Key Takeaways:

  • New York–Newark–Jersey City took the crown for the most active self storage market in 2020, with over 3 million sq. ft. added.
  • The market with the largest inventory across the US is Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, boasting over 65 million square feet of total self storage inventory.
  • Street rates saw decreases across most markets, with Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington experiencing the highest drop among our top 10 markets, down 5.9% year-over-year. 
  • 3 out of the 10 most active self storage markets are also some of the most expensive ones in the US, namely the New York, Seattle and Washington metro areas.

The self storage industry has pushed forward in 2020, even amid the economic slowdown that severely shook other sectors of the economy. Construction has continued on an even keel throughout the year, even though it didn’t keep the momentum that many markets had in 2019. Overbuilding was already looming when COVID-19 hit and the rent drops recorded in the first half of 2020 have been a direct consequence of the uncertainty accompanying those two factors. But self storage is a strong sector; it has proven its resiliency following the Great Recession and in the aftermath of COVID as well. Much of its value derives from the very nature of the industry as it’s a needs-based service. Self storage is extensively used when moving as well as for storing surplus items. Last year in particular it came to the aid of many people who had to either relocate or downsize, or who engaged in home improvement projects.

Moreover, the self storage industry has indirectly offered its support in the rise of the digital economy as many people needed to maximize space at home as they were transitioning to remote work. Both employers and employees found a use for self storage as a way to better organize their redefined workplace.

Safety was also a main concern which self storage operators took care of by implementing social-distancing measures and tools that allowed them and their customers to continue business as usual. In this sense, online booking and payment and even virtual tours played a crucial role in supporting self storage transactions between facility operators and customers. Many self storage owners offered incentives in the form of student discounts and fee waivers to encourage occupancy levels, which remained high throughout the year. As a result, with robust demand and stable move-in levels, the self-storage development market was poised for further growth.

Self storage rates zig-zagged in 2020 to resume an upward trend by end of year

Rent growth had been negative for most of 2019, mostly due to high and increasing inventories, and the arrival of the pandemic only put more downward pressure on street rates. However, as demand appeared unaffected by the pandemic crisis and even emerged from other, less traditional sources, the market perked up, leading to a slow, but gradual hike. In December 2020 average street rates for a standard 10×10 unit stood at $118 — a 3.5% increase compared to the previous year, per Yardi Matrix data.

2020 new self storage construction plays catchup with 2019 deliveries

When it comes to 2020, new developments amounted to 49.4 million square feet of self storage space, a marked decline from the 56.3 million square feet of storage space delivered in 2019 and the 56.9 million square feet that 2018 delivered. Current self storage inventory in the US comprises close to 1.5 billion square feet. As for 2021, a total of 590 facilities are slated for delivery, amounting to 43.6 million square feet of rentable space.

The national market is stable overall, but fluctuations are visible when looking at market-level data. We looked at self storage data provided by our sister research division Yardi Matrix and investigated self storage deliveries in the first 100 largest markets across the US. As it turns out, New York–Newark–Jersey City took the crown for the most self storage space added in 2020, with over 3 million square feet added to the local inventory. The large amount of square footage added is a welcome addition to a market that is undersupplied with 3.2 square feet of self storage available per person.

Let’s take a look at the metro areas that saw the most self storage construction in 2020:

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

Self Storage Development in 2020 in New York-Newark-Jersey City NY-NJ-PA

The construction in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA market has been on a steep growing slope since 2017, as it added close to 1 million square feet more to its inventory in 2018. Come 2019, new deliveries not only tripled compared to the 2017 square footage but also saw its highest annual number of completed square footage — over 3.1 million square feet.

In 2020, the new completion rate surpassed its 2019 mark, with over 3.2M square feet of new construction being added to the inventory – representing 5.5% of the 2019 inventory. The impressive amount of new construction secured the NY metro the number one position among all self storage markets, the second time in a row after 2019.

It might not be surprising that the New York–Newark–Jersey City market has the highest street rate in the top 10 most active self storage development markets in the US. A 10×10 cost, on average, $178/month in 2020, a 0.2% year-over-year increase.

With a stock of over 62M square feet of self storage —the third largest inventory in the US— the NY-NJ-PA metro area doesn’t fare well in terms of the square footage of self storage per capita. In fact, it is the market with the lowest number in this respect (3.2 square feet/person) among our top 100 most active markets.

