Are There Smaller Storage Unit Sizes?

By Patrick Galvan,

One of the most common questions self storage tenants ask is: How much space do I really need? Since you don’t want to pay for unnecessary storage space, the goal is picking out a unit size large enough to accommodate your possessions but small enough to give you your money’s worth. If you’re storing only a few small items, the smallest standard unit size, 5×5, sounds like a viable option. But did you know some facilities offer storage unit sizes that are even smaller than a 5×5?

While 5×5 is the smallest standard size offered by most storage providers, a few facilities do offer units as small as 3×5 (that is, 15 square feet). “A 3×5 would be about the size of a broom closet,” says Jen Gindele, Site Manager of STORExpress in Pittsburgh, Pa. Some facilities in big cities may even have locker-sized units, which are even smaller. But Gindele stresses the importance of recognizing that most storage providers won’t have these sizes, as they’re not standard.

What You Can Store in a Unit Smaller Than 5×5

Since units smaller than a 5×5 are no bigger than a small closet, you’ll want to use them like you would a small closet. In essence, you can use it as a second closet and clear out clutter from a closet at home. Then, any small odds and ends that you don’t use often can be moved into your storage unit.

Do you have a tub full of winter coats, scarves, boots, and gloves? Since you only use these items one season each year, you don’t need them taking up space the rest of the year. Storing seasonal clothing (and swapping them out when appropriate) means the closet space you have in your apartment or house can be reserved for things you’ll use immediately.

Gindele adds, “All [self storage units] are usually eight feet tall or higher, so [tenants] can stack their belongings.” In other words, you can store more items in these smaller units by stacking boxes and storage containers. Just make sure the storage containers fit and don’t contain anything fragile, or they could get damaged.

What You Can’t Store in a Unit Smaller Than 5×5

Obviously, because these units are so much smaller, items like furniture won’t fit. Even if you think you can make them fit, it’s not a good idea to cram items into the space (This is true even with larger storage units). Having items smashed together with no free space can lead to damage, especially when you go to take the items out of the unit again.

Other items you shouldn’t store are things of a flammable nature, which self storage facilities don’t allow anyway. “We tell [tenants] they cannot store flammables,” says Gindele. That includes propane tanks, kerosene lamps, and fireworks because these are easily combustible and could lead to a fire. Always be sure to ask your storage operator what items they don’t allow in their units, as many have rules about storing liquids, firearms, and other items that are liabilities.

In most situations, a 5×5 unit is adequate space for storage. But if you need even smaller storage space and can find a facility that offers it, something like a 3×5 or a storage locker can satisfy your storage needs.