Before someone buys a $200,000 RV and hits the road, there’s something the owner needs to take care of—finding the best storage for the brand-new toy.
Across the country, some owners of pricey RVs and boats are trying to protect their investments by seeking alternatives to traditional storage. And some entrepreneurs are stepping up to meet the demand.
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When David Winters searched the Internet about 20 years ago, information about storage condos that people can buy or rent to store boats and RVs was nonexistent. Now, 60 percent to 70 percent of cities have storage condos, said Winters, president of Storage Condominiums (StorageCondos) in Port Clinton, OH.
In fact, storage condos—which people can buy or rent just like a residential condos—are so popular that StorageCondos has four locations and offers a consulting package for storage owners and developers. Winters said he’s worked with more than a dozen companies, including traditional self-storage facilities, that have expanded or developed storage condos and facilities.
Storage condos at Winters’ facility average about 1,000 square feet and cost $500 a month to rent. However, 90 percent of customers buy them outright, he said.
The average purchase price of a storage condo ranges from $55 to $120 per square foot, or $55,000 to $120,000 for a 1,000-square-foot unit, depending on whether it’s in a metro or rural area.
StorageCondos’ consulting package includes site assessment, construction documentation, construction services, and marketing and sales materials. Facility owners must comply with state condo laws and even set up an association that manages the property. StorageCondos’ package includes a declaration, bylaws and management agreement for a storage condo association.
StorageCondos units, which come with a warranty deed, are a big hit with retirees or those nearing retirement, Winters said. The condos are ideal for people who are downsizing but still “need a place to store and play,” he said.
‘Dry stack’ boat storage
For boat owners, another option is covered “dry stack” storage.
Demand for this type of storage far exceeds availability, said Jeff LaLone, co-owner of Bayside Marine in Everett, WA. “We can store 150 boats, and we’re full with a wait list,” he said.
Bayside Marine has 34,000 square feet dedicated to dry-stack storage.
The customer calls, and Bayside’s staff pulls out an owner’s boat and puts it in the water. “It’s like valet parking,” said LaLone, whose racks can hold boats up to 32 feet long.
The average owner takes a boat out 15 to 20 times a year, he said, so keeping it dry the rest of time is worth the monthly cost, which ranges from $325 to $600 at Bayside Marina.
Customers save on maintenance costs, and boats retain their value when the vessel is kept in an enclosed, dry building rather than being docked in sloshing salt water or being exposed to outdoor elements.
Dry-stack storage is common on the East Coast, but LaLone knows of only three other dry-stack storage facilities in Washington state. “The best advantage is that it keeps the boat in fantastic condition, inside and out,” he said.
Enclosed storage is another alternative for RV and boat owners.
Dan Chambers fields about three or four calls a week about that kind of storage. He’s manager of Secure Storage in Hillsboro, OR.
A few years ago, Secure Storage built 10 fully enclosed 14×45 units for RVs and boats and got rid of outdoor storage for them.
Outside storage in Oregon runs around $58 to $75 a month, according to Chambers, and carports large enough for RVs and boats can cost as much as $125. For a fully enclosed unit at Secure Storage, the monthly price jumps to $435.
Chambers said he’s got no problem filling his enclosed storage units, particularly the ones that are fully enclosed.
“I have a waiting list of at least 20 people who do not want to be removed from the list,” he said. “There are not enough facilities for the demand.”