Key takeaways:

  • Around a fifth of Americans (18%) rent storage and about a seventh (14%) plan to do so in the future
  • Increasingly, what most motivates people to use self storage is a lack of sufficient space at home, with 42% of renters stating this as their primary reason
  • Furniture is still the most commonly stored item
  • Storage of vehicles of all types rose to 9% from 6% last year, and no fewer than 13% say they plan to store vehicles in the future
  • Millennials increased their presence among storage renters from a fifth to a quarter of the total
  • Interest in self storage has increased in 77% of the country’s 138 cities, with online searches nearly tripling in Madison, WI
  • Searching for storage online is most intense in recent migration hotspots including Texas and Florida

Self storage is holding strong to its reputation as a valued service for Americans. After the pandemic-influenced bonanza years when the industry widened its customer base and enhanced its services, self storage has now entered a phase of stabilization. Although below its peak level in 2022, demand is still strong and operators are keen on catering to storage space needs. The total amount of new storage space delivered in 2023 reached 49.0 million square feet, a 15.6% increase compared to 2022’s new additions.

To see what’s currently driving the market and to identify the latest self storage trends, we asked nearly four thousand people about their storage requirements, in terms of both current usage and their plans for the future. We also looked at demands for storage around the country to get a regional perspective of the sector’s standing.

Overall, the numbers of US storage renters have eased a little since a year before, but they still stand at around a fifth of the population. Needing to declutter a home and to keep vehicles safe are both trending reasons for renting self storage. Interestingly, the customer base is getting younger, with the 24-39 year-old age group — the millennials, approximately speaking — increasingly interested in storage, almost half them either renting it or thinking about doing so in the future.

Demand for extra space stays strong with 1 in 5 people renting self storage

Self storage provides the extra space needed to cope with challenges such as moving home, sudden changes in household size, and repurposing living spaces to fulfil more roles – including home offices. It is also of immense help during home renovations and can keep RVs and other vehicles safe and secure between trips.

These benefits are what draw most people to self storage and have allowed the industry to keep on course even as rents cooled after the recent record highs. Among the survey’s respondents, 18% currently rent a storage unit and an additional 14% say they are planning to rent storage space away from home in the future, adding up to a third of Americans interested in the 1.7B+ square feet of storage space currently available.

Among those who are not using self storage, half state they have enough space at home — unsurprisingly, homeowners are a lot more likely to say this than renters. Pricing issues are cited by only 16% of respondents.

Millennials’ enthusiasm for self storage trends higher with Gen Xers also still avid users of the service

Last year, millennials already made up a fifth of storage renters but have now increased their share of all customers to a quarter of the total. Added to this are the 23% of them considering renting in the future, making a combined share of 47% who are interested in renting self storage, a dramatic jump from last year’s 35%.

Further emphasizing the increasing youthfulness of the sector’s customer base, 28% of this year’s survey respondents aged between 18 and 23 — that’s a large segment of the Gen Z kids — are either currently renting storage or are thinking about doing so, and this represents an increase from the combined total recorded in 2022. Meanwhile, the shares of respondents in the Gen X and boomer age groups either currently renting or intending to totals 41% and 37%, respectively.

10% of 56-to-74 year-olds — compared to almost nobody younger than 40 — say they rent extra space primarily due to changes in household size, suggesting they often open their doors to welcome relatives back home, increasing the trend for multigenerational living. Seniors aged 75 or above are now a slightly decreased 13% share of renters, but they are looking to return with 15% thinking about renting in the future.

Lack of space at home is increasingly the top reason to rent storage

Shrinking apartments sizes as well as the enduring enthusiasm for working from home put a strain on domestic living areas, making clutter even more of an issue. The average size of multifamily accommodation fell from 929 to 917 square feet over the last decade, a drop of -1.3%. And with the last four years' averages being below the current figure, a lot of smaller apartments have been added to the inventory recently.

It may then come as no surprise that interest in renting self storage due to limited living space is increasing. In last year’s survey, 40% of respondents said they rented storage because they didn’t have enough space at home, and that share rose to 42% this year. The square-footage costs of residential property make self storage an increasingly attractive way of getting some extra space — for that art studio you've always wanted, the home office or play area, or simply to make moving around easier.

