Storage Mistake #4: Choosing the Wrong Sized Unit

The classic fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, teaches a lesson all too common in the storage »”>self storage industry. You don’t want to rent a self storage unit that is too small, or one that is too large. Instead, you need a unit that is “just right!”

Too Small!

It is our experience that most people new to the world of self storage underestimate the amount of space they need, and wind up renting a unit that is too small for all of their belongings. We find this decision is generally driven by a desire to keep their monthly rate as low as possible. Sure, nobody wants to pay more each month than they absolutely need to, however there are some significant “down-sides” to renting a unit that is too small.

There is little worse for a new renting tenant of self storage than to find your new storage unit “filled to the brim”, and still have a quarter of your moving truck loaded with items meant to be put in storage. And the common response is to “force” as much in the too-small unit as possible. This can cause significant problems in the future.

Attempting to force too much into a storage unit can have serious consequences down the road.

  • Over-stuffing a unit can lead to broken and damaged items over time, especially if you find yourself accessing the unit often, and moving and jostling the items in order to find what you’re looking for.
  • An over-stuffed unit restricts air flow, greatly increasing the chance that trapped moisture will cause mold and mildew.
  • With no space to move around inside the unit, you’ll find yourself angry and frustrated when you have to remove several items from a storage unit just to reach a small item in the back, especially if it is raining and the driveway is the only place to temporarily place your items.

Too Large!

Conversely, there is the risk to overestimate the space you need and rent a storage unit that is too large for your needs. This ends up costing more money every month that could have instead been saved with careful planning.

Just Right!

So how do you decide on a unit size that is “just right”? A little pre-planning ahead of time and asking for guidance from the storage manager will allow you to zero-in on the perfect size.

  1. First, make an accurate list of what you will be storing. List large and small furniture, appliances, bedding sets with mattresses, and entertainment centers. For the boxes, estimate the number and sizes of boxes you’ll be storing and calculate their total volume, adding about 20 percent as a “cushion.”
  2. Second, with this information, consult with your storage manager. They work with these issues day-in and day-out. They will generally be able to provide an accurate suggestion for the proper unit size.
  3. Third, plan ahead, allowing for a little extra space to provide adequate and organized walk-ways inside the storage unit. Making small ‘hallways’ in and around your items and boxes will both help with proper air-flow (reducing the risk that moisture will get trapped), and it will lessen your frustration level every time you need to access your unit.
  4. Finally, maximize your use of space by careful packing and stacking of the unit contents. Once again, the storage manager can provide tips and tricks for stacking, packing and “inter-packing” of items inside of other items. And this Guide offers “15 Little-Known Packing Tricks” elsewhere on this site.


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