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The Future of Self Storage

Tim Schlee | December 6, 2013 @ 9:50 AM

The world is a big place. Fortunately for self storage renters, the industry is starting to catch on. For decades it’s been almost entirely an American industry, but now markets are expanding in other places. There are more than 50,000 self storage facilities in the U.S., more locations than McDonald’s, Subway, and Jack-in-the-Box combined. The next highest country is Canada with a paltry 3,000. And with 2.3 billion square feet of storage space here in the U.S., there might not be a lot of room for growth. Instead, storage facility operators and their customers might start looking elsewhere. Where would you like to store your things?


A Chinese self storage facility. Chinese mini storage. Courtesy of If you like sea food, fried rice, and really crowded subways, you might consider storing your stuff in a country like China or Japan. The self storage industry was all but nonexistent in Asia only ten years ago, but now it’s booming. Renting space is expensive, so many families can’t afford homes large enough for all their possessions and businesses need to make their spaces as economical as possible. The result is an increased interest in self storage. Since real estate is so expensive, however, most storage facilities are converted from old office buildings and other existing infrastructure.


A kangaroo and its young. A kangaroo mother storing its young. Courtesy of National Geographic. Sure, there are lots of deadly snakes and really large reptiles, but at least it’s also really, really hot. Australia’s 1.1 square feet of self storage per person might pale in comparison to the United States’ 7.4, but it’s a lot more than Europe, where the self storage industry has never managed to take off. The United Kingdom boasts Europe’s largest self storage industry, but there you’ll barely find half a square foot of space per person. In Australia, you’ll have at least enough room for your Foster’s and baby-back ribs.

South America

A beach in Brazil. A beach in Brazil. Courtesy of CNN. Surfboards won’t store themselves. Whether you’re touring the beaches or trekking through the mountains, you’ll need to put your things somewhere. The self storage industry is still fairly small here, but South America did just have its first trade show. Where could you find a trade show more exciting than in Rio? Outer Space The moon. The moon. Courtesy of NASA. Why not? There’s tons of room. If we can put satellites into orbit, then we can put storage containers into orbit. It might be unreasonable now, but if space travel ever becomes cheaper, it’s the logical progression of events. In 100 years, we might see people making excursions to the ISSS – the International Self Storage Station. The moon would make a great place for self storage as well. It’s not too far away, but it’s also less than ideal for human habitation, so what else would we do with it? Plus, moon land is selling for only $40 an acre. We could even try other planets, although we might want to avoid the gas giants. Wherever you want to go, whether it’s across the block, across the world, or even across the solar system – you’ll be able to find a self storage unit. Eventually. And if you are planning a trip out of the country, be sure to check out our guide to living abroad. Sadly, we don’t have one for space travel yet.

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