Self storage has grown in popularity over the past decade, and it’s proving its usefulness during times of transition. Changing residences, downsizing or moving in with your family to form a multigenerational household are just some of the instances when self storage is typically used. As these scenarios and others tend to fluctuate, so does the demand for self storage. StorageCafe ran a survey asking about 18K people how they use self storage. The survey investigates the main reasons for turning to self storage, most commonly stored items, most popular unit sizes and which cities showed the highest interest in self storage, among other data.

DEEPER DIVE: Arizona self-storage sector lowers rents — except for boomtown Peoria

According to the survey, more than a fifth of Americans rent self storage, and 15% more of them intend to use it in the future. With apartments losing space, it’s no wonder self storage continues to be an in-demand service. In 2023, about 53M square feet of self storage space is projected to be delivered in the United States, an indication that the industry sees continuing future demand.

Phoenix registers record growth for interest in self storage 

As Arizonan cities became relocation destinations thanks to job opportunities, excellent living conditions and more, self storage followed suit and registered increased demand in places such as Phoenix, Gilbert and Mesa. During the pandemic and afterwards, interest in self storage not only remained steady, but also went up aided by the remote work trend, which seems to solidify its presence nationwide. 

This trend seems to be true in the case of Phoenix, where remote workers made up 11.5% of the workforce, according to US Census data. As a result, self storage internet searches hiked considerably in Phoenix, climbing 236% in 2022 compared to 2019, as shown by the 8K industry-specific online searches, putting Phoenix in the lead among other Arizonan cities for self storage interest. This also translated to 5.1 monthly searches per 1,000 residents in 2022. 

Local developers are responding to the increased demand, with over 386K square feet of self storage slated to be added in 2023 to the local inventory, which already boasts an impressive 10M+ square feet of self storage space. The high existing inventory combined with soaring demandSuch high  is putting downward pressure on rents, which makes renting a self storage unit in Phoenix affordable, at $124 per month, below the national average for a standard 10’x10’ unit. 

Other Arizona cities also see a marked uptick in self storage demand 

Tucson, AZ, comes in second for self storage interest, with a little over 5K online searches for the service, a 15% increase in 2022 versus 2019. Although interest in self storage has shown a more modest growth rate here, average monthly Google searches were more than 9 per 1,000 locals in 2022, almost double the rate in Phoenix. The high local interest in self storage translates to competitive rates, with a Tucson self storage unit renting for $116 per month. 

Another Arizonan city that’s become a magnet for newcomers, Mesa averaged over 2,800 monthly Google searches in 2022. Compared to 2019, online interest for self storage shot up 263% within the following three years. As it turns out, Mesa saw the one of highest growth rates for internet searches related to self storage. In the past five years, population increased by 3.8%, which partially explains the spike in self storage interest. Additionally, almost 12% of employed locals work remotely, creating additional demand for the local self storage industry.

Following not far behind, Tempe, AZ, boasted over 2,100 monthly Google searches related to self storage in 2022. When you factor in population, there were close to 12 self storage Google searches per 1,000 people here, making Tempe the Arizonan city with the most internet searches for self storage related to population. Looking at the 2019-2022 period, internet interest for the service went up a respectable 110%, indicating a growing demand for the service. Over 13% of the local workforce is in a remote work setup. This makes self storage an essential service, helping Tempe residents better manage their living spaces as they carve out space for the home office. Excess household items can sit in a storage unit, which costs $121 per month in Tempe.

Circling back to the Phoenix area, Scottsdale also saw significant search volumes for self storage in 2022 — 1,870 per month or 7.7 per 1,000 residents. Looking back to 2019, online interest for self storage grew by 137%, following the skyrocketing growth trend of other cities in the state. Scottsdale is also a popular moving destination, not only for snowbirds, but also for young professionals. A whopping 22.4% of workers embraced the remote work trend here, making self storage a relevant service. A Scottsdale self storage unit rents for $174 per month.

Gilbert residents also have a vested interest in self storage, with online searches related to the term averaging upwards of 1,700 per month in 2022. When you factor in population, Gilbert registered 6.3 self storage-specific Google searches per 1,000 locals each month in 2022. For the 2019-2022 period, internet searches for the service more than tripled, the highest uptick in interest for self storage among Arizonan cities considered. Increased demand came from all the newcomers moving here — population saw a staggering 13% jump in the past five years. Additionally, a significant percentage of Gilbert workers (17%) prefer the remote work setup, further fueling the demand for self storage. 

Gilbert’s neighbor Chandler follows in the footsteps of the Phoenix area in terms of self storage interest, registering more than 1,600 monthly online searches for the service in 2022. At a granular level, there were close to 6 searches per 1,000 locals each month in 2022. Compared to 2019, online interest for the service more than doubled (230%) in 2022, a sign that self storage is a popular service. Movers are partially responsible for the increased demand, with Chandler seeing its population grow by 11% in the past five years.