The term “self storage” is short for “self-service storage”, and is also known as “mini storage”. Self storage facilities lease space to individuals, usually storing household goods, or to small businesses, usually storing excess inventory or archived records.
Today, more than 50,000 self storage facilities, owned by 30,235 companies, have been developed in the United States on industrial and commercial land parcels. There is more than 2.35 billion square feet of self storage in the U.S., or a land area equivalent to three times Manhattan Island under roof. The five large publicly traded storage operators (four REITs and U-Haul) own or operate approximately 9% of self storage facilities. More recently, in many metropolitan cities where competition among storage companies is fierce, better parcels of land near residential and commercial areas are being converted into self-storage once approved by zoning panels.
Self storage businesses lease a variety of unit sizes to residential and business customer/tenants. Popular unit sizes include 10×5 (10 feet wide by 5 feet (1.5 m) deep) which is about the size of a large walk-in closet, 10×10 (the size of a child’s bedroom), 10×20 (one-car garage), 15×20 and 20×20 (two-car garage). The storage units are typically windowless, walled with corrugated metal, and lockable by the renter. Chain-link fencing or wire mesh may function as a more secure ceiling than a suspended ceiling. Each unit is usually accessed by opening a roll-up metal door, which is usually about the same size as a one-car garage door.
Climate Controlled Storage Units
Climate-controlled interior units are becoming more popular. In urban areas many facilities have multi-story buildings using elevators or freight lifts to move the goods to the upper floors. These facilities are often climate-controlled since they have mostly, if not all, interior units. Warehouses or grocery stores are sometimes converted into self storage facilities. Loading docks are sometimes provided on the ground floor. Also, complimentary rolling carts or moving dollies are sometimes provided to help the customers carry items to their units. Urban self storage facilities might contain only a few floors in a much larger building; there are successful self storage businesses cohabitating with light manufacturing, office tenants and even a public school.
According to the “Self Storage Demand Study – 2007″ (published by the SSA) one in ten U.S. households now rent a self storage unit. The growing demand for self storage in the U.S. is created by people moving (some 40 million Americans move each year according to U.S. Census data), and by various lifestyle transitions, such as marriage, divorce, retirement, a death in the family, etc.
Self Storage Facts
- The self storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 35 years
- There are now approximately 50,,000 “primary” self storage facilities in the United States as of year end 2009; another 4,000 are “secondary” facilities (“primary” means that self storage is the “primary” source of business revenue – US Census Bureau)
- There are approximately 58,000 self storage facilities worldwide as of Q4 – 2009; there are more than 3,000 in Canada and more than 1,000 in Australia.
- Total self storage rentable space in the US is now 2.22 billion square feet (as of Q4-2009) [approximately 210 million square meters]. That figure represents more than 78 square miles of rentable self storage space, under roof – or an area well more than 3 times the size of Manhattan Island (NY)
- U.S. self storage facilities pay a total of more than $3.0 billion in property taxes to local government jurisdictions.
- The distribution of U.S. self storage facilities (Q4-09) is as follows: 32% urban, 52% suburban and 16% rural
- Nearly 1 in 10 US households (HH), or 10% (10.8 million of the 113.3 million US HH in 2007) currently rent a self storage unit; that has increased from 1 in 17 US HHs (6%) in 1995 – or an increase of approximately 65 percent in the last 15 years
- At year-end 1984 there were 6,601 facilities with 289.7 million square feet (26.9 million square meters) of rentable self storage in the U.S. At year end 2009, there are approximately 46,000 “primary” self storage facilities representing 2.21 billion square feet
- Nationally, at year-end 2009 all self storage facilities employed approximately 160,000 persons, or an average of 3.2 employees per facility
- The average (mean) size of a “primary” self storage facility in the US is approximately 46,200 square feet
- There is a self storage space inventory of 19.2 sq.ft. per U.S. household
- There is 7.0 sq.ft. of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation; thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand – all at the same time – under the total canopy of self storage roofing
- More than 700,000 self storage units nationwide are rented to military personnel (4% of all units); however, in communities adjacent to domestic US military bases military occupancy can be from 20%-95% of all rented units
- Self Storage owners value military personnel as self storage customers and traditionally extend special incentives and discounts to those with a valid military ID card, such as: 10%-30% discounts off rental rates, free months of rent, gift certificates, free use of moving truck, “one-dollar move-ins,” no rent increases while deployed overseas, waiver of security deposits, administration fees, etc.
- It took the self storage industry more than 25 years to build its first billion square feet of space; it added the second billion square feet in just 8 years (1998-2005)
- During the peak development years (2004-2005) 8,694 new self storage facilities (approximately 480 million square feet of space were added)
- Gross square footage of self storage “per capita” in the US (at the state level) ranges from 1.60 to 18.65 square feet
- 83.9 percent of all US counties (or 2,634 out of 3,141) have at least one “primary” self storage facility