Baltimore is going through an economic revival driven by its traditional powerhouses – higher education, healthcare and biosciences – and by other factors, like the resurgence of the real estate market and an upsurge in tech startups.

The creation of new jobs and an increase in the median income in the metro-wide area, combined with Baltimore’s long-standing popularity as a higher studies destination for college students – all of that led to a tight self-storage vacancy in the metro-wide area.

The Changing Face of Baltimore

Large-scale real estate projects are changing the face of the city and are stimulating economic growth. Let’s take, for example, the massive $5.5 billion Port Covington waterfront redevelopment project. The first phase of this public-private partnership between the city of Baltimore and Port Covington developers, valued at about $700 million, started this spring and will create 1.3 million square feet of office space and almost 980,000 square feet of residential space.

The 2.7 million people living in the Greater Baltimore region are enjoying a dynamic job market, dominated by reputable employers. The region’s top three employers are Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Medical System and The University of Maryland Medical System. Also, Baltimore was ranked by Forbes as fifth on the list of emerging tech startup cities, after receiving $1 billion in venture capital investment over the past three years.

All of that translates to an addition of new jobs. Baltimore gained about 28,000 jobs in 2018, most of them in professional and business services and the health sector and is expected to add another 18,000 jobs in 2019. The unemployment rate, in June 2019, was in line with the national average, at only 3.8%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economic Growth Stimulates Self-Storage Demand, Pushes Prices to 4-Year High

The creation of higher-paying jobs increased Baltimore metro’s median household income by 3.1% in 2019; it encouraged the formation of 9,000 new households, and led to a 3% upsurge in retail for the third year in a row, according to a Marcus & Millichap study on the future of self-storage.

Under these circumstances, self-storage in Baltimore remains a hot commodity and the vacancy rate is below 9% for the fifth consecutive year. This trend will continue throughout 2019 in the entire metro area, due to suburban demand outpacing construction and the new supply of storage spaces in Baltimore being absorbed throughout the year. With a population of 600,000, the city of Baltimore serves no less than 135,000 students, another factor that puts pressure on self-storage vacancy rates.

The study mentioned above forecasts a self-storage vacancy rate of only 8.1% in the Baltimore metro by the end of this year. Tight vacancy allowed the average self-storage metro-wide rent to increase by 1.5% in 2019, reaching a four-year-high rate of $1.34 per square foot.

In an effort to respond to the growing demand for self-storage, developers are amping up their game, with more than 500,000 square feet of storage space expected to become available in the Baltimore metro in 2019. This comes after the self-storage industry added another 629,000 square feet of space in Baltimore metro in 2018, the largest annual total in 10 years.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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