Choosing the right size storage unit or portable container is all about finding the sweet spot that keeps you from paying for more space than you need and running out of room after you’ve already loaded most of your stuff. How do you manage that? This guide offers tips, tools, and a handy chart to help you figure it out.
WHAT SIZE STORAGE UNIT DO I NEED?
While it’s hard to visualize how much space you’ll need, most people are pleasantly surprised at the amount of stuff they can pack into a self-storage unit or portable storage container. That’s because most storage units can be loaded vertically to the full 8-foot height. You also arrange the contents differently than you would a typical room or closet.
Answering these questions will help you determine how much space you need:
- What do I plan to store? Start by taking an inventory. Use a measuring tape to note dimensions of your larger items, estimate the number of boxes, and consider items that don’t have a regular shape and can’t be stacked, like floor lamps and lawn equipment.
- How much access will I need? In addition to the size and amount of stuff you want to store, factor in how you’ll be using the storage space and how much access you’ll need. For example, if the storage is part of a move and you won’t need access to your stuff between homes, then you can load your storage unit to the max. But if you’ll need to periodically get things out of storage, then you may want to allow room for an aisle, so you don’t have to unload half your stuff just to find what you need. On the other hand, if you only need access to a few things, you can plan your loading strategically. Load the items that you expect to need last, so you’ll have easy access.
- How much driveway or outdoor space do I have? If you’re considering using a portable storage container, it’s important to determine how much room you have for placement. Depending on your space, you can choose a container company that offers small, medium, or large containers, as well as the option to stage delivery one at a time, especially if the storage is part of moving a large household.
- What if I’m not sure what storage unit size I need? If you’re worried about running out of space, find out how much the next larger storage size costs. While you want to avoid paying for more space than you need, the cost difference between storage unit sizes is often so small that it may be worth the extra peace of mind. Another strategy, especially if you think there’s a good chance you’ll need more than the largest size available, is to use portable containers. Depending on the container company, you can arrange delivery so that you only pay for what you use. For example, with PODS, you can reserve multiple containers but stagger the deliveries, so you load one container before you have the next unit delivered. If you end up not needing the second or third container, PODS allows you to cancel the order and get a full refund up to 24 hours before the delivery.
WHAT SIZE DO YOU NEED? COMPARING CONTAINERS, STORAGE UNITS AND RENTAL TRUCKS
This chart helps you estimate the size portable container, storage unit, or rental truck you need based on your home’s square footage. (We’ve included rental trucks because you’ll need a way to haul your stuff if you’re not using a portable container.) When considering square footage, don’t forget to include any area that has stuff you’ll be loading into the unit, such as your garage, attic, basement, and patio. Keep in mind that these are estimates; how much you can fit in a space will vary depending on furniture size, how heavily your home is furnished, and packing and loading technique.
|HOME SIZE /|
|Less than 400 SF|
Small Studio Apt
|7’||5′ X 10′||Cargo Van or|
Studio/1 BR Apt
|7′ or 12′||5′ X 10′ or|
10′ X 10′
|10′, 15′ or 16′|
1 to 2 BR Apt
|16′||10′ X 15′||15′ or 16′|
2 BR Apt/Home
|Single 16′ or |
16′ + 7′
|10′ X 15′ or |
10′ X 20′
|15′ or 16′|
2-3 BR Apt/Home
|Single 16′ or|
16′ + 7′
|10′ X 15′ or|
10′ X 20′
|15′, 16′ or 18′|
3 BR Apt/Home
|16′ + 7′ or|
|10′ X 20′ or|
10′ X 25′
|20′, 22′ or 26′|
4 BR Home
|Two 16′||10′ X 30′||26′ (may take|
4-5 BR Home
|Two 16′ + 7′ or|
|10′ X 30′ (may|
|Multiple trips or|
5-6 BR Home
|Three 16′||10′ X 30′ plus||Multiple trips or|
per 1,000 SF
|10′ X 30′ plus||Multiple trips or|
* Remember that this container matrix is an estimate only. Larger items and how efficiently the container is loaded will significantly impact the required size and quantity of containers, storage units, and rental trucks.
matching home size to storage space: another look
Some people like charts; others prefer lists. Whether you’ve got a small studio, two bedroom apartment, or three bedroom home, this guide will help you figure out what size moving or storage container, storage unit, or truck you need. Each unit has a height of about 8 feet.
Small Studio Apartment (estimated 300-500 square feet)
- PODS Container Size: 7 ft. X 7 ft.
- Storage Unit Size: 5 ft. x 10 ft.
- Rental Truck Size: Cargo Van or 10 ft. Truck
Studio or 1 Bedroom Apartment (estimated 600 square feet)
- PODS Container Size: 7 ft. X 7 ft. or 12 ft. X 8 ft.
