How To Get the Most Out of Self-Storage

Written by: Editorial Team - Published: Jun 21, 2024


According to Angi, most self-storage units cost somewhere between $20 to $450 per month. While the higher end of that range includes vehicle storage, even units that are too small to store vehicles can cost as much as $200 per month. In this guide, we’ll show you how to lower the cost of your self-storage solution by reducing the amount of space you need.


Top 10 Ways to Maximize Your Storage Space

There are many factors that determine the cost of self-storage, including:

  • Location – generally, more urban facilities are more expensive
  • Features – climate control, on-site security personnel, 
  • The fluctuating relationship between demand and availability – if there are few self-storage options in your area, you can expect prices to quickly rise whenever there’s a spike in demand

The most important factor, though, is unit size. Self-storage providers will charge you more for larger units than smaller ones. Angi also reports that for an average unit, a 10×15 unit costs $100 to $200,  a 10×10 unit costs $80 to $160, and a 5×10 unit costs $35 to $60 per month. 

Let’s say you start out looking for storage space assuming you need a 10×15 unit. Based on the midpoints of these ranges, each month you’d be able to save about $30 if you could manage to downgrade to a 10×10 unit or $100 if you could downgrade to a 5×10 unit. You may be able to save even more depending on which provider you use. Reducing your storage needs by 50 or 100 square feet might sound difficult, but you will likely find that it’s feasible with the help of the following space-saving strategies.

1. Consider throwing away or donating items you don’t need

If something isn’t useful enough to have in your home, is it worth keeping? This is a question that is good to ask yourself about every item you initially plan to store in your unit. Once you have the cost of storage on your mind, you may be surprised by how many items you’re willing to get rid of. 

2. Consider storing particularly large items somewhere else

Are you planning to store any large items, such as a mattress, sofa bed, or vehicle? These items may be too expensive to just throw out or give away, but consider whether there might be some storage solution other than putting them in your unit. 

For example, maybe you could let a friend borrow your sofa bed with the understanding that you’ll be taking it back once you have a place to put it. Such arrangements are an especially good option if you only need short-term storage, and they’ll allow you to save a significant amount of money on your self-storage unit. 

3. Think vertically

After you’ve gotten rid of any unnecessary items and found another solution for some of your largest items, you’ll be ready to start figuring out exactly how much storage space you need. As a general rule, throughout this process it is a good idea to think vertically. While storage unit sizes are usually listed by their square footage, you’ll actually have three dimensions to work with rather than just two. Many of the additional self-storage tips listed below will provide you with practical ways to take advantage of this principle. 

4. Map out your storage plan

Before you commit to a particular unit, map out your storage plan to make sure you can fit everything in the space. Graph paper is ideal for this, as the grid lines will help you keep everything in proportion. There are also free online design tools like Canva for this purpose. 

5. Add shelving

While you likely won’t be able to attach shelves to the wall of your unit, you can still use freestanding shelves to add more surface area for storage. The upfront cost of these shelves will need to be considered, but you will probably break even (and then some) if adding shelves allows you to rent a smaller self-storage unit. 

6. Use pegboards

Similar to shelves, pegboards are another addition that should be worth the initial cost if they can help you rent less space. This is a good storage device to use in combination with shelving. If your self-storage provider doesn’t allow you to drive screws or nails through any of the walls in your unit, you can find a pegboard that’s able to attach to the side of your freestanding shelves instead.  

7. Hang items from the ceiling

Bungee cords and s-hooks may allow you to hang items from the ceiling of your unit without the use of screws or nails. If you decide to hang any items, do so toward the back of your unit, as hanging items near the entrance can make other items harder to access. 

8. Store items inside other items

The fee for self-storage is based on area, not weight. If there are cavities inside any of your items, take advantage of that empty space and fill it with other items. For example, socks can be tucked inside shoes, and luggage can be filled with clothes.. 

9. Disassemble furniture

Assembled furniture also often features a lot of empty space. If you have furniture items that can be broken down and then put back together again later, disassembling them for now should allow you to save a lot of room in your storage space.

10. Store couches on end

Finally, if you weren’t able to find another solution for storing couches, standing them up on end will at least take up less space in your unit. Sofa beds may be too heavy to store in this position (and the foldable frame of the bed might not cooperate). But it should be easy enough to use this technique with standard couches as long as your unit is tall enough.