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How Increased State-to-State Migration is Impacting the Self-Storage Industry

Feb 21, 2023

Capturing Market Growth with Smart Technology

Studies are showing that more and more people are moving across the United States for a variety of reasons, one of the most recent ones being record-high home prices in 2022. The attractive ROI encouraged many Americans to downsize or even temporarily move in with family members while they sat on a profit and looked for their dream home. No matter what's driving the "big move", increased state-to-state migration is fueling the demand for self-storage facilities around the country.

Migration Patterns Affecting Self-Storage Trends

Research conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau supports that an increased amount of Americans are uprooting and moving across states. In fact, many areas in the United States saw migration trends reflecting an increase in net domestic migration in 2020-2021 (Figure 2) compared to the previous year, 2019-2020 (Figure 1). While there were high in-migration rates across the entire country, they were particularly strong in the Midwest, Northeast, and South.

Net Domestic Migration Figure 1

Net Domestic Migration Figure 2

How Moving Fuels Self-Storage Demand

Comparable to the famous quote, "expect the unexpected", lifestyle changes can occur at any time and they often happen when you least expect them. From running into your soul mate in the bread aisle at the grocery store to global pandemics that result in high unemployment rates. There are 4 common life changes that are known for driving the demand in self-storage, and self-storage experts refer to them as the 4Ds.

4Ds of Self-Storage: 

  • Downsizing
  • Divorce
  • Dislocation
  • Death

Whether it's a retiree downsizing or a business professional moving for work, lifestyle changes initiate "big moves". If you've ever moved before, no matter how far, you know it's not a particularly fun process and it takes a lot of work. Moving necessitates the need for additional space for accumulated property and this is why many people turn towards self-storage.

How to Attract New Customers In the Competitive Self-Storage Marketplace

It's important that your self-storage facility can keep up with population growth, and that you're able to attract and retain new tenants. Some industry experts advise maintaining an 80-85% occupancy rate. This ensures you have enough inventory to stay on top of the growing self-storage market and it gives you the leverage needed to increase rental rates. In addition to having enough inventory, there are certain steps you can take and initiatives you can implement to attract new renters to your self-storage facility.

The Adoption of Self-Storage Technology

Adopting new technology into your self-storage business plan can help attract and retain today's consumers. This is because today's consumer is obsessed with customer-driven processes. Think of Amazon for example and how many people prefer shopping on Prime rather than in person. While renting a storage unit at a traditionally managed facility, automated self-storage facilities can do this under one with tenant-driven onboarding processes. 

Automated self-storage facilities allow the customer to view rates and availability online, select a unit, pay for the unit, and gain immediate access to the facility and their unit door with zero barriers standing in their way. This means they can rent a unit and move in without ever needing to speak to a site manager. Not only does this bring an unrivaled level of customer experience to the equation, but it makes self-storage owners' and operators' lives so much easier too.

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