The Self-Storage Surge: Capitalizing on the Baby Boomer Downsize

The baby boomer generation, those born in the post-World War II era from 1946 to 1964, represents a substantial demographic turning point in U.S. history. Comprising roughly 77 million individuals, this cohort has significantly influenced supply and demand trends throughout its lifecycle. Now, as they transition into retirement, not only are they exerting pressure on social systems like Social Security and Medicare, but they're also poised to cause a seismic shift in the self-storage industry.

A New Chapter for Baby Boomers Means a Boon for Self-Storage

An estimated 60% of baby boomers are expected to move from their current homes into smaller living spaces as they retire, sparking a massive demand for self-storage solutions. This generation has amassed a wealth of personal belongings over the years, with emotional ties to many items that they're not willing to part with. If even a fraction of retiring boomers opt for self-storage, we could see a significant tightening in the current vacancy market.

The Financial Feasibility Factor

The economic footprint of the baby boomer generation is substantial; they hold approximately 67% of the United States' assets. The financial capability of this demographic means that the additional expense of self-storage, which could range from $100 to $200 a month, is well within their means. Choosing to preserve cherished family heirlooms and seasonal decorations in a self-storage unit will be a natural decision for many.

Longevity and Lifestyle: A Self-Storage Perfect Storm

Baby boomers are living longer and healthier lives, with a considerable gap between retirement age and life expectancy. The anticipated need for self-storage will not be a fleeting trend but a sustained demand that could span nearly two decades. For self-storage facility owners, this is a forecast for stable and prolonged growth—a wave of opportunity that is ripe for the riding.

Preferring Stability Over Speculation

Reflecting on past dealings, one lesson stands out: the allure of stable, lower-risk investments over those with higher risk and complexity. While ventures that involve major renovations or intensive capital injections can indeed yield significant returns, they come with considerable risk and a burden on resources. Conversely, investing in a stabilized self-storage facility that caters to this burgeoning market of downsizing boomers presents an opportunity for steady growth without the volatility.

Looking Ahead: The Next Big Boom

The imminent retirement of the baby boomer generation is more than a newsworthy event; it's a harbinger of a lucrative era for the self-storage industry. We are on the cusp of what could be the next great expansion phase, driven by a demographic tidal wave seeking to balance the new realities of retirement with a lifetime of possessions.

For investors, this represents a clarion call to consider the long-term rewards of serving the storage needs of one of the largest population segments. As baby boomers reshape the landscape of retirement, the self-storage industry stands to gain significantly, making it an investment opportunity that's hard to overlook.

Frank Rolfe has been an active self-storage investor for around two decades, with self-storage units in many states throughout the U.S. His nuts and bolts knowledge of what makes for a successful self-storage facility has led to a three-decade career without a single failed property.