If you’re storing a car for the winter, the answer is obvious: you need a space the size of a car. But most people rent storage units as a place to keep personal belongings or business records and inventory that they no longer have space for at home or place of work.
While there are some basic costs of a storage unit, like extra insurance coverage, climate-control or extended security, once you have chosen which self-storage facility you will use (especially its location), your monthly rental fee will depend more than anything else on the size of the unit you need.
The price range is such that choosing the wrong size can cost you hundreds of dollars a year or more. Small, basic outdoor units can be found in the GTA for less than $50 per month. A more standard 5 ft. by 10 f. (50 sq.ft.) unit will be at least double that, and, if you’re in downtown Toronto, you can pay almost $200 for the same space.
First, any reputable self-storage company will help you choose the right storage unit size and they will accommodate you if you actually need a larger or smaller unit after you store your belongings.
But if you’re just shopping around and not ready to talk to any one facility, there are more than a few ways to help you determine what unit size you need.
This point is number one for a reason. It’s like your secret weapon for getting more storage space for no extra cost. Storage units are priced according to floor space, or the depth and width of the unit. While many storage facilities have units that are of a standard height, some have much higher ceilings. You could get 30% more space from a higher ceiling. For no extra charge. So before you choose a facility, ask them what are the ceiling heights of their storage units.
Regardless of the ceiling height, many unit renters don’t take advantage of all the space above the floor. Doing so can be more or less difficult, depending on what you are storing. If your belongings are in boxes, they can easily be stacked to the ceiling, as long as they remain stable and don’t pose a danger to anyone (like you) in the storage unit. Even if you don’t have boxed items, it might be best to put them into boxes to make them easy to stack. Larger items that can support others should go in first so you can stack the other items on top. If your boxes aren’t strong enough to support the weight of other boxes on top, consider using a shelving system.
A big mistake many renters make is to pick a unit size that is big enough for their stuff, but not big enough to move around and easily get at the things they need. They end up unpacking (and then repacking) the unit every time they have to get something. If you have any expectation of at least occasionally needing things from your storage unit, consider leaving yourself at least some space for moving around the unit rather than packing it to the hilt. This might be particularly important if you need to get regular access to business records or inventory.
You don’t necessarily need enough space to walk around freely, but if you at least have an open corner within the unit, you could move items around as needed to get at what you need without completely unpacking the unit. Of course, if your storage items won’t be needed for a long time, pack that unit tight!
Again, a professional self-storage company will be happy to assist you with choosing the right unit, but even so, it never hurts to have a better idea of what you want before you shop around.