Self-Storage Business

Was wondering if anyone has any luck with running their own self-storage business…

To me it seems like another good passive means of controlling real estate.

I’m currently renting a space myself and each time I go over to the place it seems like it could definately be a good business…especially if the land was bought cheap…as at a tax sale when someone has gone delinquent on their property’s taxes.

If someone has info on how to construct these concrete, cinder block and metal sheeting structures…please let me know.


I heard it is one of the best businesses to get into regarding CF. Another one I heard was a car wash.

I have a friend building one right now. It’s 140 single story units including 50 indoor temperature controlled units. My company is managing the project. I’m not sure what kind of info your looking for as far as “how to construct…” but I can try to help you out if you have a more specific question.

It’s a good business, not a great one. It can get better if you become a U-Haul outlet or something similar along with selling packing/ moving supplies. My dumb friend decided it would be better to buy a hillside to put this place on so it would need to be excavated or the units on the lower end would fill up like fish tanks.

Small complexes are NOT cost effective.

I’ve heard it is the best business to put on a piece of vacant land that you want to hold for long-term appreaciation…


You can expect to spend a minimum of 10k per unit constructed depending on size. There are plenty of companies that will finance and build the units. I would suggest that you come up with at least 250k of your own funds and then advertise for a partner or silent partner such as a VC or AI. for the rest. In order to run it successfully it is going to take capital pure and simple. Once you have acquired the funds you can get with your local REI club and I’m sure someone will have a parcel of land that will suit your needs. And as the Donald says.

“It’s not about location location location but value value value.”

I hope that this helps.


My friend will be paying about $14,300/ unit not including the land. Average monthly rent will be $115/month or $1,380/ year. Management will be high, advertising will be high, vacancies will be high. Not the deal of the decade for me.

I’d be more inclined to own one for the reason Keith mentions, just keep the storage units there as a placeholder.


Are you saying that each individual 8 foot X 8 foot storage unit is $14,000??? If so, I’m getting out of REI and starting a storage building fabrication company!!!

A few years ago, I built a 40 X 64 shop. I did all the work myself, but only had about $14,000 in the whole thing!


That $14,000 includes EVERYTHING. Excavating, paving, drainage, 8 foot iron fence/ gate, surveillance, alarm, front office, and the actual steel and concrete units.

In my neck of the woods they are popping up like weeds. I can’t see how they make a profit. ??? There are just so many of them.

My family is involved in car washes and I’m very familiar with storage…Both take huge amounts of cash and the storage business has ALOT of competition here in NY and surrounding boroughs…Plus the cost of land is what hinders most from doing this type of business…Car washes are cash cows but keep in mind it’s very much a weather related business and depending on the area how much you get per car varies greatly…Also usually the person who makes the most money is the landlord/property owner of the car wash…Rents are insane for a car wash and storage is only a good business in highly populated areas where people are mostly stuffed into apartment buildings and have no where to store junk…Typically car washes in my area are sold without the property and can go for 1-4 million…If you are going to have a car wash and have the room you most definitely want an oil change facility and a detail center…Oil changes can get close to $40-50 per car and quickly ring up 10k per week in sales…People come in for an oil change and then wipers,radiator flush,transmission filter change…Before they know it the person dropped a $100 on stuff that really wasn’t necessary…If you have the land most equipment manufactures will take %10 down and build out your car wash and finance the rest…

I have read books & done research on both car washes & self storage, and I even have a patent pending related to the design of a car wash…though I don’t know if I’ll ever use it; I really just did it for the fun of it…or to say “hey, I have a patent”. LOL.

Both are highly profitable businesses if done right. Most people tend to forget the basics of business when it comes to these things though…keep your costs to a bare, bare minimum and maximize your profits. You have lots of Joe’s with cash who come along and blow $500,000 to $1,000,000 on a self serve car wash…and of course they usually just break even, sell it for a loss or go bankrupt. I’m in the process of saving up cash over the next few years…and I may very well pickup a few of these car washes myself for 1/2 of what they cost to construct.

$14000 per unit for a self storage business is way, way too much in my opinion. But I’m in a different area too, where the land is flat & cheap - yet we still have lots of people, so it’s really a matter of laying the foundation and erecting the steel building. I can buy the land, and hire my own contractors to do the work at a fraction of $14000 per unit…welll under 1/4 that price. Wow.

$14,300/ unit not including land is reasonable in my area. The footprint of the facility I’m working on has an outer ring/square of units facing inward with a gap where the gate and front office are. Then there are 2 “islands” inside the square with the exterior units facing outward. It has man doors every 10 units on the “islands” to get into the center, where it’s climate controlled.

10 inches of asphalt between the units and 12 inches of concrete where the buildings will be constructed. Underneath is a labyrinth of drainage pipes. Exterior of all the buildings are stacked block for security and aesthetics. Corrugated or sheet metal exterior would of been cheaper but easy to damage and cut through as well. Between the outer fence and outer square of units there will be a perimeter of sand approximately 8 feet wide with photoelectric beam posts. Another thing this one will have that most don’t are hydraulic bollards just behind the gate that will be raised at closing time. This facility will certainly be the most secure self storage place I know of, but not as secure as I’d have it be if I were paying.

Hey, how bout some land mines in the sand? :o


With crazy security like I hope they are getting premium rates for security.

Hey, how bout some land mines in the sand?

I would choose just the sand (quick sand) it would save on the clean-up caused by the land mines. They tend to be very messy. 8)

If I were running the show, I’d have a 30 foot wide perimeter of a concertina wire jungle with a daisy chain of claymores for anyone with the nerve to cut the razor wire or get tangled up in it. Then somewhere in the middle of the concertina wire I’d have anti tank mines for someone attempting to penetrate via an armored vehicle. I’d want spot lights illuminating and blinding anything within 100 meters of the perimeter to. Of course, I’d have 3 guard towers with crew served machine guns as well as a tank and helicopter gunship patrol. ;D

Some of the basic security for most storage facilities are just surveillance, gates, fence, and alarms. The gate access code corresponds to the individual units magnetic alarm contact. When you enter the code at the gate, it disarms the alarmed storage unit, when you exit the facility and re-enter the code, it arms the alarm for the unit. That way if someone renting a storage unit is in the facility, they can only open their own unit without the alarm going off. That guards against amateurs…

This developers facility with a little extra security will be the selling point. It’s in a crowded self storage market and this will help him stand out. He’ll be charging about 12-15% more per unit because of the ‘extras’.