The U.S. economy is in anarchy. The stock market is plunging, oil is collapsing, and world markets are in jeopardy. So where can you invest in a troubled world? The answer is self-storage. It’s one of the few niches that actually performs as well in times of turmoil as it does in times of economic vibrancy.

Performs well in times of crisis

When you lose your job and have to move, you put your belongings and furniture in a self-storage locker. When you get evicted from your house, you put your material goods in self-storage. In times of crisis, all roads lead to the self-storage facility. As a result, the demand for self-storage is always high during recessions and depressions.

Considered a necessity, not a luxury

Although self-storage began as a tool for wealthy people to store their abundance of goods, it has changed over the years from a luxury to a necessity. Most Americans have a self-storage unit to keep the things that they can’t get rid of, yet don’t fit in their homes. Christmas decorations, family antiques, there are a thousand uses that can’t be avoided.

Great revenue diversity

Self-storage facilities are made up of tens and hundreds of individual income units. Unlike a shopping center, which only has a handful of tenants and go bankrupt if even one leaves, self-storage facilities have a huge diversity of tenants, so that you can lose several and still be on budget. And the power of volume also works when you raise rent. If you have a 100 unit facility and raise the rent $10 per month, you have an extra $1,000 per month in your pocket. If you owned that shopping center and raised the rent $10 per month, you’d have an extra $50.

Low operating costs

Nobody lives in a self-storage facility (except maybe the manager) so there is very little utility cost. The typical facility is made of durable metal and there are no expensive amenities to maintain. Other than road repair, paint, replacing roll-up doors occasionally and a small amount of electricity, the operating costs on a self-storage facility is relatively low, and this gives the owner much greater profit margins.

Can be purchased at reasonable rates of return

You can buy self-storage facilities at attractive cap rate levels – around 8% or so. This gives the buyer a healthy margin of profitability that protects the owner from interest rate increases or reductions in occupancy. Unlike apartment complexes that sell for around 5% cap rates, self-storage facilities have good rates of return that provide a protective barrier to unexpected bumps in the road.


Self-storage facilities are an excellent hedge to recession, yet also the correct choice for periods of economic prosperity. It’s like real estate with shock-absorbers against economic declines, yet a strong engine to take advantage of economic opportunities. The world can fall to pieces, but self-storage facilities stay solid performers as income properties. At times like these, that’s a very important quality.

By Frank Rolfe
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. For more information on investing in self storage facilities go to

How To Make Money In The Self-Storage Industry

There is a ton of bad information out there on the self-storage or mini-storage industry. Contrary to what you may read, there is virtually no money in building new facilities or buying them at a 7% cap rate. If you really want to make money in self-storage, you have to put in significantly more work, and follow a different game plan entirely. Buying an established facility with good occupancy at market rents will not lead to great riches only endless concern over making the note payment. The way to success is much more basic. Continue reading


Self Shortage Units are attractive to both buyers and lenders. Operating and maintenance costs are low and the ROI (return on investment) is comparable or higher than multi-family units and mobile home parks, which we also finance. The initial investment is 1/4 to 1/3 of other investments, and ongoing improvements are minimal. With our economy constantly evolving and the job market constantly changing due to jobs being eliminated, Self Storage Units are in demand because people are having to relocate in order to seek new opportunities. Continue reading


Buying a self-storage facility is a lot harder than you think, particularly if you want to make money with it. Over the years, there are some basic traits that separate winning facilities from losers. And that genetic code is hard to break.

There are many people who will tell you all about how to buy a self-storage facility, in order to sell you a book, course or boot camp. But they really have either limited or no experience. The concepts we’re going to tell you here are based on real-life information and plenty of it from operating one of the largest websites devoted to the industry. And it may be a lot different from what you’ve heard before.  Continue reading

Why You Can’t Manage A Self-Storage Facility From Just A Kiosk

There is urban legend going around, created by some gurus trying to sell their books, that you can manage an entire self-storage facility from a kiosk basically a walk-up automated teller like an ATM machine. Although the concept of having a robot manage a self-storage facility is attractive from a cost-savings and low management perspective, it is, unfortunately, a fantasy with about as much practicality as the photon torpedo out of Star Trek.

The reasons you cannot manage a self-storage facility from a kiosk are numerous: Continue reading

Money Talks What Is The NOI On The Property

One of the first things I ask a client during our initial conversation is how much is the loan amount and what is the NOI on the property?

Most of the time this separates the first time buyers from the seasoned pros by whether or not they know what I am referring to. When they hesitate, hem and haw with crickets resounding in the distance, I know they have no idea of what I’m talking about but 9 out of 10 will chirp up.

Well, it grossed $300,000.00 last year! Continue reading

Is Self Storage Beneficial for Businesses and Offices?

Self Storage companies provide storage space to home users where they can store personal items like furniture and other belongings to make space at home. Self storage facilities can also be used for commercial purposes by businesses and offices to store extra equipment, machinery and furniture lying around the office. Storing stock on your commercial premises can make your office look more like a warehouse instead of business premises. This is when you need to contact a storage company that can take care of your storage needs. Continue reading

Personal Self Storage Solutions for Home Owners and Students

Self storage companies provide storage space to residential and home users who look for extra storage space to store their belongings. Personal self storage companies can take care of all your storage needs, whether you want to store your sporting good, seasonal possessions, valuables, old piece of furniture or a piano, student storage possessions or belongings and furniture at home which you need to clear to de-clutter your home for a sale or for moving to a new house. Continue reading

Rate Shopping…Is That Your Lowest Rate??

I’ve often said that if I had a dollar for each time I am asked during the year…

So…what’s your lowest rate?’   A mortgage professional can tell that a client is shopping rate only.  Since we work with clients all over the country and can’t see you on the phone, we can tell by the questions you ask and the answers you provide.

Is it a purchase or refinance?

How much did you invest?

How long have you owned the property? Continue reading