Should You Rent an Office Space?

freelance-outside-officeMost freelancers work from home–especially when they are starting out. Using space and equipment that you already have makes sense. Working from home is convenient, and it cuts down on your start up costs.

There comes a time for some freelancers, however, when it’s time to move your business out of your house and into an external office space specifically dedicated to your freelance business.

This post examines when you may want to consider renting an office. We also list some signs that your freelance business is probably not ready to move out of your home. Finally, we describe some of the benefits of having an external office space for your freelance business.


When Should You Consider Renting an Office Space?

Office space can be at a premium in some large cities. However, there are some real office space bargains located just minutes outside of many metropolitan areas. Often, you can lower your costs even more by sharing the office space (and often professional staff, such a receptionist or administrative assistant) with other local professionals.

Here are some signs that your freelance business may be ready to move out of your home:

  • You have frequent face-to-face meetings with clients, but no place to hold them
  • You have local employees and/or subcontractors that you need to work with often
  • Your home is too noisy or has too many distractions for you to get your work accomplished
  • You don’t have a dedicated work space at home
  • Your business’s bottom line is healthy and you can afford the added expense of an office

Having an external office also provides some benefits to your freelance business.

Benefits of Having an External Office

There are many benefits for freelancers who decide to establish a professional office space.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Having a physical location projects an image of stability to clients
  • Sharing an office space with other independent professionals provides you with the opportunity to socialize, as well as brainstorm, with them
  • You can leave your work spread out in the evening and no one will disturb it
  • If you share office expenses with another professional, you may be able to afford administrative staff that would otherwise be out of your financial reach
  • It gets you out of the house

Of course, renting an office space is not for every freelancer. The vast majority of freelancers will likely continue to work from home.

Some Signs that You Are Not Ready to Rent an Office

Would renting an office space be beneficial for your freelancing business? Here are some signs that your business might not be ready quite yet:

  • All of your clients are long-distance, you never have face-to-face meetings with clients
  • You do have a dedicated workspace in your home for your business
  • You already have a place to meet with clients in your home
  • Your freelancing business is just barely getting by (financially)
  • You are just getting started as a freelancer and not ready to commit to renting an office space

Other Considerations

One of my earliest encounters with a freelancing was through a woman who rented her own professional office space. As a young corporate employee (at the time), I can tell you that I was impressed by the fact that she had an actual office for her business. Back then, having an office seemed like the pinnacle of success to me.

However, freelancers should be aware that there is a lot involved with renting and maintaining an office space. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are utilities included in the rental fees?
  • What is the minimum deposit required?
  • What sort of notice do I need to give if I decide to discontinue the lease?
  • Are telecommunication services included in the lease?
  • Where is the parking (and is there an additional cost)?
  • Does the lease include security services?
  • How is the mail delivered?
  • What other services are included in the cost of the lease?

Can you think of additional questions?

Where Is Your Freelance Business Located?

First off, I have to be totally honest on this one. Despite being impressed by my colleague many years ago, my freelance office remains in my home and I have no plans to move it elsewhere any time soon.

However, I do understand that renting an office space can be a positive experience for many freelancers.

Do you rent an office space currently? Why, or why not?

If you are currently renting an office space outside your home for your freelance business, how do you like it? What advice would you give to other freelancers who are considering the same move?

Leave your answers in the comments.

Image by jwthompson2

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Comments

    • says

      Congratulations. I think you really know when you need to move a business out of the home and when you have the funds to do so. As long as you do your research into the property, your finances and the lease there should be nothing stopping you. Good luck with the transition!

  1. says

    I have been juggling this question for some time. I really like how you covered to pros and cons, but for the time being and since I have a full time job – I will stick it out at home. I do think that if I return to freelancer 100% time that I will get an office – just makes sense.

  2. says

    Our home is tight which means that my office will soon become a bedroom for one of our children. We may expand the home or I may rent a small office nearby. For now, when things get noisy, I pack up my laptop and head to the library. Surprisingly, I get a lot done there although the seats are nowhere near as comfortable as my office chair.

    By this time next year, I may have a different office arrangement office established.

  3. says

    Your point of view is appreciable and makes sens.

    I think, in fact, the need for an external business space is more important when we
    meet clients/customers. There is also the psychological effect : renting an office
    space gives certainly a kind of extra motivation and makes the daily work routine
    maybe more professional for some aspects.

  4. says

    Nice, thought-provoking post, Laura. I have a great office in my apartment, so I don’t need an outside office. However, my city has fantastic shared spaces for creatives and there’s one that was started by a group of writers (and continues to be just for writers). Those spaces are tempting because of the camaraderie and chance to connect with other freelancers. It’s something I keep in the back of my mind, though I’m staying put for now.

