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Mirroring Apartment Construction Trends, Self Storage Gets Big Boost in US Hotspots with Dallas and New York in the Lead

  • The self storage sector has seen massive development in the last decade, significantly spurred by the flurry of new apartments coming online all across the country. Roughly 350M sq. ft. of storage space and 3.1M new apartments have been delivered nationally in the last ten years.
  • The country’s top three metros for apartment construction of the decade – Dallas, TX, New York, NY, and Houston, TX – are the most active metros for self storage construction as well.
  • 58 of the 100 largest metro areas are expanding their self storage inventories at a higher speed than the national average.
  • Urban Honolulu, on the other hand, added the least amount of self storage space over the past decade – under 110K square feet – and it remains the country’s most undersupplied major self storage market.

The self storage sector continues its march forward, with a decade marked by high construction volumes. Almost 350 million square feet of storage space were delivered across the US from 2012 to 2021, representing 22% of the total existing inventory.

One of the main drivers behind the flurry of new self storage space is the multifamily construction boom witnessed during the same time frame. Over 3.1 million new apartments in 50+ unit buildings were added nationally from 2012 to 2021, representing 20% of the large-scale apartment inventory, as per Yardi Matrix data. Moreover, apartment deliveries hit an all time high in 2021, with no less than 427K new rentals added to the US apartment market last year.

The development picture gets more nuanced as we zoom in on specific locations. By analyzing the country’s top 100 metro areas we were able to identify the places where self storage is thriving, largely supported by a growing apartment market. According to our research, self storage space swelled in all 100 US metros where apartment inventories expanded. In terms of sheer numbers, Dallas is far ahead in the national race and one of only five metro areas that built over 10 million square feet of storage space over the last decade. Three of those five are also leading US apartment construction, each seeing the addition of over 140,000 apartment units to their rental markets.

Dallas Ranks First for Both Self Storage and Multifamily Construction, With Houston Also Making It Onto the Podium

The hotspot of urban development of the past decade remains Texas and its major metro areas, which experienced high levels of real estate construction, bolstered by economic and population growth.

One of the most popular relocation destinations in the country, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington saw a 17% population growth over the past decade, which naturally led to increased demand for both housing and self storage. The local real estate sector was quick to respond, and D-FW saw almost 200K new apartments and over 20M square feet of new storage space delivered over the past decade, the most for both indicators out of the 100 metros analyzed.

Construction in both sectors picked up pace during the second half of the decade, with 2018 the best year, during which over 3.6M square feet of self storage space and almost 30K new apartments were finalized. Despite the pandemic-related setbacks that hampered the real estate market, the Dallas metro area was quick to recover in terms of self storage and multifamily construction, with almost 2.4M square feet of new storage space and 26,500 new apartments delivered in 2021.

The Dallas metro area is well positioned in terms of offering access to self storage space, with over nine square feet per capita, well above the national benchmark of seven square feet per person. That can compensate well for a lack of storage space at home, especially since most new apartments built in the Metroplex over the past decade are on the smaller side – 911 square feet on average.

The Houston metro area has been one of the country’s favorite areas for corporate relocations for a while now, with the likes or Hewlett Packard, Maddox Defense, Axiom Space and Sun Haven moving their headquarters here in the past couple of years alone. Consequently, young professionals have flocked to Houston in droves, which has bolstered local development efforts. About 15M square feet of new storage space and 142K apartments were delivered in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area over the past decade, with 2018 being the best year of the decade for self storage and 2017 the best for apartment construction.

The Houston metro area currently enjoys almost 10 square feet of storage space per capita, signaling a mature, well-supplied market, one of the likely reasons for a decline in new deliveries. New supply dropped from a peak of 3.3M square feet in 2018 to just over 1M square feet last year.

Apartment construction in Space City, on the other hand, performed remarkably well in 2021, with over 20K new apartments delivered, rivaling the peak year of the decade. At almost 950 square feet, new apartments built during the past decade are also roomier in Houston than in Dallas.