Another current decluttering trend is the increasing number of people living in large homes who find they still don’t have enough space – increasing consumer spending may certainly be one of the culprits. More storage renters than before who benefit from having at least three bedrooms now rent storage to declutter — almost half at 47%. Added to this is the 26% of these large-home respondents who plan to rent storage in the future to create more living space, suggesting that living large is still possible for many.

Renting storage to assist with changes in household size, home renovation projects and downsizing have retained approximately the same shares of the total renters. Moving home, however, is the primary stated reason for storing that decreased most in popularity, selected by a third of survey respondents last year but only a quarter this year — this mirrors overall nationwide decreases in migration.

Millennials are more inclined than other generations to live in apartments, and only 45% say they have no problem with clutter compared to 59% of all respondents, driving the increase in demand for self storage from those aged 24 to 39.

Most common items in self storage: Furniture still the most popular but storing cars is on the rise

Furniture is still the item most commonly stored these days, with 29% of survey respondents citing this as their main reason for renting. The proportions of renters primarily storing either clothing or home appliances and equipment was the same, at 19%, while those storing sports items or hobby gear made up 9% of the total. Renting self storage for business purposes was a main motivation stated by 7% of survey respondents — an increase from the previous year.

One major change from last year is the increased demand for vehicle storage space. The combined share of people renting space for all types of vehicles — including cars, RVs and boats — stands at 9%, a year-over-year increase of 50%. Men are currently much more likely than women to store vehicles: 9% versus 4%. What is more, these numbers look to be trending even higher, with 13% of respondents saying they plan to store vehicles of all types in the future.

The reasons for increasing storage of vehicles includes the trend for RVing that accelerated in recent years when people preferred to vacation with close family members. In addition, self storage can be the ideal place for a car collection — the sales of vintage cars have also soared, tripling over the past decade — and climate controlled storage units protect elements such as leather and rust-vulnerable bodywork year-round from the weather.

Men rent larger units while women rent more small lockers

Women tend to rent smaller units more often than men. Twice as many of them, 14%, need no more space than a 5’x5’ locker, while 23% choose 5’x10’ storage units versus 21% of men. Possibly they still find themselves responsible for a lot of the home-decluttering tasks!

Men, meanwhile, rent larger storage units more often, with 15% going for the 10’x20’ size compared to 12% of women renters. These garage-size spaces are useful not only for keeping cars in but also for business purposes — such as for storing raw materials, equipment, stock and office supplies — providing greater flexibility than both office rentals and warehousing. The largest commonly found size, the 10’x30’ storage unit, was leased by 13% of men, more than double the number of women choosing it — however, with women increasing drawn to RVing, this gap may close in the coming years. Such units — plus the parking places at facilities — are often ideal for motorhomes and other large vehicles, keeping them safe and protected, and also off driveways away from the gaze of the local HOA!

Regular units increasingly preferred to those with climate control

With 55% of respondents renting regular units compared to only a third wanting climate control, the latter is still a specialized service — in fact, preference for it fell from 41% a year previously.

Renters of these two unit types are divided approximately equally among the age groups. Pennsylvania and Georgia are the states where climate control is most favored over regular units — and, unsurprisingly, weather-challenged Floridians also have a very strong preference for climate-controlled units, renting almost as many of them as regular units.

Future storage renters may declutter less but downsize more

Survey respondents stating they do not currently rent self storage but intend to do so in the future represent a preview of new directions the sector may take. Moving home is a consistently popular reason for needing storage, for a quarter of both current and future renters. However, future storage users plan to rent due to downsizing their homes more than before, a 11% share of them stating this as their main reason compared to 7% of current renters, which may also indicate an increased budget consciousness.

Interest in storage increases in enduringly popular migration destinations like Florida & Nevada, and triples in Madison, Wisconsin

For an up-to-date view on how enthusiasm for self storage differs regionally, we analyzed nearly 150 US cities with the highest volumes of Google searches over the latest 12 months and ranked them by how much they have changed since the previous year. Frequently, interest in storage is increasing most in places where the local population is on the rise.