In 2021, 55 facilities are expected to be added to the area, totaling about 4.4 million square feet of self storage space.

2. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

Self Storage Development in 2020 Phoenix Mesa Chandler AZ

The Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro is the nation’s second-most active self storage market, adding 1.8 million square feet of self storage in 2020. However, the construction pace slowed down in 2020, driven by the record high completions from 2019 when over 2.3 million square feet of new construction were added. At the time, the market saw a vertiginous growth doubling its deliveries as compared to 2018 when the market had a little over 1 million square feet of new construction.

When it comes to square feet of self storage per capita, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale has 6.7 square feet of self storage per person — more than double the provision of the New York metro area — with an inventory of about 33.5 million square feet.

In 2020, street rates for Phoenix self storage units hovered around $105/month, a 2.2% y-o-y increase compared to 2019.

As for 2021, there are 18 new facilities expected to be delivered, which will amount to about 1.4 million square feet of self storage space.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Self Storage Development in 2020 Dallas Fort Worth Arlington TXTexas has been known for its large stock of self storage in the past few years, but its growth saw a deceleration in 2019. This trend continued even more abruptly in 2020 when about 1.8 million square feet of new construction were added as opposed to the 2.4 million square feet delivered in 2019. Out of the past four years, it was 2018 that fared the best in terms of new construction, when an impressive 3.1 million square feet were added to the inventory — a construction record for any US metro for that year.

The Dallas metro boasts the largest inventory of any US market — over 65 million square feet of self storage space, and it can provide 8.6 square feet per capita.

A 10×10 unit rent averaged $93/month in 2020 in the Dallas metro, a 1.6% y-o-y decrease. The market has seen a consistent lowering of its street rates, making Dallas among the cheapest self storage markets. In addition, at least 3 other Texan markets — including Austin, Houston and San Antonio — registered street rates below the national average of $118 in December 2020.

As a forecast for 2021, there are about 26 facilities projected to be completed, amounting to over 2.6 million square feet in storage space.

4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Self Storage Development 2020 in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

After taking the 7th spot in 2019 among the best markets for new developments, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach caught up with other metros and grabbed the 4th spot in the equivalent list for 2020. Even though 2020 registered fewer deliveries than in 2019, over 1.4 million square feet were added to the local inventory in 2020. Even 2019 saw less construction (1.7 M sq. ft.) than 2018 when the market saw the highest level of deliveries in the past 6 years — over 2.3 million square feet of self storage space.

Local rents averaged around $132/month in 2020, marking a 0.3% y-o-y increase. The high street rate isn’t surprising, given that Miami is among the more expensive markets for self storage.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach claims about 6.2 square feet per capita of self storage, with a total inventory of about 38 million square feet. In 2021, about 16 new facilities are projected to be delivered which equal over 1.3 million square feet of self storage space.

5. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin

Self Storage Development in 2020 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin IL-IN-WI

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro is another active market for self storage construction, with over 1.3 million square feet completed in 2020. The market still performed well, despite its slowdown compared to the 2019 deliveries (1.6 million square feet) — a high point after 2018 had seen fewer deliveries. Back in 2016, the market peaked as more than 2 million square feet were added.

In 2020, the self storage rate for a 10×10 unit was about $100/month, a 0.6% increase from 2019.

When it comes to the square footage available per capita, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro offers 5 square feet per person, with a total inventory of over 47.3 million square feet.

According to Yardi Matrix data, 3 new storage facilities are projected to be delivered in 2021, encompassing over 207,000 square feet.

6. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

Self Storage Development in 2020 Atlanta Sandy Springs-Alpharetta GA

The Georgian market also fared well in terms of new developments in 2020, as it added over 1.3 million square feet of self storage space. 2020’s deliveries are a far departure from 2019’s over 2 million square feet of new developments — the market’s peak of construction for the previous four years. New self storage construction in 2018 — about 1.8M sq. ft. — came close to 2019’s completions, but it still marked a slowdown in new developments at the time. Both 2017 and 2016 saw comparable deliveries, with over 882,000 square feet added in 2017, similar to the approximately 887,000 square feet of space in 2016.

