[ by Elizabeth Jespersen ] 

Last month, SpareFoot released the first edition of the Storage Trends Quarterly report. The cool thing about self-storage industry performance – yes, there’s really something cool about this – is how it lines up with larger economic trends. After all, moving and education are among the biggest reasons people invest in self-storage— two important indicators of the economy’s overall well-being. So, what do all of our numbers and diagrams about storage really mean from a big-picture perspective?

A whopping 58.6 percent of survey-takers cited “Moving” as their reason for needing storage. Makes sense, as moving can get messy, and we can only fit so much of our lives in the back of a truck.

Brace yourself if you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, because I’ve got bad news: Our economy isn’t so great. The majority of us can’t afford to be too picky these days when it comes to jobs, so it’s becoming more common for people to end up relocating for work. We’re moving, so we need storage.

I find it interesting that the top five fastest-growing storage markets listed in the report are cities in western and southern states. It turns out that this mirrors the recent migratory patterns of people moving from northeastern states to western and southern states, where the unemployment rates seem to be slightly less terrifying.

Three of the five fastest-growing storage markets made the top 10 in CNBC’s list of America’s top states for job creation: Texas (#1), Washington (#7), and Virginia (#8).

Meanwhile, much of this moving and resulting self-storage demand can be traced to the younger generations’ tendency to move more often in our globalizing landscape. It’s no longer the cultural norm to stay in one place your whole life, and as a result, twenty- and thirty-somethings aren’t as tied down to their hometowns as older generations have been. Many of us expect to have lived in several different places by the time we truly settle down.

This complements the second most common reason for renting self-storage: 13 percent of surveyed customers are students in between housing or off studying abroad. The numbers of students studying abroad have actually increased despite downward turns in the economy. To keep up with the competitive post-graduation job market, students are encouraged to pursue a global education now more than ever.

It seems that as our culture evolves, becoming more mobile and transitory, the greater the storage industry prospers. And there you have it: Storage is cool.