Packing up your stuff and moving out is an easier chore for residents of one-bedroom apartments than it is for those living in large homes. Even so, a bit of preparation is still needed, and a self storage unit helps you throughout the moving process.

One of the prerequisites of using this service at its full potential is knowing the right unit size you need for your stuff. Renting a self storage unit that’s too large for your needs wastes money, while a unit that’s too small makes it hard to organize and store things properly.

Here’s how to estimate your storage space needs for a one-bedroom apartment when moving:

The first step for finding out what storage unit size you need is to take a thorough inventory of your belongings. Most people living in a one-bed home will be able to pack and store their stuff in a 5×10 storage unit or in a 10×10 unit, depending on how much they actually own. Let’s see which one is the best for you based on the belongings you need storing:

1. What type of bed and mattress are you planning to store?

Your bed and mattress will probably take up the most space in your storage unit. The 5×10 unit might be large enough for a full or queen-size mattress, particularly if you don’t have a lot of extra furniture and appliances. However, there’s another factor to consider: the only way you can store the mattress in this type of unit and still have some space left for other items will be upright. Although storing it upright is fine for a short period of time, until your new home is ready, it’s not a good idea to keep your mattress in this position for months.

The right way to store a mattress long-term is to lay it flat, without any weight on top of it. So, if you have a large bed and mattress and you are planning to store for longer than a couple of months, you should rent a 10×10 storage unit. This unit size allows you to store your large mattress, bed, and other furniture properly without damaging them.

2. Do you own a sofa, and how big is it?

The next large piece of furniture that takes up space in your storage unit is the sofa. A standard three seat sofa is typically about 7 feet long and 3 feet deep, so you can fit it in a 5×10 unit – however, there won’t be a lot of space left for other furniture and appliances.

In case you also want to also store large appliances, such as a fridge, bedroom furniture, plus boxes of clothes, books, and other items, you’ll most likely need the 10×10 unit.

3. Can you disassemble your furniture?

If the furniture you have around the house – shelves, desk, nightstands – can be disassembled, you’ll be able to fit everything in a smaller, 5×10 unit. However, if you have massive pieces of furniture that you can’t take apart, you should measure the width and length for each one and calculate the total area the furniture and appliances occupy. Don’t forget that you also need some extra space in the unit, to be able to actually fit your belongings inside and reach them when needed.

For example, if all your furniture, put together, occupies 40 square feet of space, you could fit it in a 5×10 unit. However, if you have multiple boxes beside the furniture, and considering that you can’t put stuff on top of certain items, such as electronics or mattresses, you might be better off with a larger, 10×10 unit.

Generally speaking, it’s preferable that large pieces of furniture don’t take more than 50% of 60% of the storage unit’s total area. Otherwise, putting them in and taking them out turns into almost an impossible mission and there are increased chances of damaging your belongings in the process.

4. Stuff that needs more space in your unit than you would think

When calculating how much self storage space you need, it’s important to consider not only the total volume of your belongings but also how certain items should be stored. Kitchen appliances, electronics and electric tools can be easily damaged by piling other stuff over them, so it’s important not to. Also, if you’re planning to perch them on top of your furniture, you must be careful about the risk of those delicate items falling over and breaking.

Other delicate items, such as artwork, collections, or antiques, also require more space than your usual clothes, books and so on. You can’t stack them or simply put them on the floor – instead, you must ensure they don’t touch anything that might cause damages. In other words, it’s essential that you have enough space in your unit to arrange everything properly.

5. How many boxes of stuff do you have?

Don’t focus only on the big items you must store, such as furniture and appliances. You’ll also have plenty of boxes with clothes, kitchenware, books, shoes, and miscellaneous items. Most self storage units come with an 8-foot ceiling, which means that a 5×10 storage unit has 400 cubic feet of storage space. The average large moving box, on the other hand, has a volume of approximately 5 cubic feet. Assuming you’ll be needing around 20 large moving boxes, plus an assortment of small and medium ones, which is really a conservative estimate, it means that about half of the 5×10 storage unit will be occupied by boxes. Plan accordingly, and get a larger unit if you also have multiple pieces of furniture.

To conclude, the 5×10 storage unit could be big enough when moving out of a one-bedroom home, but only if your furniture and other belongings are on the minimalistic side. If you are planning to store both a sofa and a large bed with mattress, plus smaller furniture and boxes with stuff, it’s better to rent a 10×10 unit.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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