The average street rate for a 10×10 self storage unit in the Atlanta metro area was around $94 in 2020, down 3.8% as compared to 2019.

In terms of square footage per capita, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta provides 6.2 square feet of rentable self storage person, and a total stock encompassing 37.5 million square feet. As for 2021, 16 facilities — or 1.1 million square feet — are expected to be added to the pipeline.

7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is a newcomer to 2020’s top 10, propelled by the almost 1.3 million square feet delivered in 2020. In 2019, the market saw slightly more construction (1.36 million square feet), which was in fact the highest construction level for the past three years. Since 2017 onward, the Seattle construction market was on an accelerated growth slope as deliveries consistently doubled year-over-year until 2020 broke the pattern. If 2017 delivered about 495,000 square feet, we saw construction rise up to about 760,000 square feet in 2018. The growth trend stabilized in 2020 to a level comparable to the one registered in 2019.

The Seattle metro is the second-most expensive market in our top 10 markets for self storage construction in 2020 after the New York metro, with the street rate hovering at $153 in 2020, a decrease of 0.7% y-o-y.

The square footage of self storage per capita is 6.2, with a total inventory amounting to 24.8 million square feet.

As for 2021, there are 7 new self storage facilities projected to be added to the inventory, which will make up about 762,000 square feet of self storage space.

8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Self Storage Development in 2020 Portland-Vancouver-Hilsboro OR-WA

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro took the 8th spot in our list of the most active markets for self storage completions, with over 1.2 million square feet of self storage space added to the 2020 inventory. In fact, in 2020, the market continued a similar construction trajectory to the one it followed in 2019 when 1.2 million square feet of self storage were also added. The Portland metro has shown steady growth from 2017, doubling its deliveries in 2018 as compared to the previous year.

In terms of street rates, a standard storage unit averaged $139/month in 2020, down 1% from the previous year.

With an inventory encompassing over 15 million rentable square feet, the Portland metro offers 6 square feet of self storage per capita. In 2021, the addition of another 6 facilities is anticipated, or approximately 584,000 square feet of storage space.

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Self Storage Development in 2020 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI

Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington is another market seeing increased self storage construction in 2020, with 1.2 million square feet delivered. 2019 saw the highest construction level in the past four years, with 1.7 million square feet added to the pipeline, while in 2018 there was less than 1 million square feet in self storage construction. In 2017 the difference in deliveries was even more striking as compared to more recent years as about only 357,000 square feet were delivered

When it comes to street rates, Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington saw the highest price drop among the top 10 markets, with rents averaging $108/month in 2020 — down 5.9% year-over-year.

As per December 2020 data, Minneapolis-St. Paul- Bloomington claims over 18 million square feet of self storage in inventory, with about 5 square feet per capita.

The market expects close to 504,000 square feet to be delivered in 2021, which translates to the addition of 7 new facilities.

10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Self Storage Development in 2020 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria takes the 10th spot in our list of the 10 most active markets in terms of self storage construction, with over 1.1 million square feet delivered in 2020. The market has consistently delivered a high square footage of new developments over the past four years, boosted by the low amount of stock per capita offered. New construction peaked in 2018 when over 1.2 million square feet of self storage space were added to the pipeline. 2019 and 2020 saw a slight incremental decline, but new developments still accounted for over 1.1 million square feet built in each year. This subsequent slowdown can be attributed to the existing large stock that gave the market a slightly more competitive edge.

A standard storage unit rented for about $142/month in 2020, showing a year-over-year decrease of 0.9%. Washington, however, remains one of the priciest self storage markets in the US.

As for square feet per capita, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria has 4.5 square feet of self storage per person, with a total rentable inventory of over 28 million square feet.

2021 is estimated to bring in approximately 1.4 million square feet of self storage space, distributed among the 17 facilities planned and under construction.

Methodology

This analysis was done by StorageCafé, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation. To come up with a list of the most active self storage markets, the research team at Storagecafe analyzed 384 US metropolitan areas in terms of rentable square feet of new construction in 2020.

The report was based on data for more than 28,000 facilities available via Yardi Matrix, out of an estimated inventory of more than 50,000 existing nationally.

Yardi Matrix is StorageCafe’s sister division and 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 redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to STORAGECafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

Author

Mirela is a creative writer for STORAGECafé. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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