How to Make the Most of a Small Storage Unit

Jon Fesmire | Mar 18, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

You’ve decided that you need a self storage unit, and that a 5x5 should be just right. Since this is one of the smallest storage unit sizes, you’ll want to make the most of the space. This means two things: organizing well so that you can fit a lot in your unit, and making sure you can get to any particular item you need.

Here’s how to do it:

Use Same Size Boxes

By making your boxes are the same size, you ensure there’s not much wasted space. If you put down one big box, then a smaller box on top of it, and a smaller one on top of that, you’re creating a sort of pyramid, which is not the most efficient use of your unit.

If you decide to go with cardboard, we recommend document storage boxes. These are medium-sized, typically have handles, and are great for everything from books, to clothes, to dishes, and yes, to documents. Otherwise, we recommend going with strong, plastic bins that seal tightly. Get the same type, and they’ll stack and hold well. Either way, heavy boxes go on the bottom, lighter boxes on top.

Keep an Inventory

Before you start packing your boxes, get a set of labels, a pen, and a pad of paper. Whenever you’re ready to fill a new box, label it, then write the label name at the top of a new sheet of paper. As you fill the box, write down each item on the page. Later, put the information into a spreadsheet using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

These are the basics of keeping an inventory of your self storage unit. When you need to retrieve a specific book, shirt, or tool, and you don’t know which box it’s in, this will save you a lot of time.

Draw a Map

As you fill your unit, draw a map. Give each stack a number. Elsewhere on the page, write down which boxes are in each stack, by their labels. You can then take a picture of the map and upload it to your computer or cloud drive, where you keep the inventory.

Create a Walkway

It can be easy to stack boxes against the wall, then boxes right in front of them, and more boxes in front of them, but this will make it tough to get to items in the back. If the back items are things you know you won’t need to access until the next time you move, that’s fine. But if you might need to get to them, make sure you have a bit of a walkway down the middle.

Install Shelving

If you have certain boxes you know you will need to get to, and you’re not sure they can go high up safely, consider getting some shelves installed along one wall in your unit. If you want to do this, ask someone at the facility how to handle it. They may have shelving perfectly suited for their units that they can install for you. Otherwise, they’ll be able to recommend shelves that will work.

You can put items that you’ll know you need to get to quickly in boxes on those shelves. This may include your off-season wardrobe and other seasonal items.

Make sure your walkway is in front of the shelving.

Put Important Items Near the Door

If you decide not to use shelves, it’s still a good idea to make sure you can easily get to items you need semi-frequently. A great way to do that is to place those boxes near the door. That way, you can simply open your unit, grab the boxes you need, and go.

Finally, if even with these tips you find you need a larger unit, that’s all right. Most facilities make it easy to switch to a larger, or smaller, unit, depending on your needs.