There are currently over 1.6 billion square feet of self storage in the United States. Out of this total inventory, 16% was delivered in just the last five years, despite material shortages, pandemic concerns and economic volatility. The industry has seen considerable growth as self storage proves to be not only a great solution for clients but also a resilient market for investors as well. Just look at the annual reports of the largest players in the field to see what a gold mine self storage has become.
Speaking of big players in self storage, it can sometimes be hard to visualize just how big they are. To see just how much space the self storage industry occupies, we have to get … weird! Here is the list of the biggest self storage facility owners in the U.S. by total square feet owned, and what that would look like if you got silly with the math.
Some of the astounding comparisons made here were calculated using Steven Wooding’s Weird Units Converter, where you can make all sorts of measurements using highly unusual units.
#10: Prime Storage
Prime Storage is a self storage company that focuses mostly on the eastern U.S., with some properties in Southern California and Seattle. It owns and/or manages about 200 self storage properties across 27 states, which adds up to a total of 12.5 million square feet, an area you could cover with about 215 million Post-it notes. It would take at least a couple of days though…
#9: Merit Hill Capital
With 234 self storage properties across 33 states, Merit Hill Capital doesn’t shy away from rapid expansion — in 2020 it was the single largest buyer of self storage properties in the U.S. Though based in Brooklyn, most of its square footage is focused around California, Texas and Florida. The company’s total of 15.6 million rentable square feet could be easily covered by about 2 million washing machines, enough to make anyone’s head spin.
StorageMart is one of the few on this list that has branched out to other countries as well, specifically Canada and the UK. The company made waves in 2021 when it bought Manhattan Mini Storage. The $3 billion purchase brought its total inventory to 20 million square feet. You could cover that entire area in 3.2 million standard pallets, enough to transport the weight of eight Golden Gate Bridges.
#7: Storage Asset Management
Another company that operates mostly on the East Coast, Storage Asset Management owns or manages over 442 self storage properties across 34 states. It has recently started looking at flex space as an investment as well, a trend that is becoming more widespread as people’s work and storage needs shift. The company’s inventory is made up of 181,131 self storage units totaling 26 million square feet — a surface that could be covered by about 4.5 billion pennies, if you can spare $45 million and you know a bank teller nice enough to count it out for you!
#6: National Storage Affiliates
With around 533,000 self storage units across 42 states (and notably Puerto Rico as well), National Storage Affiliates boasts a huge total inventory, and is looking for more. Two hundred of its 1,050 self storage properties were acquired just in 2021, bringing its total rentable square footage to a whopping 67.8 million square feet, or the equivalent of 600 million iPhone screens!
Probably the best-known name on this list is the California-based moving company that operates not only in the U.S. but in Canada as well. Its do-it-yourself approach to moving also translates wonderfully to storage — its fleet of hundreds of thousands of trucks and trailers is augmented by 876,000 storage units that add up to a total inventory of 75.1 million square feet, or the equivalent of 1.5 billion credit cards laid flat!
#4: Life Storage
Life Storage boasts 1,076 self storage properties in 35 states, mostly around the Southeast and Southwest. While that number may not sound as impressive when compared to previous entries, wait until you hear how much they add up to — 78.6 million rentable square feet, or, to put it simply, two entire Central Parks with a little room left over for RV storage.
The third spot is taken by CubeSmart, a self storage company that operates and/or owns 1,258 properties with over 848,000 storage units, with the bulk being centered around the Sun Belt as well as Chicago and New York City. Its total inventory measures 87.8 million square feet, and if that number makes you want to lie down for a minute, well it’s roughly equivalent to 2 million king-sized beds!
#2: Extra Space
The runner-up in our list is Extra Space, a company with over 2,000 properties in its portfolio. It is present in 41 states plus the District of Columbia. The company likes to keep a safe balance against volatility, with no single property being worth more than 1% of its total portfolio. However, that still adds up to a mind-blowing 1.5 million storage units with a total of 160.9 million square feet, or enough space to park 1 million cars!
#1: Public Storage
Public Storage takes the number one spot as the largest owner of self storage properties in the US, owning 2,787 locations, most of which are found in California, Texas and Florida. Public Storage has also expanded into western Europe, with owned and/or managed locations in the UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. This amounts to a massive 198 million rentable square feet! That’s roughly the equivalent surface area taken up by 26,280,000,000,000 ballpoint pen tips! That’s over 26 trillion!
As you can see, self storage is a big business and not without reason. All of it represents space that someone has saved at home, either by putting away furniture, appliances, ATVs or entire motorhomes. But there’s still room left to spare, and more on the way: about 50 million additional square feet by the end of 2022, according to StorageCafe’s analysis of Yardi Matrix data. The many types of self storage available today — including climate-controlled storage and RV storage — means that there’s usually something for everyone. Check out our handy unit size guide and don’t worry, we’ve sorted them using square feet, not Central Parks!