The third Texan metro where self storage went hand in hand with apartment construction in the last 10 years is Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown. The metro area saw an impressive population growth during the same timeframe, roughly 28%, the 6th highest population growth among the country’s top 100 metros. Naturally, this gave a serious push to real estate development in the area, with over 98K new apartments and almost 7M square feet of self storage space delivered from 2012 to 2021.

The best year of the decade for multifamily construction was 2021 when over 15K units were delivered. Self storage performed extremely well in 2017, with almost 1.3M square feet of new space built. To balance supply and demand, construction slowed down in the last two years, with 2021 seeing the addition of only 235K square feet of storage space to the existing stock. With 8.7 square feet of storage space per capita, Austin is a well-supplied market where renters can easily access the service – rent on a 10’x10’ self storage unit in Austin currently hovers around $115 per month, up 6% over the past five years.

The San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area is another Texas hotspot where construction is booming. Sharing a common path, both the self storage and apartment sectors have experienced significant growth. Over 5.5M square feet of storage space in came online over the past decade (26% of the total local inventory), and nearly 59K new apartments (27% of the total inventory) were added to San Antonio’s real estate market.

The New York Metro Area Builds Self Storage Space Massively in a Still Undersupplied Market

Historically starved for space, whether it’s living space or storage space, New York-Newark-Jersey City picked up pace in terms of construction activity over the past decade.

The metro area added 17.6M square feet of new storage space from 2012 to 2021 (26% of its existing inventory). 2020 was the best year of the decade, with almost 3.4M square feet of space built that year alone. However, the per capita inventory, at 3.4 square feet, is still one of the lowest among the country’s largest 100 metro areas. This translates into higher-than-average self storage rates, with a 10’x10’ storage unit in New York City renting for $200 per month, well above the national average street rate of around $130.

Similarly, almost 162K new apartments saw the light of day in the New York metro this last decade. With an average size of 842 square feet, newly built apartments in the New York metro area are among the smallest in the country, further amplifying self storage demand and, consequently, self storage development.

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin mimics New York trends in terms of apartments and self storage development – the Chicago metro area added 11.5M square feet of storage space and almost 72K multifamily units during the past decade. New apartments in Chicago are only slightly larger than those in the New York metro area, averaging 856 square feet.

With a local inventory of five square feet of self storage space per capita, Chicago is still an undersupplied market compared to the national benchmark of seven square feet per capita. The best year of the decade for self storage construction was 2016, with 2.1M square feet of space delivered, while 2019 and 2020 also saw consistent levels of new development.

Both New York and Chicago are dynamic self storage markets where developers are amping up their construction efforts to keep up with demand. Although temporarily hindered by pandemic-related challenges, both metro areas are speeding up and boosting their rankings among the 10 best metros for planned and under-construction storage space. The New York metro area comes first in the nation in terms of sheer square footage planned to be delivered, with 11.9 million square feet in the pipeline. Chicago manages a 10th spot nationally, with 2.6 million square feet of storage space currently planned and under construction.

Construction Trends Amp Up in the South and Southwest as Increasingly Popular Locations Keep Attracting New Residents

Boasting a reasonable cost of living, a friendly taxation climate and a generally cheaper housing market (for now), southern and southwestern regions experienced a decade of intense economic and population growth, with businesses and people alike relocating to these areas. It may come as no surprise then that Arizona, Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas all have strong representatives among the 20 most active construction markets of the decade.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro area in Arizona saw over 62K new apartments built from 2012 to 2021 along with a 14% population growth. Although new apartments in Phoenix are relatively spacious at 953 square feet on average, self storage remains a popular service among renters due to factors such as moving more frequently or living with roommates. The metro area ranks 5th among the country’s top 100 metros for self storage construction, with over 10M square feet of new space delivered from 2012 to 2021, representing almost 30% of its total inventory. The peak years for self storage development were 2019 through 2021, coinciding with the peak years for apartment construction.

A 10’x10’ self storage unit in Phoenix rents for $127, under the national average of $130 – however, due to solid demand, the local self storage rate increased by almost 27% over the past five years.

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta surpassed the 6-million mark in terms of population over the past decade, acting as a magnet for both new residents and new businesses. The metro area’s evident vigor includes the delivery of 95K new apartments and just under 10M square feet of storage space over the past decade.