Which US Cities Saw the Most Interest in Self Storage in 2023

RankCityY-o-Y Change (2023 vs. 2022)Searches per 1,000 Residents (2023)Sq. Ft. per CapitaSelf Storage Rate (10'x10' NCC) ($)Population Growth (2022 vs. 2020)
1Madison, WI199%16.44.161091.0%
2Oklahoma City, OK194%14.18.25771.7%
3Anchorage, AK184%26.16.47195-1.3%
4Reno, NV175%35.914.511183.2%
5Louisville, KY158%67.4689-1.3%
6Gainesville, FL157%30.97.311132.1%
7Henderson, NV156%15.46.241203.9%
8Pensacola, FL139%56.210.2685-1.1%
9Scottsdale, AZ104%15.88.021590.5%
10Omaha, NE100%107.0684-1.5%
11McKinney, TX93%147.46965.1%
12Milwaukee, WI92%7.33.6496-2.3%
13Nashville, TN89%76.56120-0.9%
14Mesa, AZ87%10.55.831051.3%
15Jacksonville, FL84%3.19.291042.1%
16Colorado Springs, CO82%25.610.821071.2%
16Killeen, TX82%15.68.96923.5%
18Tempe, AZ78%214.191112.4%
19Port St. Lucie, FL76%12.42.2510212.1%
20Fresno, CA69%4.57.021160.6%
21Eugene, OR68%16.47.051290.3%
21Charlotte, NC68%6.87.05992.6%
23Cleveland, OH67%8.12.27106-2.7%
24Bloomington, IN64%36.75.251170.1%
24Salt Lake City, UT64%25.13.341222.0%
24Plano, TX64%8.75.51981.1%
27San Luis Obispo, CA60%43.615.161642.5%
27Portland, OR60%8.44.3135-2.8%
29Winston Salem, NC58%9.67.031110.6%
30Seattle, WA57%7.53.81901.2%
31Boston, MA56%7.20.66171-3.1%
32Bakersfield, CA55%6.98.75921.3%
33Denver, CO53%11.53.39130-0.6%
34Las Vegas, NV51%257.261181.5%
34San Diego, CA51%8.73.92176-0.4%
36Baton Rouge, LA50%28.411.0295-2.1%
37Las Cruces, NM48%17.111.37782.0%
37Clearwater, FL48%16.84.84119-0.2%
39Lakeland, FL47%218.771065.4%
40Lubbock, TX46%15.615.94852.3%
40Frisco, TX46%10.13.921088.3%
40Chandler, AZ46%8.74.381211.2%
40Honolulu, HI46%5.52.79283-1.4%
44Fort Worth, TX44%4.66.12943.6%
45Tucson, AZ42%13.18.171090.7%
46Tulsa, OK41%98.9885-0.4%
47San Marcos, TX39%28.38.821123.2%
47Phoenix, AZ39%7.25.111172.0%
47Jersey City, NJ39%6.61.25218-1.8%
47Philadelphia, PA39%2.92.96135-2.1%
51Amarillo, TX38%12.211.64770.4%
51Oakland, CA38%5.72.44193-2.3%
53Marietta, GA35%39.15.71872.6%
53Corpus Christi, TX35%9.911.6699-0.6%
55Sioux Falls, SD34%157.65864.5%
56Boulder, CO30%22.56.11158-2.4%
56Riverside, CA30%12.25.71351.7%
56Minneapolis, MN30%6.71.95109-1.3%
59San Francisco, CA29%6.12.1264-7.1%
60Cape Coral, FL26%13.87.1415311.0%
60Fort Wayne, IN26%9.16.64951.3%
60New York City, NY26%3.32.37248-4.6%
63Spokane, WA24%10.57.261160.4%
63Raleigh, NC24%7.77.22912.6%
63Houston, TX24%5.96.72930.1%
66Oxnard, CA23%7.95.27157-0.9%
67Katy, TX22%150.36.739215.3%
67Fort Collins, CO22%26.17.78119-0.4%
