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One-quarter of self-storage renters are Millennials

Self-Storage Facilities

One-quarter of self-storage renters are Millennials

Nearly one-fifth of Americans rent self-storage units as of 2024. Millennials have increased their presence among storage renters from one-fifth to 25% of the total.

By Quinn Purcell, Managing Editor | January 25, 2024
Neighbors keeping personal items in rental self-storage units. Man and women holding boxes. Concept of self storage unit, small mini warehouse, rental garage. Vector illustration in flat design
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock

Interest in self-storage has increased in over 75% of the top metros. That is according to the latest annual survey of self-storage preferences by StorageCafe, a nationwide self-storage search website and a part of Yardi. Among those currently or planning to rent storage units in the future are Millennials, who as of 2024 make up 25% of all self-storage renters.

Compared to StorageCafe's 2023 annual report, the generational differences in renter demographics have shifted slightly. Millennial self-storage renters increased from 21% to 25%—the largest year-over-year leap of the generations. Gen Z and Boomer renters have both increased by one percentage point (12% and 22%, respectfully), the Silent Generation has decreased by three points to 13 percent, while Gen X remains the same at 23 percent. 

Added to these figures are the 23% of Millennials considering renting in the future, bringing combined Millennial interest in self-storage up to 47 percent (12 points up from last year). As 42% of survey respondents have turned to self-storage as a result of inadequate space at home, the trend suggests more people are turning to additional storage solutions each year.

Factors Driving Those Seeking Self-Storage Rental

The Shrinking Apartment

Over the last decade, the average apartment size has shrunk from 929 sf to 917 sf, according to Yardi Matrix data. The 1.3% decrease shows the increasing number of small apartments hitting the market in recent years. More developments, especially those in affordable housing, have trended towards increasing community amenity spaces at the cost of individual unit size.

Lee DeLong, CEO-Capital Group for Clark Construction in McLean, Va., observes that shrinkage could be attributable to a change in “blending,” with greater emphasis on one-bedroom apartments to increase an apartment building’s density and, presumably, its return on investment. Smaller apartments are also a response to this sector’s affordability dilemma that, in June of 2023, found the national median rent price at $2,029 per month, 15.5% higher than the same month in 2021, according to the website Rent.com.

Self-Storage to Declutter

Millennials are more inclined than other generations to live in apartments—often with roommates to bring down costs. Only 45% of Millennials surveyed indicated having no problem with clutter in their homes, compared to 59% of all respondents. This shows Millennial's slight preference for more tidy spaces, mirroring the generation's increase in renting storage units.

The most commonly placed items in storage units are furniture (29% of the total), extra clothing (19%), home appliances (19%), and sporting items/hobby gear (9%).

Geographic Data

StorageCafe finds that interest in self-storage is increasing in popular migration destinations, such as Florida, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The report analyzed Google search volumes over the past 12 months to see which metros showed the most interest.

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

  1. Madison, Wis., saw a 199% increase in searches for self-storage per 1,000 residents in 2023.
  2. Oklahoma City, Okla., saw a 194% increase in searches.
  3. Anchorage, Alaska, saw a 184% increase in searches.
  4. Reno, Nev., saw a 175% increase in searches.
  5. Louisville, Ky., saw a 158% increase in searches.
  6. Gainesville, Fla., saw a 157% increase in searches.
  7. Henderson, Nev., saw a 156% increase in searches.
  8. Pensacola, Fla., saw a 139% increase in searches.
  9. Scottsdale, Ariz., saw a 104% increase in searches.
  10. Omaha, Neb., saw a 100% increase in searches.

Click here to read the full StorageCafe report.

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