Amidst the coronavirus crisis, the self storage industry has proven once again its importance to customers. College students relied on self storage when they had to leave campuses on short notice. Families that have bunkered at home during the lockdown are using it to store stuff and create more space for working, exercising or entertaining themselves.

Businesses like restaurants or hair and beauty salons reopening after lockdown have to follow the mandated social distancing measures. This means they have to make more space, and self storage provides them with an affordable place to temporarily keep their surplus belongings safe.

Yes, self storage is  more resilient to economic turbulence than other sectors of the real estate industry, but the current pandemic still has an effect. A recent StorageCafe report shows that the national average street rate for a non-climate-controlled 10×10 self storage unit dropped to $112 this May. That’s a decline of 4.3% on a year-over-year basis. The lowering self storage rates might not be good news for operators, but consumers may find that it’s a low-cost time to lease a storage unit.

Like with most other real estate sectors, some places in the country offer a better bang for your buck than others. Where in the US can you find the best value for your self storage budget? We’ve researched the 100 biggest metros in the US, using Yardi Matrix data, to identify the 10 least expensive places for storing your belongings.

1. Oklahoma City, OK

Among the 100 biggest metros, the cheapest metro area in terms of self storage is Oklahoma City. The average rent for a non-CC 10X10 storage unit in Oklahoma City stands at $64 per month, representing a slight 1.5% drop year-over-year.

The metro area, with a population of 1.4 million residents, has a total of 16.7 million square feet of rentable storage space. This means 10.4 square feet per capita – significantly higher than the national benchmark of 7 square feet of storage space per capita.

2019 saw the addition of 140,000 square feet in new self storage supply in Oklahoma City – however, that represented a 52% decline of new space when compared to 2018. The accelerated decrease in deliveries can be attributed to the currently saturated self storage market.

Overall, Oklahoma City residents enjoy self storage rates that are almost 50% lower than the national average; however, this has to do more with the local particularities of the market than with the economic uncertainties of the COVID-19 epidemics.

2. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC

At present, the average monthly rent for a 10×10, non-CC self storage unit in the Greenville metro area stands at $71, representing a significant 10% decrease year-over-year. The metro has a total inventory of 10 million rentable square feet of storage space, for a population of around 920,000 – resulting in 10.8 square feet of storage space per capita.

Last year alone, Greenville metro added 372,000 square feet of new storage space. A well-supplied market combined with the coronavirus crisis explains Greenville’s recent drop in self storage street rates.

3. Tulsa, OK

Self storage street rates in Tulsa, Oklahoma have remained mostly unchanged for the past 12 months. Renting a 10X10, non-CC storage unit in Tulsa costs $71 per month, significantly lower than the national average. The metro area has a total inventory of 8.7 million square feet of storage space, which results in about 9 square feet of space per capita.

In 2019, Tulsa added about 316,000 square feet of new self storage space, which represents a 30% increase compared to 2018.

4. Amarillo, TX

A storage unit in Amarillo, Texas, rents for $72 per month, making it the fourth cheapest self storage market in the country. The street rates have declined by 3.9% year-over-year. The city, with 200,000 residents, has an inventory of 2.16 million square feet of rentable storage space – translating to 10 square feet of storage space per capita.

Amarillo added more than 118,000 square feet of new storage supply in 2019, doubling the new deliveries seen in 2018. The well-supplied market and the constant addition of new storage space are the main reasons rents have plummeted year-over-year.

5. Flint, MI

The markets analyzed so far show either a decrease or a stagnation of self storage street rates, but rates in Flint, Michigan feature a slight rent increase. A 10X10, non-CC self storage unit in Flint goes for $73 per month on average, up 1.4% year-over-year.

The city added more than 94,000 square feet of new self storage supply in 2019, which represents a whopping 136% increase in new self storage space compared to 2018. Currently, the city has 616,000 square feet of rentable storage space, which results in a modest 6.4 square feet per capita. Flint’s still relatively undersupplied self storage market explains both the steep increase in deliveries and the street rates holding up.

6. Toledo, OH

The street rate for that same storage unit in Toledo, Ohio hovers around $73 per month, decreasing by 1.3% year-over-year. Right now, the total rentable self storage inventory in Toledo stands at over 3 million square feet. Almost 200,000 of those square feet were added in 2019, doubling the new supply delivered in 2018.

With a population of almost 275,000 residents, Toledo has 11 square feet of self storage space per capita, significantly above the 7 square feet per capita national benchmark. The city’s population has also been on a descending trend for almost a decade, currently declining at a rate of 0.79% annually, according to the US Census. All these factors have led to lowering street rates.

7. Chattanooga, TN-GA

The average rent for a self storage unit in Chattanooga metro area stands at $74 for a 10X10, non-CC one, dropping 9.8% year-over-year. 2019 saw the addition of 86,500 square feet of new self storage space, bringing the city’s total inventory to 5.08 million square feet. However, 2019 represented an almost 10% decrease in new deliveries compared to 2018.

When looking at inventory per capita, Chattanooga has a little over 9 square feet of storage space per person–significant of a well-developed market, and one of the reasons of its declining street rates.

8. Spartanburg, SC

Coming in 8th, a 10-X10, non-CC self storage unit in Spartanburg rents for $75, the street rates declining by almost 15% year-over year. About 130,000 square feet of new self storage supply was added in 2019, taking the total inventory to over 1 million square feet. However, the addition of new storage space decreased by 30% last year, compared to 2018.

9. El Paso, TX

Among these top ten, El Paso is the market with the highest street rates increase over the past 12 months. Currently, the average rent for a 10X10, non-CC storage unit in El Paso is $77, which represents an 7% growth year-over-year.

The metro area has an inventory of 6.3 million square feet rentable storage space, with 2019 adding 102,000 square feet of new space. 2019 deliveries represented a 45% increase compared to 2018. El Paso metro area has around 7 square feet of storage space per capita – and the moderate per capita supply combined with an increasing demand is probably behind this unexpected rise in street rates.

10. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC

A 10X10 storage unit in Myrtle Beach metro area rents for $78 per month, dropping by more than 11% year-over-year. The metro area right now has an inventory of about 2 million square feet of self storage space–336,000 square feet were added in 2019, nearly doubling the volume of new deliveries from 2018.

The increased volume of new supply has led to a higher rate of space per capita. Their expanded rate of 10 square feet has determined the significant drop in street rates that we’re witnessing now.

The COVID-19 crisis and its effect on the economy as a whole impacted self storage street rates at a national level. However, the high supply levels seen by most US markets is the main factor behind the decreasing street rates.


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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