Invest in Storage Units

Investing in storage units has gained popularity in recent years as more individuals and businesses seek additional space for their belongings. These self-storage facilities offer a unique opportunity for investors looking to diversify their portfolios while capitalizing on the growing demand for storage solutions. Self-storage investments involve acquiring and managing storage facilities that lease units to renters for short or long periods to securely store their items.

Such investments can prove attractive due to their relatively low operating costs, as they require less maintenance than traditional commercial real estate, like office buildings or multifamily complexes. Furthermore, self-storage facilities demand fewer overhead expenses, particularly regarding labor, making them potentially profitable income-generating real estate assets. Several approaches to investment, such as directly purchasing a facility or investing in self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs), can cater to various investor preferences and risk profiles.

Before diving into self-storage investing, it is crucial to understand the various factors that contribute to a successful investment, including location, management, and financial considerations. By looking at the potential revenue, conducting thorough due diligence, and employing effective management strategies, investors may find self-storage facilities a profitable addition to their real estate portfolio.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-storage investing offers an opportunity to diversify portfolios and profit from a growing demand for storage solutions.
  • Storage unit facilities have relatively low operating costs, making them potentially profitable income-generating real estate investments.
  • Investors should consider factors such as location, management, and financial considerations for successful investments in self-storage facilities.

Understanding Self-Storage Units

Demand and Growing Popularity

The self-storage industry has been experiencing a boom in recent years due to growing demand. This demand can be attributed to various factors such as population growth, urbanization, and homeowners seeking additional storage space for their personal belongings or businesses. People choose self-storage facilities to store their possessions, including furniture, equipment, and vehicles, while moving or tidying their homes.

The popularity of self-storage units has led to a surge in investment opportunities in the self-storage industry. Investors are realizing the potential income and profit generation, as operating costs are relatively low compared to other forms of commercial real estate investments. Owning self-storage facilities can provide a consistent cash flow, thanks to the long-term nature of leasing contracts and reduced maintenance expenses.

storage units

Types of Self-Storage Facilities

There are several types of self-storage facilities available for investment. Some common examples include the following:

  1. Traditional self-storage facilities: They consist of single or multi-story buildings with individual units that can be accessed either from inside or outside the building. These types of facilities often have an on-site manager and security features, such as surveillance cameras and electronic gates with key card access. Renters are responsible for the contents of their storage unit.
  2. Climate-controlled storage facilities: Designed for storing temperature-sensitive items, these facilities have added climate control systems to maintain the temperature and humidity levels within a specific range. This feature can attract customers who need to store valuable items that require special care, such as artwork, antiques, or wine collections.

Investing in self-storage facilities offers several benefits, such as low operating costs, consistent cash flow, and a growing demand for storage units. As an investor, understanding the various types of self-storage facilities and factors contributing to their growing popularity can help make informed decisions and generate healthy returns on investment.

Why Invest in Storage Units?

High Demand and Low Overhead

The self-storage industry has been gaining popularity among investors due to its high demand and low overhead costs. These facilities typically cost less to build and maintain than other forms of commercial real estate, as they have fewer amenities and require minimal staffing. This translates into lower operational expenses and higher potential profits for investors. Moreover, the demand for storage units remains strong, as people often require temporary storage during relocations, downsizing, and other life events. This makes self-storage investments an attractive option for investors looking to diversify their real estate portfolios.

Investment Stability

Another reason to consider investing in storage units is the industry’s stability. Self-storage has proven to be recession-resistant, as it tends to thrive even during economic downturns due to the consistent need for storage solutions. With a low failure rate of only 8%, self-storage investments can offer investors a sense of security compared to other riskier real estate opportunities. Additionally, these investments typically experience a steady cash flow, as rental payments are typically made on a monthly basis, providing investors with a reliable income stream.

Passive Income Potential

Investing in storage units can offer a valuable source of passive income for those looking to expand their investment portfolios. As mentioned earlier, the operational costs associated with self-storage facilities are relatively low, leaving more room for profits. Furthermore, self-storage units are often rented out for both short and long periods of time, resulting in a consistent inflow of rental income. By carefully selecting and managing a well-located storage facility, investors can potentially generate a significant return on investment, making it a worthwhile addition to their real estate investment strategy.