69Los Angeles, CA21%2.91.8246-1.9%
70New Orleans, LA20%12.65.6119-3.5%
70Austin, TX20%12.47.911130.9%
72Fort Myers, FL19%44.910.311049.9%
73Elk Grove, CA18%10.83.931450.5%
74Round Rock, TX17%16.96.55945.1%
75Tallahassee, FL15%22.210.341081.9%
76Albuquerque, NM14%11.77.63101-0.7%
76Pittsburgh, PA14%8.43.461130.0%
78Modesto, CA13%8.56124-0.3%
78Dallas, TX13%8.25.16110-0.3%
78San Antonio, TX13%88.821082.3%
81El Paso, TX12%6.56.0395-0.2%
82Longmont, CO11%16.39.3142-0.5%
82Sacramento, CA11%14.84.91400.4%
84Tacoma, WA10%11.44.311390.9%
84Gilbert, AZ10%7.13.841102.3%
86Tampa, FL9%20.16.861122.6%
86Chula Vista, CA9%7.43.641791.1%
88Metairie, LA7%13.63.61681.1%
89Santa Fe, NM6%21.715.311361.5%
89San Jose, CA6%3.53.78168-3.8%
91Roseville, CA5%10.75.931274.3%
92Simi Valley, CA4%10.56.31200-1.5%
92Saint Louis, MO4%9.74.76101-4.6%
92Cincinnati, OH4%5.73.84960.0%
95Miami, FL3%17.63.681581.5%
96Pearland, TX2%20.55.48990.8%
96Santa Barbara, CA2%18.14.08278-1.3%
96West Palm Beach, FL2%17.46.391322.9%
96Atlanta, GA2%14.74.45138-0.1%
96Mesquite, TX2%12.83.4399-1.2%
96Cypress, TX2%6.87.3391-
96Chicago, IL2%4.33.32127-2.7%
103Ventura, CA1%13.77.11150-0.9%
103Pasadena, CA1%11.62.88224-3.0%
103Oceanside, CA1%10.43.12163-1.0%
103Virginia Beach, VA1%5.610.58107-0.9%
107Kennesaw, GA-1%48.35.17960.6%
108Orlando, FL-2%25.76.741042.7%
108Costa Mesa, CA-2%11.73.64229-2.0%
108Durham, NC-2%8.48.96992.7%
108Anaheim, CA-2%4.81.39184-0.8%
112Temecula, CA-3%13.77.31411.6%
112Rancho Cucamonga, CA-3%8.54.511571.0%
112Long Beach, CA-3%7.22.07187-3.0%
115Fort Lauderdale, FL-4%20.23.751270.1%
115Brandon, FL-4%11.33.6498-0.9%
115Salinas, CA-4%85.86194-1.4%
118Huntington Beach, CA-5%92.5178-2.1%
118Memphis, TN-5%47.9685-1.6%
118Baltimore City, MD-5%3.53.62116-2.3%
121Mission Viejo, CA-7%14.10.84165-1.8%
122Santa Clarita, CA-8%6.93.92190-2.9%
123Kissimmee, FL-10%20.45.871021.0%
123Baytown, TX-10%15.413.0986-1.2%
123Indianapolis, IN-10%3.96.7384-0.7%
126Irvine, CA-11%7.95.251531.5%
127Santa Rosa, CA-12%10.77.59175-0.4%
128Garland, TX-13%4.53.8393-1.9%
129San Bernardino, CA-18%5.93.1695-0.8%
130New Braunfels, TX-19%14.211.4410814.3%
131Moreno Valley, CA-24%7.64.281381.3%
132Tomball, TX-25%79.26.498810.2%
132Santa Cruz, CA-25%16.35.08191-1.7%
134Santa Ana, CA-26%3.21.58174-0.6%
135Worcester, MA-31%4.32.941260.1%
136Fontana, CA-32%6.23.481311.8%
137West Jordan, UT-33%7.63.7101-0.3%
138Greenwood, IN-49%13.83.31902.2%
Source: StorageCafe analysis of Google Ads and Yardi Matrix data

