By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com

With the abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation in Denver, Colo., and the amount of equipment most recreational activities and sports require, it’s no wonder Denver apartment renters are turning to self storage to store their gear and get more space at home.

According to a report by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 90 percent of Coloradans participate in regular outdoor recreation, such as camping, fishing, or skiing, with two-thirds of those surveyed stating they participate in outdoor activities at least one day a week. These numbers are expected to grow, as 60 percent of residents expect to increase their involvement in outdoor recreation within the next five years.

90 Percent of Colorado Enjoys Outdoor RecreationMore specific to the metro, the report states that 20 percent of statewide activity takes place in and around Denver, which means a large population of Denver residents are regularly enjoying outdoor activities.

While some of these activities, like jogging and swimming, don’t require gear, others do. Backpacking, fishing, camping, skiing, snowboarding, biking, sledding, skating, white-water rafting, and kayaking are all among the top 30 outdoor activities in Colorado, and each require a significant amount of equipment. For Denver residents in small apartments, this means sacrificing space for recreational equipment storage.

“I would say average is 700 square feet for a one-bed [apartment] and 950 square feet for a two-bed,” says Shannon Findley, manager at Apartment Guyz in the Denver metro, adding that opting for smaller apartments is a trend among younger Denver residents. “You see a lot of younger people going for the ‘less-is-more’ lifestyle…thanks to Ikea, you can make any space work these days.”

An example of this is Turntable Studios, the first building of micro-apartments in the region next to Mile-High Stadium in Downtown Denver. These micro-apartments give renters about 330 square feet of living space, as well as a swimming pool, a workout facility, lounge, and other amenities.

Denver is following a national trend of people paying more for smaller spaces, as long as the amenities and locations are a good fit. For instance, renters will pay $1,400 or more a month for a 550 square foot one-bedroom apartment in the Capitol Hill, Lohi, Lodo, Sunnyside, Sloan’s Lake, and Edgewater areas because they offer unique amenities, like pet spas, rooftop terraces, or elevated pools. “I even saw a pool in the Taxi District that was just completely separate from the building on a two-story platform,” Findley adds.

Findley believes apartments like Turntable Studios will start spreading throughout the Denver area. “People like the idea of riding [their] bike to work and minimizing their carbon footprint, so a smaller living space opens up [their] life in other areas,” she explains. “Colorado is the perfect place to not be indoors, so why live in a huge apartment when you have so many activities outside and all around the city to go do?”

“Colorado is the perfect place to not be indoors, so why live in a huge apartment when you have so many activities outside and all around the city to go do.”

Shannon Findley, manager at Apartment Guyz

The problem with these micro-apartments, however, is that they don’t offer enough space for belongings. “A lot of people have no place to store holiday decorations or family mementos,” Findley says. “The walk-in closet in my downtown apartment is stuffed tight with camping gear, decorations, and clothes.”

Though some apartment buildings have dedicated storage lockers for their renters, Findley says around 90 percent of properties charge an additional fee for using the lockers. “Storage is a must for a lot of people, so unless you have a relative’s garage to borrow in Denver, you’re looking at a storage unit for sure!”

While renting a storage unit may seem unnecessary for some Denver residents, those struggling to find enough space in their apartments for recreational gear may relish in the convenience.

“Apartments have a limited amount of space for anything but the essentials,” says Dodie Wingerter, Call Center Manager with Storage Masters in the Denver area. “Condo owners and apartment dwellers use our facilities for this type of storage twice as often as an individual living in a house.”

“You need to keep it within five miles of where you live and consider the feature. Just because a facility is next door doesn’t mean it’s your best choice. Easy access and a great security system should be priorities.”

Dodie Wingerter, Call Center Manager with Storage Masters

If you’re someone looking to rent a Denver storage unit to store recreational gear, Wingerter recommends finding a facility with drive-up access, as well as 24-hour access, for easy loading and unloading whenever you’re ready to head out on your next outdoor adventure. Additionally, she says to look for a facility with strong security, as most outdoor equipment is expensive to repair or replace should anything happen to it.

“You need to keep it within five miles of where you live and consider the feature,” Wingerter says. “Just because a facility is next door doesn’t mean it’s your best choice. Easy access and a great security system should be priorities.”

When it comes to finding the right storage unit size for recreational equipment, Wingerter says it depends on the gear. For instance, a kayak can be as small as four feet or as large as 20 feet. “Camping equipment is easy to stack, so a small 5×5 unit might work. Skis can sit upright and could also use a smaller unit,” she says. “The important issue here is to look at the unit before you rent it.”

Denver Storage Unit PriceIf you can afford it, she says to go for a unit that’s larger than what you need so you can organize your gear and create an aisle in your unit to easily find what you need. If you’re on a tighter budget, though, a smaller unit will still work—Wingerter just recommends putting the items you use more often closer to the door.

While the monthly rent of a storage unit depends on the location of the facility and the amenities, Storage.com’s data shows that a 5×5 storage unit in Denver can be found anywhere between $40 to $90 a month while a 10×15 can be found between $120 to $190 a month. In most cases, renting a storage unit for recreational gear is much cheaper than upgrading to a larger apartment.

Our data also shows that Denver self storage demand has been high in recent years, as most facilities throughout the metro have occupancy rates of 98 percent or higher in all unit sizes as far back as 2011. In 2014, storage facilities in the Ruby Hill neighborhood were completely occupied, whereas the lowest occupancy rate recorded in 2014 was an 86 percent for 5×10 units near the University neighborhood.

What Findley and Wingerter say about apartment and self storage trends correlating—combined with the high demand for self storage in Denver—it seems more and more Denver residents are turning to self storage to overcome space issues at home in order to maintain their “less-is-more” apartment lifestyles and still keep their sporting gear.

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