The most productive year for self storage development was 2019, when almost 2.2M square feet of new space were delivered. The decade’s peak for apartment construction was 2021, when about 15,200 new units were added to the total inventory.

The average income in the Miami metro area, the top Floridian metro in this ranking, increased by 28% over the past ten years, which refined the residents’ preferences in terms of living standards. Fortunately, the local real estate sector delivered, having added an impressive 106K of new apartments from 2012 to 2021, with an average size of 1,000 square feet. Apart from enjoying quite roomy new homes, renters in Miami can also make use of the local self storage market to further enhance the amount of space they have at home – about 9.2M square feet of storage space were built from 2012 to 2021, bringing the inventory to 6.7 square feet per capita.

Both sectors started the decade modestly in Magic City, but construction started to pick up pace during the second half of the period analyzed. The best year for self storage construction was 2018, when over 2.3M square feet of new space were finalized. Apartment construction thrived in 2021, with over 18,000 new apartments.

Another two Floridian metros where apartment and self storage construction thrived over the past decade are Orlando and Tampa. The past decade saw Orlando increasing its population by 21%, while the local average income also jumped by 28%, and real estate development followed suit. Over 61K new apartments were built in the area, while the self storage sector added almost 5.8M square feet of new space, bringing the per capita inventory to almost 8 square feet.

Tampa built almost as much new self storage space as Orlando, with 2018 the peak year, when over a third of the decade’s inventory was delivered. The peak year for apartment construction was also 2018, when over 6,000 of the metro area’s 45K apartments were delivered, followed closely by 2021, with about 5,800 new apartments.

Denver is the southwest’s success story of the past decade. Centrally located and well connected by air and land with the rest of the country (and the world for that matter), the Denver metro area further diversified its economy, attracting a host of tech companies, including Palantir and Zoom. With talent pouring in and the average income in the area increasing by 31% from 2012 and 2021, it’s hardly surprising that both apartment and self storage construction flourished. The metro area delivered over 79K new apartments during the past 10 years, amounting to 31% of its inventory, and self storage followed suit, with 7M square feet — 35% of the local inventory — being built from 2012 to 2021.

Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia registered the most impressive population growth rate over the past decade among the country’s top 100 metros: its population increased by almost 50%, now reaching 2.7M residents. Under such circumstances, the demand for new housing boomed, and Charlotte built over 66K new apartments (a third of its total inventory) from 2012 to 2021. During the same period, almost 5.5M square feet of self storage space was also delivered, bringing the local per capita inventory approximately in line with the national benchmark.

East Coast Metros Are Working to Mend Their Space-Related Challenges

The big metros on the East Coast built significant volumes of both new apartments and self storage space over the past decade.

The Washington, DC, metro area’s attractiveness is rooted in the ample career opportunities it provides, including good wages – the average income here stands at over $80K per year, following a 26% increase over the past decade. With the metro area gaining more than 600K new residents over the past decade, it’s no wonder that residential construction prospered. Almost 129K new apartments were built during the period analyzed, representing 22% of the total inventory.

Self storage construction had a slightly higher growth rate: a quarter of the local inventory, or 7.6M square feet of new space, were constructed from 2012 to 2021. However, as is the case in most East Coast metros, Washington, DC, still has a modest supply of self storage at 4.8 square feet per capita.

The Philadelphia metro area built self storage at a higher rate than apartments, most likely due to the low inventory of the former in the area. Philadelphia added over 47K new apartments from 2012 to 2021, representing 15% of the local inventory. The almost 6M square feet of new storage space, on the other hand, make up 23% of the inventory, and added up to 4 square feet of space per capita. About a third of the decade’s worth of new self storage space was added in 2021 alone, signaling the growing interest for self storage in the area.

As one of the country’s most competitive housing markets, the Boston metro area is aiming to deliver more housing options. The past decade saw the addition of over 63K new apartments and 5.8M square feet of self storage space, each representing 27% of the local inventory in their respective sectors. Currently, the metro area has a supply of 4.3 square feet of self storage space per capita, with the street rate for a 10’x10’ storage unit in Boston hovering around $164, well above the national average.