Selecting the Right Storage Facility

Assessing Location and Market

When investing in self-storage facilities, location plays a crucial role in determining demand and potential returns. Carefully analyze the surrounding market to understand the demographics, population growth, and economic activity in the area. Factors to consider include:

  • Population density: A high-density area would typically have higher demand for self-storage units.
  • Proximity to residential neighborhoods: Residents moving or downsizing houses often require storage units for their belongings.
  • Accessibility: Make sure the facility is easily accessible and visible from main roads to attract customers.

Additionally, research the competition in the area to gauge the market saturation and potential for growth.

self storage facility location

Size and Storage Unit Types

Selecting the right size and a variety of storage unit types is essential to cater to different customer needs. Consider the following factors:

  • Unit sizes: Offer a range of unit sizes (small, medium, and large) to accommodate various needs of customers.
  • Climate control: Climate-controlled units help protect items from extreme temperature fluctuations and humidity, thus attracting customers who need to store sensitive items.
  • Security: Ensure the facility has adequate security measures, such as surveillance cameras and alarm systems, to assure customers their belongings are safe.

Analyzing Existing Facilities Versus New Developments

When investing in self-storage facilities, there are two main options: buying an existing facility or developing a new one. Each option has its pros and cons:

Existing Facilities:

  • Easier entry: Acquiring an existing facility can be more straightforward and typically comes with an established customer base.
  • Immediate cash flow: Existing facilities start generating revenue from day one.
  • Limited growth opportunities: Depending on the facility’s location and existing infrastructure, there might be limited opportunities to expand or upgrade the facility.

New Developments:

  • Customization: Developing a new facility allows for tailoring the design, layout, and features to local market demand.
  • Potential for higher returns: A well-located and thoughtfully designed facility can result in higher returns and customer satisfaction.
  • Construction and permitting challenges: Developing a new facility might entail dealing with construction complexity, zoning regulations, and permitting requirements, which can be time-consuming and costly.

When deciding between the two options, consider the location, demand, and growth potential within your target market. Moreover, gauge your risk tolerance and available resources to make an informed decision.

Managing Storage Unit Investments

Effective Management Strategies

An essential aspect of investing in storage units is effective management for the success of the business. This involves selecting capable employees, implementing regular maintenance schedules, and ensuring excellent customer service. Focusing on these factors ensures a well-run facility and maximizes profits in the long term. Moreover, clear communication with staff and frequent assessment of the business’ performance are crucial to address potential issues and make necessary improvements.

Implementing Technology Systems and Security

Incorporating technology in storage unit facilities is an excellent way to enhance their functionality and streamline operations. Some technological solutions that can be employed include:

  • Reservation systems: Ensuring easy booking and payment processes for customers.
  • Access control systems: Providing selective entry and exit points for tenants, improving the overall security of the facility.
  • Surveillance cameras: Installing high-quality CCTV cameras to monitor and deter potential threats.

These technology implementations help safeguard the investment by enhancing security and improving operational efficiency, making the storage facility an attractive option for potential customers.

Add-on Products and Services

To increase revenue and offer additional value to customers, storage unit investors can consider offering add-on products and services. These can include:

  • Moving supplies: Providing items such as boxes, packing tape, and bubble wrap for purchase.
  • Transportation services: Offering rental trucks or partnerships with local moving companies.
  • Climate-controlled units: Catering to customers who require specific temperature and humidity conditions for their items.

By incorporating these add-on services, investors can further monetize their storage facilities and attract a broader range of customers. The key is to identify services that cater to client needs and ensure they complement the primary offerings of the storage unit facilities.

Financial Considerations and Valuation

Financing Methods

When looking to invest in storage units, there are various financing methods available, including vehiclesreal estate investment trusts (REITs), and direct real estate investing. Investors can choose from public storage or self-storage REITs, both of which tend to be profitable due to the high demand for storage facilities. Alternatively, investors can directly purchase storage units or facilities, potentially providing a more significant return on investment (ROI).

Understanding Net Operating Income (NOI)

Net Operating Income (NOI) is a critical metric in real estate investing, including storage units. It represents the income generated from the property after accounting for operating expenses – such as utilities, maintenance, taxes, and insurance costs. Storage facilities typically have low capital expenditures and insurance costs, which often translates to steady cash flow, even during economic downturns.

To compute NOI, use the formula:

NOI = Gross Income - Operating Expenses

Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate)

Capitalization Rate, or Cap Rate, is another essential factor in evaluating investments in the storage unit industry. It is a metric used to estimate the potential ROI based on the property’s net operating income and current market value.