  5. says

    I’m staying home for now, but when I get a little bit more busy with my freelancing I want to get an office outside my home because if I need to meet with clients I don’t want to ask them to come to my home or set up a meeting on a coffee shop or something, I just don’t like that idea at all, so definitely will want an office.

  6. says

    We actually work from home.

    And trust me, we were able to save a lot and use the same in hiring a contract employee..

    It works !!!

  7. says

    It all depends how discipline to work at home. There are too many distractions and most people always post pone important things to watch TV or play around.
    I personally don’t like to work from home. I like to be around people, so I can interact and network.

  8. says

    Something you may want to consider is piggybacking on someone else’s office space as well. I know a number of freelancers who do just that. They find a business that is big but don’t have all their offices taken up and then they just rent a room from those guys… it brings your costs way down.

  9. says

    Dedicated, spacious home office for me. I also have access to an inexpensive offsite office space when the need arises–it’s a “virtual office” that’s part of a mail receiving/forwarding service I use, so it’s the address on my business card (and therefore doesn’t need to change when we move residences).

    However, I find that most of the time I either go to the client’s office or we meet in a neutral location. That’s been my method for 11 years now, and I don’t see any compelling reason to change it!

  10. says

    I’ve been considering this possibility recently – and have been torn between all the pros and cons you’ve listed here. I do most of my work online and remotely, so do I really *need* the space? On the other hand, it would project stability, and be a much better work environment, to get out of the apartment and into a totally dedicated space.

    For those who rent offices, how does your office rent compare to your apartment rent or mortgage payment — as a %, say?

  11. says

    I use a “virtual office” like Dr. Freelance mentioned. Give a professional appearance, address, and the opportunity to use a conference room or office if I need one. But I do my actual work from my home office.

  12. says

    I am still working from home and will continue to do so for the next 2 years. Getting a “proper” space would be good when I have an employee at least and my work will become “local”. So far, most my clients are overseas so there’s no need to spend money on an office.

  13. says

    I’ve been thinking of getting an office space recently because I would also like to sell some physical products and services – which people really wouldn’t want to buy from my house haha.

    I’m certified in computer repair so it would be great to have a small service that did that as I worked on other things – would be really productive.

    Another thing I was considering was holding workshops at the space :)

  14. says

    The big plus: professional image. People, fortunately or unfortunately, will take you more seriously. A lot of companies around me get a lot of business despite their questionable practices and ugly websites. The big downside: costs. I don’t think I could afford it just yet.

  15. says

    Renting an office is great because it allows you to make that mental separation of work and house life.

    If you live, sleep and work all under one roof it can be a psychological burden for some and affect productivity at work and at play.

    The same thing for those freelancers who work in Starbucks on their laptops all day. Sure, they have a great time and get stuff done but they never want to got there for a leisure coffee at the weekend because they feel like they are at work ; )

  16. says

    I got an office space. I partnered up with my design buddy Lisa, and we currently rent out our own office in Chicago. To be fair, we also started a company, but a good portion of our work is still freelance, and many of our company’s clients knew us as freelancers.

    I recently moved into a new apartment, and I’ve made it a point to never do work here. I live about a 5 minute walk away from my office. Extremely easy to get to, but just far enough away that home feels like a vacation, and my work stays in the office. If I need to stay late and work on a project, I can still do that. I can still come in at whatever hour I need to, as well.

    I can’t say for sure that an office alone helps you find bigger clients, but having a partner, and a professional workspace is much better than going it along in my house. But that’s just me.

    My friends used to be jealous that I worked from home, but I usually indicated that it’s still quite stressful (you never ever “leave” work). A home office is just not my thing, so I’m super happy that I bit the bullet and got a place. I’m extremely productive there, and it lets me do absolutely nothing (and love it) at home.

    Also, get a mini fridge for your office and fill it with beer.

  17. says

    I live in the netherlands and we have à lot of creative factories here where à lot of small creative companies are packed into old factory buildings. You can rent small offices or larger ones with more people. The key benefits are that you work in a very inspiring environment, it’s great to network and you make use of each other services.
    At the moment I’m still working from home but am looking for a small space in a creative location. I’m not really getting inspired working at home all the time. I do get out once in a while but not being able to shut the door between work and a private life makes me feel I work 24/7.

  18. says

    Moving into an office space Is a commitment to a small business, working from home allows you to pass those savings on to your clients, which will be reflected in the rates that you offer.

  19. says

    Great article. Supreme, I would say. I interact with a lot of freelancers on a daily basis asking questions about the steps to follow in order to successfully set up their freelance activity. They tend to ask about what kind of space they need in order to work in a properly way, and what kind of stuff they need to organize their offices. Some of them, also consider the renting option which is, in my opinion, the best option if possible.

  20. says

    I interact with a lot of enrtrepreneurs on a daily basis that ask questions as to what kind of physical space they need to work as freelancers in a proper and effective way. They also ask about the stuff they need to equip that office with. In my opinion, if you have the possibility to rent an office, why not? I think it is way better. Even when I see eye to eye on this matter with @Richard Ball, I also think that not everybody can work efficiently when at home.