LA Leads the West Coast for Self Storage Construction

Living in the Los Angeles metro area comes with perks, including access to a dynamic job market, education opportunities and plenty of entertainment. However, LA is also one of the country’s most expensive areas in terms of housing, even considering the almost 27% increase in average income from 2012 to 2021. Intense apartment construction is aimed at relaxing the tight housing sector, and the metro area added almost 115K new units over the past 10 years. However, many Angelenos who rent deal with a lack of storage space at home: apartments in the metro area have an average size of just 840 square feet. The local self storage sector strives to satisfy the need for more space, with new construction over the past decade amounting to 6.1M square feet. Still, Los Angeles remains an undersupplied market, with only 4.8 square feet of self storage space per capita.

Smaller but Fast-Growing: Here’s Where Self Storage Has Expanded Most

Almost 60% of the country’s top 100 largest metros by population are expanding their inventories at a higher speed than the national average. Over the past 10 years, the self storage inventory increased by 22% nationally – but 58 large metro areas expanded their inventories by more than that.

The Milwaukee-Waukesha metro area in Wisconsin leads in terms of the pace of inventory expansion, with 40% of its 4.2M square feet of local self storage inventory being built over the past decade. Another Wisconsin metro area, Madison, ranks third, having added 37% of its inventory from 2012 to 2021. The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area in North Carolina increased its inventory by 37% as well, reaching over 1.6M square feet of rentable self storage space.

The metros that performed well in terms of inventory expansion speed tend to be one the smaller side, population wise, indicative of the intensifying trend of people moving to less crowded places.

Interestingly enough, out of the 58 metro areas where the self storage inventory growth over the past decade outperformed the national average, 30 metro areas, including Provo-Orem, UT, Boise City, ID, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL, are building new apartments at a remarkably fast pace as well.

Self storage is becoming an important fixture for renters living in large urban hotspots where space is at a premium. With multifamily and self storage construction going hand in hand, renters stand to benefit from a reliable supply of self storage, allowing them to live comfortably and enjoy neat, clutter-free apartments.

Check out the full dataset regarding self storage and apartment construction over the past decade, in the country's top 100 metros:

Self Storage and Multifamily Construction Volumes in Top 100 Metros by Population