The formula for calculating Cap Rate is:

Cap Rate = (NOI / Property Market Value) × 100

Between 2009 and 2018, self-storage facilities reported an average annual ROI of 16.9%, which has outperformed other real estate sectors, including office buildings, retail, and apartments.

Storage unit investments offer high earning potential due to their lower costs compared to other commercial or residential real estate properties. Consequently, the storage unit industry has seen a steady increase in revenue, reaching over $29 billion in the past five years. Furthermore, it is projected to grow to $115.62 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 134.79% during the 2020-2025 period.

Investing in Storage Unit REITs

Self-Storage REIT Market Leaders

The self-storage industry is experiencing growing demand, making real estate investments in storage units appealing. One popular approach is investing in self-storage REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts). The market leaders in the self-storage REIT sector include National Storage Affiliates and CubeSmart. Both entities have demonstrated strong performance and market capitalization over the past years, with the top self-storage REIT in the U.S. reaching a market cap of $50.5 billion in 2022.

Some investors choose to invest directly in individual self-storage REITs, while others use their portfolios to participate in REIT mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). As of 5/31/2023, the FTSE Nareit US Real Estate Index reports the following numbers for the self-storage REITs landscape:

  • Number of REITs: 5
  • Dividend Yield: 4.32%
  • Year-to-Date (YTD) Total Return: 5.40%

Advantages and Disadvantages of REIT Investments

Investing in self-storage REITs offers both advantages and disadvantages:


  • Diversification: Investing in REITs can help diversify your portfolio by adding exposure to the real estate sector.
  • Passive income: REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends, providing regular cash flow.
  • Liquidity: REIT stocks can be sold on the stock market, offering high liquidity compared to direct real estate investments.


  • Market volatility: As publicly traded investments, REITs can be subject to stock market fluctuations and may not always reflect the true value of their underlying assets.
  • Interest rate sensitivity: When interest rates rise, real estate investments, including REITs, tend to perform worse.
  • Management risk: The performance of REITs depends on the quality and strategy of the management team. Poor management decisions can negatively affect the performance of the trust.

In conclusion, investing in storage unit REITs offers a viable option for those seeking exposure to the real estate market while benefiting from the growing demand for storage spaces. However, as with any investment, it’s essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the startup costs for a storage unit business?

The startup costs for a storage unit business can vary depending on factors such as land prices, construction costs, and local permits. Costs typically include land acquisition, construction or conversion of existing structures, security measures, and initial marketing efforts. It’s essential to create a detailed business plan outlining all these expenses to have a clear understanding of your investment.

How do storage unit investment returns compare to other industries?

Storage unit investments can offer a strong and stable cash flow compared to other real estate asset classes. The demand for storage space is relatively steady, making it potentially less vulnerable to economic downturns. Additionally, storage facilities tend to have lower operating expenses, which can result in higher profit margins.

What are the operating expenses for a storage unit facility?

Operating expenses for a storage unit facility mainly include property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, payroll, and marketing. These costs can vary depending on the location, size, and complexity of the facility. However, compared to other types of real estate investments, storage units typically have lower operating expenses due to fewer moving parts and less need for daily property management.

How can I assess the potential profitability of owning storage units?

To assess the potential profitability of owning storage units, investors should examine factors such as occupancy rates, rental income, expenses, and local competition. Analyzing historical operating data from similar facilities, consulting with industry experts, and performing a thorough market analysis can also provide valuable insights into the profitability potential of a storage unit investment.

What are some strategies for finding storage units for sale?

Strategies for finding storage units for sale include online listings, commercial real estate brokers, networking with industry professionals, and attending real estate investment conferences. Additionally, reaching out to storage unit owners directly or through mailing campaigns could reveal potential off-market opportunities.

What are key factors to consider when investing in self-storage REITs?

When investing in self-storage REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), consider factors such as the track record of the management team, geographical diversification of the REIT’s properties, quality of the properties in the portfolio, and its financial health. Acknowledging macroeconomic factors and industry trends, such as supply and demand dynamics and the overall health of the commercial real estate market, is also critical for making an informed investment decision.

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Kevin Martin

Kevin is an ambitious entrepreneur that is obsessed with all things related to finance. From a young age, Kevin has always been involved with side hustles ranging from online selling to freelance work. Over the years, Kevin graduated from side hustles and started launching multiple online and offline businesses. Kevin is a serial entrepreneur who loves starting new businesses and exploring all things related to business and finance. He is constantly looking for new ways to save money, invest money, and create income streams.