you’re suddenly gifted with a surplus of belongings, you could rent a storage unit to cut down on stress. It can take weeks or even months to sift through old belongings. Many grandparents aren’t big fans of downsizing, either!
Among these belongings may be highly valuable items. You don’t want these items damaged in the process. Immediately separate any valuable antiques from the pack for safekeeping. Remember the tip about climate control too.
Like college students, you may want to start with a simple 10×5 unit. While this may not be enough space, it’s a good start as you organize items. You can always upgrade to a larger space at any time.
Did you inherit an entire house? You’re probably overwhelmed with your new mountain of belongings.
Think back to the sizes discussed in this article. Your needs are similar to homeowners who are moving. You’ll need at least four rooms’ worth of space in the beginning.
If you’re inundated with old items, you may have to get a 10×25 and downsize after the estate sale.
Self-Storage Tips for Estate Sales
Estate sales are a much larger job than garage sales. You’re dealing with a lot more stuff. Plus, many of these items are highly valuable.
Collectors, gallery owners, eBay sellers, and antique shop owners regularly frequent estate sales. So, expect a large showing! As such, the best items will go first.
Price your items accordingly. Do your research and understand market rates for antiques. It doesn’t hurt to see an appraiser, as well.
Store highly valuable items in climate-controlled storage units.
Here are several valuable items to store:
- Antique wood furniture (mid-century to earlier)
- Valuable designer jewelry
- Vintage designer clothing
- Antique home decor (Tiffany lamps, etc.)
- Crystals and semi-precious stone collections
- Specimen collections and taxidermy
- Museum-quality items
- Valuable paintings
- Highly valuable antique books
Did you inherit any local historical heirlooms or artifacts? See if your local museums would be interested in exhibiting these items.
Once all the valuable items are gone, you’ll be left with less valuable items. At this point, you can downgrade to a smaller storage unit. You won’t need any special climate-controlled features either.
Post-Estate Sale Storage Tips
You can sell the rest of your items at a local garage sale. However, be prepared to part with items for just $5 or less!
Here are several items to include in your estate garage sale:
- Old magazine collections
- Old toys from the 80s and 90s
- Empty wooden boxes and chests
- Chairs, lawn chairs, dining room chairs, etc.
- Old computers, game consoles, and monitors
- Unwanted clothes (not vintage)
- Other wall art and decor (not antique)
After everything is gone, you can downsize to an easy-breezy 5×5 foot storage unit!
However, you’ll need to sell the house if you’re not planning on living in it. Many homeowners who inherit houses sell them “as is,” which means they don’t have to renovate the house first. You simply sell it for cash.
If you sell the inherited home “as is,” you can keep the furniture inside the house. However, there’s no guarantee that new homeowners will want your old furniture. Luckily, you sell it at an estate sale, garage sale, or a used furniture outlet.
More Self-Storage Unit Sizing Tips
You never know what the future holds. A self-storage unit can come in handy when you least expect it.
What if you’re dealt with a sudden divorce? What if you need to move with little notice?
You may feel pressured to leave belongings behind in a rush. So many things get lost in the shuffle during a move. Plus, it’s hard to plan a move when you’re dealing with a major life change.
Luckily, you can enjoy the peace of mind of a self-storage unit. Self-storage spaces are literally built to store your entire life. For a low monthly cost, you can always have a unit by your side.
Are you starting a new business?
You can store an entire office in one storage unit. You only need a 5×5 unit for all of your office equipment.
Small storage units are great for home-based business owners who need to move quickly.
Discover the True Benefits of Self-Storage
Don’t overcomplicate your life. Let your self-storage unit handle the clutter for you.
Remember these tips as you choose and pack your storage unit. You could always have a unit on hand for safety and security.
More tips are on the way. Do you have all of your life essentials? Follow the blog for more!
- About the Author
Abigail Bassey is an interior design and lifestyle enthusiast & blogger with over 5+ years of experience in writing and editing. She takes pleasure in helping people achieve their dream homes.