#Metro AreaSelf Storage Construction 2012-2021 (sq.ft.)% Self Storage Inventory Built Between 2012 and 2021Self Storage per Capita (sq. ft.)Multifamily Construction 2012-2021 (units)%Multifamily Inventory Built Between 2012 and 2021
1Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX20,106,58828%9.3199,03724%
2New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA17,639,33726%3.4161,69315%
3Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX15,129,98121%9.8142,44620%
4Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI11,443,16823%5.171,98219%
5Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ10,453,18629%7.462,35419%
6Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA9,938,46724%6.695,38019%
7Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL9,163,26322%6.7105,99531%
8Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV7,648,19825%4.8128,98222%
9Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO7,020,49035%6.879,30731%
10Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX6,959,34334%8.798,26936%
11Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI6,375,26431%5.559,31426%
12Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA6,094,55710%4.8114,53518%
13Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD5,952,97423%4.247,51015%
14Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA5,855,94323%6.5103,54932%
15Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL5,784,03928%7.761,59727%
16Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH5,782,70027%4.363,16827%
17Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL5,714,71524%7.445,00421%
18San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX5,556,88526%8.258,81427%
19Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC5,452,83428%7.366,46233%
20Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA4,931,06030%6.645,14426%
21Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD4,293,02929%5.331,88914%
22Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI4,169,56540%6.616,14420%
23Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN4,027,45329%6.848,03732%
24Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN3,888,82225%7.323,71515%
25St. Louis, MO-IL3,607,85224%5.317,25913%
26Raleigh-Cary, NC3,431,54031%7.636,84132%
27Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI3,361,34016%4.98,4124%
28Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV3,133,38416%8.524,37714%
29Kansas City, MO-KS3,117,97421%6.829,67219%
30Oklahoma City, OK3,072,31720%10.615,25216%
31Jacksonville, FL2,936,15221%8.422,32520%
32Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN2,799,99732%6.917,55521%
33Pittsburgh, PA2,796,39925%4.813,71415%
34San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA2,672,68614%5.834,06817%
35Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA2,671,84314%8.110,9728%
36Columbus, OH2,543,78321%5.741,64623%
37Boise City, ID2,478,33224%13.110,22542%
38Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN2,394,57020%5.316,64314%
39Richmond, VA2,340,24625%7.118,35118%
40New Orleans-Metairie, LA2,337,79524%7.99,30415%
41Greenville-Anderson, SC2,302,56732%7.613,31527%
42Charleston-North Charleston, SC2,263,95832%8.824,35339%
43Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA2,263,04431%7.411,80818%
44Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA2,183,7996%7.316,60411%
45Salt Lake City, UT2,182,59723%7.727,44336%
46Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC2,140,81913%8.821,08716%
47North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL2,001,10528%8.212,98437%
48San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,882,24918%5.335,68226%
49Cleveland-Elyria, OH1,874,15221%4.310,5388%
50Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL1,800,71526%8.811,79740%
51San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA1,796,8828%5.154,65223%
52Memphis, TN-MS-AR1,757,61317%7.99,86210%
53Colorado Springs, CO1,668,99123%9.48,25919%
54Provo-Orem, UT1,668,12728%8.58,19256%
55Durham-Chapel Hill, NC1,653,41437%6.813,17424%
56Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA1,631,82537%6.213,81332%
57Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI1,612,75729%5.16,53314%
58Providence-Warwick, RI-MA1,559,18624%3.94,7989%
59Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC1,522,95230%8.35,84622%
60Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA1,470,72726%9.46,79722%
61Birmingham-Hoover, AL1,456,55420%6.67,50113%
62Columbia, SC1,416,86124%7.17,64916%
63Tulsa, OK1,390,91213%10.27,77212%
64Knoxville, TN1,387,48626%66,77616%
65Greensboro-High Point, NC1,370,59628%6.37,41515%
66Rochester, NY1,337,08532%3.86,69811%
67Madison, WI1,245,57837%4.915,97231%
68Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY1,222,57125%5.410,58721%
69Worcester, MA-CT1,185,66730%43,39014%
70Ogden-Clearfield, UT1,173,07816%10.26,02332%
71Dayton-Kettering, OH1,152,86822%6.64,1739%
72Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT1,114,48328%4.211,21933%
73Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR1,072,20015%9.46,86414%
74Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL1,047,31820%7.56,01623%
75Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL1,024,56418%9.34,98121%
76Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY952,86323%3.66,02313%
77Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT950,31617%4.57,94414%
78Albuquerque, NM950,20313%7.75,66811%
79El Paso, TX927,11621%5.27,46116%
80Bakersfield, CA913,56013%7.42,69313%
81New Haven-Milford, CT900,49223%4.53,72911%
82Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL827,55017%6.65,13221%
83Baton Rouge, LA794,99911%8.58,06118%
84Wichita, KS776,27820%63,25910%
85Winston-Salem, NC732,95122%4.94,91615%
86Tucson, AZ699,49710%6.67,47011%
87Syracuse, NY679,35724%4.33,18810%
88McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX668,05317%4.45,09530%
89Toledo, OH626,45419%5.12,8748%
90Akron, OH600,82316%5.33,0169%
91Springfield, MA579,94825%3.31,1335%
92Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA555,39610%74,42115%
93Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA533,00022%4.14,04514%
94Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ525,94116%3.73,94212%
95Fresno, CA411,3346%6.64,0148%
96Jackson, MS316,6057%7.61,4605%
97Stockton, CA219,2104%6.82,02710%
98Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA178,17113%2.54073%
99Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY158,6205%4.92,98313%
100Honolulu, HI108,9824%2.43,88817%
Source: RentCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix

Methodology

RentCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation, completed this analysis.

To compile this report, we analyzed Yardi Matrix self storage and multifamily construction data from 2012 to 2021 across the largest 100 US metros by population. Apartment data is related to rental units in buildings with 50 or more units. Self storage square footage refers to rentable space.

We ranked the metros based on the volume of self storage construction over the past decade.

Data on population comes from the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Additionally, we turned to the Bureau of Labor Statistics to extract data on the average wage.

Fair use and redistribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content, but we do require a link in return for attribution purposes.

Maria Gatea
Maria Gatea
Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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