Southern residents often have access to plenty of self storage but still express increasing interest in the sector. In Florida, not only do Gainesville and Pensacola make the top 10, but residents of Jacksonville — the state’s largest city and already with an impressive storage inventory — are also not bored with storage, searching 84% more for it than in 2022.

Arizonans also wished to store more in 2023, with Mesa and Tempe joining Scottsdale in the top 20 of cities upping their interest in self storage. Nevada — another state with a rapidly expanding population — weighs in with demand for Reno self storage and Henderson self storage over the last 12 months generating more than two and a half times the numbers of searches than in the previous year. In addition, no US city’s residents searched more for car storage than Renoites.

Texas, like all the aforementioned states, has been a top-10 in-migration magnet for the decade — they all increased their populations by more than 10% between 2010 and 2020 according to US Census figures. The Lone Star State’s large storage inventories assist the many people moving in from other states.

Wisconsin might be considered the primary exception in terms of its cities’ interest in storage despite relatively stationary population levels, the state having a decade-long increase of only 3.64%. Both Madison and Milwaukee residents have a low storage provision of only around four square feet each — this may be triggering increased interest, with the former tripled their interest in self storage since the previous year.

Factors fueling the increased demand for storage seen in many US cities include shifts in working patterns and housing arrangements. The American Community Survey has calculated that in 2021 the number of people working from home was three times the number two years previously, rising to 17.9%, making homes more cramped and storage space harder to find there. Economic issues have also exacerbated this situation, with many youngsters having moved back home with their parents.

Interstate migration, which is at its highest in a decade, also significantly impacts storage demand. In 2022, approximately 8.2 million Americans undertook long-distance moves. States experiencing the largest influxes of people — particularly Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina and Georgia — are more likely to witness a surge in interest for self storage solutions.

From Hats & Wigs to Top Bikes & Cars, Plus Things in Ready for the Next New Arrival!

Furniture, clothing and household appliances may be the items most commonly put into storage units, but facility staff often have some much more interesting tales to tell! This year’s survey’s respondents kept up the industry’s fun traditions, saying they had put odd items in units ranging from jukeboxes and fancy cars to the ashes of favorite pets and a lot of items in readiness for the arrival of a new addition to the family.

Many Americans clearly still consider self storage a vital service — as do investors, who have retained considerable confidence in the sector. The reasons they rent increasingly include for storing vehicles and for decluttering their homes, though that may tail off as they better rationalize their possessions. Renting a storage unit still eases the process of moving home and downsizing looks to increasingly become a feature of storage renters’ lives, helping them deal with restricted living spaces and budgets. With 48.1M square feet of new storage space delivered in 2023, and more on the way, there should be no difficulty meeting the survey respondents’ changing requirements.

What the experts are saying

Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix
Doug Ressler, Business Intelligence Manager at Yardi Matrix

We've also spoke to Doug Ressler, business intelligence manager at Yardi Matrix, a real estate research firm and our sister company, to share his insights about the self storage service.

Self storage units are rented by a wide range of people for various reasons. Some of the most common motivations include moving, downsizing or decluttering a home, storing seasonal items and keeping business inventory.

Many self storage users are preparing for prime home ownership years or the addition of a roommate and may need extra space to store their belongings. Self storage facilities offer a variety of storage unit sizes, climate-controlled units, drive-up access and exceptional security features. If you’re looking to rent a self storage unit, it’s important to consider your specific needs and budget. You can start by researching different facilities in your area and comparing their prices and features. Once you’ve found a facility that meets your needs, you can reserve your storage unit online or by contacting the facility directly.


This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.

Our findings are based on a survey among 3,886 respondents in the United States that ran for a month on the, and websites.

The data for our analysis of self storage searches was obtained by extracting monthly-average numbers from Google Ads of nationwide searches using city-specific key phrases. This was carried out for 138 key cities in the U.S. over the course of 2023. Other city-specific key phrases were used to find numbers of searches for specialist storage unit types for cars, vehicles, RVs and boats.

Self storage street rate data was obtained from Yardi Matrix, StorageCafe’s sister division and a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self-storage sectors.

Fair use and distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.


Francis Chantree is a writer and editor for Yardi, focusing on real estate and lifestyle content. He is a former programmer and researcher who exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he can be found gardening and reading.

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