06 Apr Naples Attracts Retirees, Sees Growth in Housing and Self Storage Markets
By Alex Hassel, Storage.com
Right along Florida’s western coast, Naples is a hot spot for retirees. The Collier County city made Forbes’ Top 25 Places to Retire Rich list and even ranked in the top spot in Bloomberg’s cities to see the most economic growth in 2016. As its metropolitan area population continues to grow each year, Naples has seen equal growth in its economic sector, particularly with job creation, the housing market, and the local self storage industry.
Michael Dalby, President and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, says Naples’ economy was fueled by retirees moving into the area. “I think that we will continue to add retail, service, and hospitality jobs as long as the economy does well,” he explains. “The population is growing in Southwest Florida, and that requires the addition of these establishments. It also shows the need to diversify our local economy and assist in the growth of existing industries that are creating high-value and high-wage jobs.”
With new jobs opening up throughout Collier County and more retirees settling in the area, it’s also made a big impact on the Naples housing market. “Developers have jumped back into building housing,” says Phil Wood, President of John R. Wood Properties. “There are new starts and new construction. For the last two years, we’ve been building fast and furious. It’s good for our economy. There’s a trickle-down effect with people building homes.”
Wood says the biggest demographic he’s seeing among his customers are baby boomers who are retiring. And apartment rentals? They’re basically unheard of. “It goes about 50/50 between single-family homes and condos, although many get into one or the other and switch after a few years when they change their mind.”
More often that not, Wood says those baby boomers are downsizing. “It’s an economic thing. They could own a 6,000-square-foot home up north and find that the same space costs more in Naples. They’re trying to be reasonable with dollars. Also, their families are gone so they don’t need as large of a space.”
One might think that, while downsizing, many retirees would take advantage of self storage in Naples. Jerome Thomas-Kobes, manager at the 1597 Pine Ridge Rd. location of Hide-Away Storage in the city, says that’s true, although the amount of retired self storage renters isn’t as overwhelming as you’d think. He sees a balanced mix of homeowners, businesses, motor home and boat owners, and, more recently, home contractors, due to the rise in new home construction.
“I can tell you I have ten that just moved in to serve the contracts they’re working on now,” Thomas-Kobes says. “I’ve also just had a few move out and get their own facility. Right now, I have cabinet makers that actually make their cabinets here on site, I have a couple of plumbers, air conditioning people who use their rental space as a staging area, and lots of service businesses like maintenance, gates, and electronics using storage.”
Still, Thomas-Kobes adds that he does get his share of retirees and snowbirds renting, especially since houses in the area aren’t built with attics or basements, meaning there’s a lack of storage space for new residents who are downsizing or coming from the north where attics and basements are more common home features.
Naples’ economic growth has been great for the self storage industry. “We’re at one of our highest lease rates ever at this point,” Thomas-Kobes explains. “I came here five years ago, and we were somewhere around 75% occupied. Now, we’re at about 93%.”
Even at high occupancy, though, Thomas-Kobes says there isn’t any need for new self storage development in Naples. “There’s storage everywhere around Naples. We have the conglomerates and mom-and-pops here. Within a mile of me, there are five different facilities that I know of…We’ve had a few new facilities in the last three years, but my sense is that it may have been overbuilt a little since 2008. However, now it’s catching up because so many people are moving here.”