Your quarterly look at self-storage industry performance and customer behavior:

Moving in America

16% of American adults moved sometime from the spring of 2012 through the spring of 2013. Regionally, the biggest percentage of movers was in the South (19%). In terms of age, 18- to 29-year-olds were the most active movers (34%).Of those who had moved within the past year, 57% relocated within 25 miles of their previous home. Regionally, Midwesterners stayed closest to their previous home (67%). In terms of age, 50 to 64-year-olds stayed closest to their previous home (64%).25% of movers reported using self-storage during their most recent move.14% of American adults said they planned to move sometime between the spring of 2013 and the spring of 2014. Regionally, the biggest percentage of future movers was in the West (15%). In terms of age, 18- to 29-year-olds made up the biggest group of future movers (27%).

Why did you need self-storage?

Here are some of the survey answers and trends we've seen in response to the question, "Why did you need self-storage?"
  • September 2012 • “I do antique trade shows, and I store merch in between shows.” • “Live on a yacht.” • “Nonprofit - need additional space for donations.” • “Live on a sailboat and travel from Tampa.” • “Temporary storage of professional library.”
  • January 2013 • Many cited “holiday decorations” as the reason for needing storage.
  • February 2013 •Students between housing or study abroad.
  • May 2013 •Students between housing or study abroad. •"Live on an island."
  • June 2013 • Most respondents cited “moving-related reasons." • “Needed to get away from a crazy roommate.”

The worst part of moving

Searches by time of day

Booking by time of day

Self-storage is ‘very secure’

SpareFoot examined 11,997 customer reviews of 3,467 self-storage facilities and found those facilities earned an average of four out of a possible five stars for security. A four-star rating indicates a facility is “very secure.” A five-star rating qualifies a facility as a “fortress.” The reviews were submitted on SpareFoot’s network of websites from August 2011 through May 2013. The analysis looked at all customer reviews published during that period. 8.9% of U.S. self-storage facilities reported thefts or break-ins in 2012, according to the 2013 Self-Storage Almanac. Online surveys completed in 2012 found 90% of customers who had booked self-storage units through SpareFoot’s network rated a facility’s safety and security as “extremely important” or “very important.” Nearly 900 customers participated in the surveys. 83.6% of self-storage facilities in the U.S. reported using perimeter fence walls to boost security in 2012, while nearly 81.6% reported using cameras/video surveillance, according to the 2013 Self-Storage Almanac. “High-tech security continues to be one of the most highly demanded features a storage property can offer its customers,” according to the 2013 Self-Storage Almanac.

Cap rates for U.S. self-storage market

*Sources: Cushman & Wakefield, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

What this data says about self-storage

Since our last storage trends report, early predictions of a housing market recovery have mostly come true. According to real estate website Trulia, the housing market is 61% of the way back to normal, compared with 35% one year ago. The general upswing can be attributed to rising home-construction starts and existing-home sales, along with falling delinquency and foreclosure rates. Experts still are cautioning buyers against becoming too optimistic, however, since mortgages have been slowly rising over the past few months--just recently, the average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 4.51%, a two-year high. As expected from self-storage trends, the number of college students seeking storage jumped from 8.3% in April to 38.7% in May, reflecting general seasonal trends within the storage industry. According to, 51% of post-grads planned on moving to a new apartment after graduation. Out of those who planned on moving, almost 75% planned to settle in a new location outside of their college town. Additionally, 80% of students said they’d move to the city where they found a job as opposed to the city they most wanted to live. This optimism frequently has been cited as one of the pervasive characteristics of Millennials or Generation Y (roughly those born between 1980 and 2000). The recently published “2013 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends” found that 85% of buyers under age 32 considered their home purchase a “good financial investment.” Additionally, Millennials on the older end of spectrum (median age: 28) made up the second largest percentage of recent homebuyers, at 28%. At the same time, Millennials, more than any other generation, prefer to live closer to city centers. A 2012 study by RCLCO found that 77% of Millennials prefer to live in an urban core (a finding supported by the National Association of Realtors trends report, which also found that younger buyers were more likely to buy in an urban or central-city area). This phenomenon is not surprising, given that many bigger cities offer more job opportunities while also adhering to the fast-paced and growing landscapes and lifestyles that Millennials typically enjoy. How will this affect the self-storage industry? As more Millennials enter the next stage of their lives and continue to make up the biggest portion of current and future movers, storage facilities--especially those in or around urban centers--may see an unprecedented growth in Generation Y customers. Facilities also will have to adapt to the technology-heavy preferences of this generation; a whopping 90% of Millennials responded that they frequently use the Internet to search for homes.