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Unlocking the secret of Self-Storage site selections

Self-storage plays a crucial role in the real estate market by providing flexible space solutions for personal and business use, aiding in urbanization and lifestyle changes. It acts as an ancillary service that supports residential and commercial markets, catering to the fluctuating space demands. With the rise of e-commerce, small businesses and entrepreneurs utilize self-storage for inventory, showcasing its adaptability to market needs. Additionally, self-storage investments offer diversification for real estate portfolios, often yielding stable returns with relatively low maintenance costs, making them an attractive option for investors.

The self-storage industry has witnessed significant growth, driven by factors such as urbanization, downsizing, and the increasing need for space. Central to its success is the strategic selection of location, which ensures facilities are both accessible and visible to potential customers. Ideal locations are often found in areas with high residential density or along major transportation routes, ensuring ease of access for users.

The location strategy for self-storage facilities hinges on understanding local market demand, zoning laws, and real estate costs. By situating facilities where they are most needed, operators can tap into a steady stream of customers. Moreover, areas with limited residential storage space or burgeoning business districts offer ripe opportunities for self-storage operators, given the premium on space in such locales. For example, see below for the locations of self-storage (managed by Public Storage) in Portland.

For a self-storage facility to thrive, several critical success factors must be considered beyond just location. Competitive pricing, effective marketing strategies, and exceptional customer service are paramount. Facilities must offer a range of unit sizes and flexible terms to cater to diverse needs. Additionally, integrating technology for seamless booking and payment processes can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Security is another cornerstone of success in the self-storage industry. Customers entrust facilities with their valuable possessions, making advanced security measures like 24/7 surveillance, gated access, and individual alarms for units crucial. Ultimately, the combination of strategic location, customer-centric services, and robust security protocols forms the bedrock of a successful self-storage operation, ensuring long-term growth and profitability in this competitive industry.

Below are the top 10 MSAs with the largest number of self-storage managed by Public Storage. While we note that the Public Storage may not be representative of other self-storage operators, we see that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX region has the greatest number of self-storages. See below for the locations of self-storages in the region.

1 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (225)

2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (200)

3 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (166)

4 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (146)

5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL (144)

6 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA (130)

7 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (117)

8 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (114)

9 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA (95)

10 San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA (86)

Q & A?

Jay Ha

Head of Urban Research 

Doctoral student in Urban Planning at USC

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