There’s something about having an office that can make your business feel official. An office is a destination. An address. A sign that customers and clients can trust you. But office space can also come with a cost – one that might be tougher for small businesses to bear, especially during startup and growth stages.
But here’s the good news: You have options. From mobile offices and shared workspaces to traditional office space at bargain basement prices, affordable office space can be within reach – if you know where to look.
Set Your Office Space Budget and Goals
Before hitting the pavement – or web search for “cheap office space” – you should consider establishing some goals and a budget. First, the goals.
Try to think about what you want your future office space to help your business achieve – for the business and everyone who steps foot inside. Some criteria to consider for your affordable office space could include:
- Location. Are you willing to pay more for an office in a prime location or close to public transit?
- Type of space. Do you need a dedicate office with a door or could your team be productive in a shared, open floorplan environment?
- Amenities. Do you need extras like a mailing address, an answering service, or a conference room for client meetings?
- How long you plan to stay in the space. Know whether you’re looking for a temporary solution or a more permanent arrangement.
Once you determine what your office space needs to do for your business, it’s time to set a budget. Since costs can vary widely by office type, it’s important to think about not just rental costs, but additional costs that come with renting an office, including:
- Commuting costs (gas, public transit fare)
- Add-ons, like mail and package receiving services
- ·Furnishings (if you’re not renting a furnished office space)
While it can be tough to pin down an exact total cost for your dream office space until you identify a few options, your goals and budget can serve you well in your search. Both can help you identify your must-haves and maximum spend. From there, everything is negotiable.
9 Tips for Finding Office Space on a Budget
Growing businesses must be smart about costs. So to start your search for office space a step ahead, consider using these thrifty tips to keep costs low while giving your business room to grow.
Here’s how to find cheap office space – no matter where you live.
Strike a Bargain
According to May 2023 figures shared by The Visual Capitalist, there’s nearly than 1 billion square feet of vacant commercial office space in the U.S. If you’re searching for a cheap, traditional office – especially in a major metropolitan area – these staggering figures could play in your favor.
Consider working with a commercial real estate broker who can help you identify office building in your area with the highest vacancy rates. Then, try to use your broker’s research and negotiating talents to carve out a bargain-priced lease. Your broker can help identify average costs per square foot in your area.
If you don’t need an office every day, but would like to have one some days, consider renting office space as you go. In the past few years, innovators like DeskPass and PeerSpace have made it easy to find the right space at the right time. Options include shared office spaces, desk rentals, conference room rentals, and more.
The best part about flexible office space apps like these? Not only can you find cheap office space that fits your budget. But your office space can change as your business grows.
Rent a Desk
If you don’t need an entire office but want a destination beyond your living room, consider renting a desk. You can rent a desk at a wide variety of co-working spaces, giving you a daily place to work and access to amenities like conference room rentals when client meetings call.
While costs vary by city and space, these monthly dedicated desk rental costs can help you get an idea of what this cheap office space solution might run.
- Phoenix, AZ – $249 to $465 at LiquidSpace
- Downtown Los Angeles, CA – $299 via Instant Office
- ·Brookylyn, NY – $380 to $550 at LiquidSpace
- Austin, Texas – $450 to $600 at CommonDesk
Join a Co-working Space
If you’re a business of one or still have a small and scrappy team, co-working spaces could deliver a powerful one-two punch. First, you get a destination – and generally, with some comfort perks like free coffee and water, and perhaps a snack bar or vending area. Predictable costs can also help you manage cash flow. But you also may get the other people in the space.
Co-working spaces can be networking goldmines, connecting you casually with other business owners. A conversation in the elevator or in front of the microwave could lead to new clients, collaborators, vendors, or referral sources.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, co-working space costs vary by locale, but tend to average $300 to $400 per month for a dedicated desk – and less if you opt for open seating.
Consider Shared Office Spaces
Odds are you may not be the only business looking for office space on a budget. By partnering with other small business owners, you can join forces and create a shared office space that works for everyone.
Whether you’re sharing a small office full-time with another business owner or rotating use of the office on a schedule, this option can get you the private space you crave on a budget.
Try Your Local Library
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house, your local library could have the most affordable office space in town. Many libraries have free or low-cost room meeting rentals, perfect for brainstorming sessions or presentations. When you need less space or just want to hunker down, a study carrel could be perfect for your needs. Not only will you find a quiet workspace, you can take advantage of free internet access, too.
Partner With Clients
If you’re the very embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit, think about renting cheap office space from one of your clients. If you structure the deal right, it’s possible you may not have to write a check each month. Instead, you and your client can draft a contract that spells out the services they’ll receive in trade in exchange for your office space requirements. The key, however, is to put everything in writing. And be sure to consider how you’ll arrange meeting space with other clients, if necessary.
Create a Mobile Office
These days, it’s possible to work from anywhere. That’s why you shouldn’t write off the possibility of a mobile office. Beyond the library, this could very well be the cheapest office space for rent in your area when you consider the possibilities. One day, it’s the library. The next, a posh hotel lobby or quiet café patio. You can choose locations by internet access or bring your own hotspot to ensure you’re always connected.
Finding the Perfect Cheap Office Space for Your Business
When you think about finding cheap office space, that doesn’t have to translate to bare bones. With all the ideas above, finding affordable office space can be easier than you might’ve imagined. From flexible solutions to shared workspaces rich with networking opportunities, one space or a combination of a few can give your business and team room to grow and thrive on a budget.
And don’t forget to take care of yourself amidst the hustle. Try to disconnect from work, recharge when you’re exhausted, and let clients know that you’ll be happy to meet with them tomorrow. At the office.
A version of this article was originally published on January 09, 2012.
Photo: Getty Images