In this day and age, humans are accumulating possessions like never before. The L.A. Times reported in 2014 that the average home in America houses 300,000 items, which is more than our ancestors would have ever imagined.
The size of the average home has nearly tripled in the last 50 years. Despite this size, nearly one in 10 rent off-site storage—making it the fastest growing real estate industry in the past 40 years.
We decided to try to identify the cities most likely to hoard based on the search volume of storage-related terms. We narrowed it down to the top 10 cities and tried to deduce why these cities topped our list.
Four of the cities that broke the top 10 on our list were in Florida and nearly all of them were in the South. Lack of basements may have something to do with the need for extra storage, although that’s not the case for everyone on our list.
The average home sizes we were able to track down didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on our findings, although we did notice that all of the cities in our top ten have less than 55 percent owner-occupancy. This means that around half of the people in most of these cities are renting, compared to 36 percent of people nationwide.
Each city on the list has between 500 and 1,000 people per 100,000 people searching for storage units in their area. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions when it comes to why.
1. Las Vegas, NV: The average home size in Las Vegas is 2,075 square feet, which seems like plenty of space to store your belongings. However, a whopping 1,005 people out of every 100,000 are searching for a storage unit in Sin City. Could the lifestyle of excess the city is known for be causing them to accumulate more household items?
About half of people in Las Vegas are renting, as only 52 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied. Compare that to 64 percent nationwide, and it’s not a huge difference. Perhaps the high number of tourists and seasonal workers contributes to the need for storage.
Additionally, basements in this area are not common because of the sedimentary layer of rock that is expensive to drill through—it’s cheaper to buy more land and expand above ground.
2. Lubbock, Texas: Surrounded by miles of open road on all sides, the West Texas town of Lubbock is best known for its university, Texas Tech. They scored high on our list with 871 in every 100,000 people looking into storage units.
About half of people in Lubbock are renting, as only 53 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied. This is a similar number to Las Vegas and results are inconclusive as to whether this has a large effect on our numbers.
Since there is such a large population of college students, it’s easy to imagine that they need a place to store their belongings during the summer, accounting for the high number. Basements here are also rare because higher frost line and limestone beneath the earth’s surface make it an unnecessary expense.
3. Orlando, FL: The first of four Florida cities to crack the top ten, it’s easier to understand how Orlando made the list. Well over half of the people in Orlando are renting, as only 36 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied.
The average home size is 2,237 square feet, which is still quite spacious, but a large tourist and snowbird population mean that many of their residents may not live there year round.
What are snowbirds? Generally, these are retirees who move south for half of the year to the warmer climate in the south.
Additionally, there are few basements in Florida because of the high water tables and no frost lines to dig below.
4. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Similar to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale is home to a large snowbird population who migrate south for the winter, many of them storing their belongings when they head north for the summer.
About half of people in Fort Lauderdale are renting, as 52 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied. There is also a lack of basements in Fort Lauderdale, as with the rest of Florida. The lack of frost lines and high water tables would make it nearly impossible to keep a basement.
5. Irving, Texas: Irving, a suburb of Dallas, is home to a plethora of big businesses and therefore many people live in high-rise and condo communities. There is also a large rental community with only 38 percent of the housing population being owner-occupied.
Those accumulating a wealth of possessions are looking for places to store it because 629 in every 100,000 people are in need of storage. Those who are living in traditional homes usually don’t have basements, as the layer of hard limestone under the surface there makes it expensive to add extra storage beneath houses here.
6. Vancouver, WA: Vancouver is extremely close to Portland, being the more suburban of the two. While the homes in Vancouver are usually bigger and many of them have basements, there are still a large number of people searching for storage units here—629 out of every 100,000 to be precise.
A little more than half of the population of Vancouver are renting, with 48 percent of the housing there being owner-occupied. It’s possible that the people of Vancouver just accumulate more items than the average city.
A recent study found that seven percent of their Downtown Eastside single room occupancy units contain excessive clutter. This has been prompting researchers to determine that their city has a higher than average amount of individuals with hoarding disorder.
7. Columbia, SC: Home to the University of South Carolina, students make up a large portion of the Columbia population, possibly contributing to the need for storage. Like many other cities in the south, fewer homes are able to dig basements, also contributing to the lack of storage.
With around 629 out of every 100,000 people searching for storage units online, their desire for extra storage sits at around the same level as Irving and Vancouver. About half of people in Columbia are renting, as only 45 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied.
8. Miami, FL: 595 of every 100,000 people in Miami are on the hunt for a storage unit. The urban environment and lack of basements are likely contributors to this, with the average home size sitting at around 1,160 square feet.
There is also a large snowbird population that winters in Miami, and it’s probable that they would need to store things during the summer. While many of these people may own homes, there is a large part of the population who doesn’t, as only 31 percent of the housing in Miami is owner-occupied. This gives Miami the largest amount of renters on our list.
9. Fort Collins, CO: The town of Fort Collins, Colorado, is home to Colorado State University. Since students make up about a sixth of the population, it’s not outlandish to assume that many of these students require storage. 568 in every 100,000 citizens are on the hunt for storage units.
About half of people in Fort Collins are renting, as only 54 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied. While this is one of the higher home ownership percentages on our list, it still sits below the national average of 64 percent.
10. Tampa, FL: Another popular snowbird and tourist destination, 556 out of every 100,000 Tampa citizens are in need of extra storage. Like the other Florida cities on our list, basements are extremely uncommon, and a large population of winter migrants makes storing things externally very convenient.
About half of people in Tampa are renting, as only 49 percent of the housing there is owner-occupied. This could also contribute to the lack of storage, as residents have too many items for apartments, or want to keep things stored until they move to larger, more permanent homes.
With the extreme amount of items in the American household, it’s easy to see why people would seek extra storage. A storage unit can be a great way to store extra items you need, but don’t want to get rid of.
De-cluttering by transferring your items to a storage unit can feel great! However, if you suspect yourself or someone you know of compulsive hoarding, please reach out to an expert for help.
Methodology: We measured the search volume of “self-storage” for 200 of the most populated US cities. The top 10 made our list.