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What’s With All the Storage Units?

What’s With All the Storage Units?

December 09, 2021

America’s Love Affair with Temporary Storage

Do you ever get excited when you see a new construction going up close to your house or on your route home from work?

Anticipation builds. The entire family becomes hopeful.

Maybe it will be a more convenient grocery store or an interesting retail chain. Maybe, just maybe, it will be an exciting new restaurant.

While occasionally our dreams come true, and we suddenly have a new Chick-fil-A in the neighborhood, more often the building project turns out to be underwhelming, or even disappointing.

Another nondescript office building or self-service car wash…or a new collection of temporary storage units, concrete boxes with miniature garage doors surrounded by an imposing fence.

What’s with all the storage units?

According to a survey conducted by the Self-Storage Association (who knew?), 1 in 10 U.S. households rent a storage unit. That’s compared to 1 in 17 just 15 years ago.

In 2021, there are almost 60,000 self-storage facilities in the United States. The entire rest of the world (outside of the US and Canada) has only 10,000 similar facilities.

In 2018, Americans spent $5 billion building new storage facilities, compared to only $241 million in 2011. And even with this staggering increase in new capacity, occupancy rates still average over 90%, and industry analysts believe there will be a shortage of facilities for the foreseeable future. 

Why so many?

Why do we have more storage unit facilities than the total number of McDonald’s, Subways and Starbucks in this country combined? 

How did we shift from seeing temporary storage as just that: additional storage to assist with a temporary situation, like preparing for a move, assisting with a home renovation, or holding furniture until a child moves out of the dorm?

For many of us, one or more temporary storage units aren’t temporary at all. They have simply become an extension of our closet or attic space where we can just keep more stuff.

While there are many factors contributing to these trends, it’s certainly true that Americans in their 40s and 50s have more wealth and disposable income than ever before. Collecting and accumulating has really become an American pastime, and we excel at it.

The “storage unit lifestyle” has even fueled an entire entertainment genre. 15 years ago, who could have predicted an article listing the 4 Best Storage Shows on TV would exist on the internet? 

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers represent almost 80% of those renting self-storage. True, they are the ones typically with the most stuff, but this age group is also considering important, life-changing issues, like downsizing, becoming “empty nesters” and saving important items and heirlooms for the next generation.

Fight Storage Wars or Prepare for Post-Retirement?

Securing a family storage unit could be considered a leading indicator as a couple transitions into a different stage of life. Sometimes, it may be easier to address the excess stuff cluttering up the house than some of the more important issues that you don’t see in the garage every morning when you try to get in your car.

Many people think that putting money away during your 20s, 30s and 40s is all there is to ensuring comfortable living in retirement. While saving for the future is a big part of being prepared, true financial planning involves considering and making plans in many other areas, like:

  • Retirement income planning
  • Tax-savings strategies
  • Estate planning
  • Maximizing social security benefits
  • Developing a plan for long-term healthcare

In fact, a recent survey by the Insured Retirement Institute found that 85 percent of Baby Boomers have not considered long-term healthcare costs in their retirement planning.

Without a plan for a long-term health event, many couples are forced to divert money they expected to pass on to their children or donate to charitable organizations to pay for in-home caregivers or assisted living.

Building a retirement nest egg is certainly half the battle, but the only way to obtain true financial confidence is to build a comprehensive financial plan. It might be time to spend a little less effort on the storage wars and fight the real battles to secure financial victory.

Your Guide to Financial Confidence

If you can relate to this blog post, you’re probably in need of a Financial Advisor. At TrueWealth, our Senior Financial Advisor, Ken Askew specializes in creating personalized financial plans for professionals in their 50s and 60s.

Imagine no longer avoiding those big life decisions and plans (or all of that stuff in your storage units). Think about how having all of your financial ducks in a row could free you up to leave the legacy your family and your community needs.

Talk to Ken Askew today!

Advisory Services offered through TrueWealth Advisors LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Concourse Financial Group Securities Inc., a member of FINRA and SIPC. TrueWealth Advisors LLC, is independent of Concourse Financial Group Securities Inc.