- Storage Unit Size: 5 ft. x 10 ft. or 10 ft. x 10 ft.
- Rental Truck Size: 10 ft. or 12 ft.
1-2 Bedroom Apartment (estimated 800 square feet)
- PODS Container Size: 12 ft. X 8 ft. or 16 ft. X 8 ft.
- Storage Unit Size: 10 ft. x 15 ft.
- Rental Truck Size: 15 ft. or 16 ft.
2-3 Bedroom Apartment/Home (estimated 1,000 square feet)
- PODS Container Size: 16 ft. X 8 ft. or 16 ft. X 8 ft. and 7 ft. X 8 ft.
- Storage Unit Size: 10 ft. x 15 ft. or 10 ft. x 20 ft.
- Rental Truck Size: 15 ft. or 16 ft.
3 Bedroom Home (estimated 1,600 square feet)
- PODS Container Size: 16 ft. X 8 ft. and 7 ft. X 8 ft. or Two 16 ft. X 8 ft.
- Storage Unit Size: 10 ft. x 20 ft. or 10 ft. X 25/30 ft.
- Rental Truck Size: 20 ft., 22 ft. or 26 ft.
4+ Bedroom Home (2,000 square feet and up)
- PODS Container Size: Estimate one 16 ft. X 8 ft. for every 1,000 sf.
- Storage Unit Size: 10 ft. X 25/30 ft. plus additional space as needed.
- Rental Truck Size: For larger homes, you may need to make multiple trips or use other options like portable containers or full-service movers.
What are PODS container sizes?
If you’re in the process of deciding if you want to use a moving and storage container vs. a self-storage unit, you’d probably like to know more details about the three sizes PODS offers. Here’s a summary of what you can expect to fit in each container size, plus how they compare to self-storage units and rental trucks. (Sorry to be like a broken record, but remember that you may be able to fit more or less in your container, as larger items and loading technique will have a significant impact.)
What fits in a 16’ X 8’ PODS container?
PODS’ 16’ X 8’ container is our largest and most popular size for local and long-distance moves as well as storage, holding the contents for up to a 1,200 square foot space.
- Fits contents from a 1 to 2-bedroom apartment or small home (3 to 4 rooms).
- A practical solution for moves requiring temporary storage.
- Here’s an example of what typical household items fit in the 16’ X 8’ container: King-size bed, 2 twin beds, 2 dressers, 2 bookshelves, dining table with 6 chairs, sofa, coffee table and 2 end tables, entertainment center, TV, desk with chair, several lamps and pictures, washer and dryer, 2 bikes, and up to 60 boxes in a range of sizes.
- Comparable to a 10’ X 15’ self-storage unit or a 20’ rental truck.
What fits in a 12′ X 8′ PODS container?
This mid-size container will handle local moves and storage for up to an 800 square foot space.
- Fits contents from 2 to 3 rooms.
- Available for local moves or storage only.
- Handy for keeping items close by in on-site storage during remodeling projects.
- Comparable to a 10′ X 10′ self-storage unit or 15′ rental truck.
- Here’s an example of what typical household items fit into the 12’ X 8’ container: King-size bed, twin bed, 2 dressers and bookshelves, dining table with 4 chairs, small sofa, arm chair, coffee table, entertainment center and TV, small desk and chair, a few lamps, pictures and mirrors, 1 bike, and multiple boxes of household contents.
What fits in a 7′ X 7′ PODS container?
The smallest PODS container available will store items for up to a 600 square foot space.
- Fits contents for 1 room.
- Practical for college students, apartment residents, or people looking to downsize.
- Comparable to a 5‘ X 10‘ self-storage unit or 10‘ rental truck.
- Here’s an example of what typical household items fit into the 7’ X 7’ container: King-size bed, dresser, bookshelf, dining table with 4 chairs, small sofa, a few lamps, pictures and mirrors, TV, bike, and multiple boxes of household contents.
Use a moving and storage calculator to estimate how much space you need
If you like working with online tools, you can drill down even further by using this moving and storage calculator to get a more detailed estimate for which size PODS container or combination of containers you should choose based on your specific stuff. Like a virtual loading machine, it allows you to select furniture pieces room by room, number of boxes by size, and other common household and recreational items that you plan to store or move. As you add items, the tool shows the container filling up by percentage, so you get a sense of when you might have space to spare or be maxing out and need a second or third container.
HOW TO PACK AND LOAD TO MAXIMIZE STORAGE SPACE
As you use this guide, remember that the sizes of your specific belongings and how you pack and load will make a big impact on how much you can fit in a space. No worries. We’ve got plenty of advice on that, too. To learn how to pack and load like a pro, see our packing and loading tips and video and check out this article on Zen and the Art of Packing. Get an online estimate or learn more about PODS storage containers that can be kept on your property or at a secure indoor storage facility by visiting storage solutions.