  21. says

    I don’t think I’m close to the point of renting out an office but a office room would be great. I think I would consider renting an office space though for some of the reasons you mentioned and then some. Maybe someday ;).

  22. says

    If I ever get an office, it will be like a small shop so I can put signs and advertisement on the outside. This is a great method of advertising.

  23. Lorena says

    While I’ve just started freelancing and don’t have a need for office space, I do have an idea of where I’d like to rent space should the opportunity arise. I live in San Diego, Calif., where there’s Hivehaus, a co-working office.

    There, people can rent cubicles or offices alongside other professionals. The cost is fairly low and there’s meeting space available, too. While many rent space via a lease, there’s both a 10-day per month rental option and a drop-in daily rental available, too, should you just need to get out of the house, or want to have a nice place to meet a client. Really, it seems like the best of both worlds!

  24. says

    Totally agree with your posting!Although I really enjoy working at home I believe that rending an office will give a seance of “business” and “professionalism” to my clients.So,yes, I believe that rending an office is a good thing! :)

  25. says

    Really interesting read, I’m looking at a big shed (well cabin) for my back garden as my next step, pretty inexpensive compared to office rental costs over the years

  26. says

    I have a fantastic home office, but I plan on renting a place, I desperatly need a set of structured hours and a reason to get dressed in the morning!

    I have also found several super cheap shared office spaces where you are just renting a single office in a larger place and share a lunch room, etc.

  27. says

    A big priority of a rented office space is a small number of distractions, I can’t stay 30 minutes in from of my computer without having at least one break at home.

  28. says

    I’ve been thinking about renting an extra space for my freelance work because of this item you wrote: Your home is too noisy or has too many distractions for you to get your work accomplished

    Still, I hesitate. I think it really depends on what type of noise I hear. Like, I can work in a park where there’s a DJ playing some lounge music. I still love the idea of working anywhere and my clients don’t really mind if they’re chatting with me wherever I am, so long as things get done on time, all-the-time. Thanks for the pointers though. I’ll keep it in mind. To answer your question, my biz is located where my laptop is. :-)

  29. says

    I think this is an issue many freelancers face and have to decide upon at some point. For me, it has made the most sense to set up a home office as I do not have many client meetings (many of my clients are out of state). I also enjoy the freedom of having a home office and not being committed to a lease.

    However, as businesses get bigger and add clients or even staff, renting a space is definitely something to consider.

  30. says

    We have a client http://www.servcorp.com that sells virtual office space in the United States and around the world. You can rent Class A office space in many different U.S. cities for 40 hours a week per month and get access to conference rooms, phone, address, technology and more for around $300 a month. For a freelancer, I think it’s a great way to look big and keep expenses small. You can work from home and meet clients in a Class A conference room. They sell executive suites and virtual offices in really great buildings.

  31. Christina says

    I have worked from home for 11 years; mostly due to the kids. It’s worked very well, but lately I’ve been craving other adult contact as well as the validity of outside office space. The final reason, and most compelling, is the need to hire an administrative assistant as I move from freelancer to company.

  32. says

    I like this article, it is really accurate and touches on some important points about renting from a shared office space. In the “Other Considerations” portion of the article, all are important because all office space for rent is different & some do or don’t include many of the items/questions mentioned. If you are a freelancer ready to move into an office space for rent, definitely start with the questions in the “Other Considerations” part of this article because that is where I would start if I look for space again.

  33. says

    This is obviously a very hot topic with all the replies. I have found the best of both worlds, “Share Office Space”. You have your own personal office, and included in your monthly rent, you share the kitchen area, the conference room and the washrooms. Most of the utilities are even included, even internet access. For small companies, in this day and age, this is only way that I would go.

  34. says

    I managed to get access to a university Library and computer room when I started my business. It’s a good idea to work away from home to increase productivity and meet people. Signing up to a course on the Open University allows you to use most uni libraries in the country, well worth it for a free office for many months.

  35. says

    Having moved from the home office to a shared office space has been a great decision for my business. I am able to conduct myself in a professional manner and actually get alot more done and find myself being more organized!

  36. says

    I’ve worked at home for the last 3 years, but I’m now looking into renting an office space for a few reasons. Here they are:

    1. I really need a better work/life separation. I’d like to be able to leave work at the office when it’s done.

    2. I want a physical address I’m comfortable giving out for my business.

    3. An office would have fewer distractions and more of a quiet atmosphere

    4. People would take my business hours more seriously (including me).

    I think that if you can make the office space rent back in just a couple days of work each month because of the increased productivity and professionalism, then it’s well worth it.

  37. says

    It is in reality a great and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  38. says

    The most important thing to think about is cost and whether you would actually benefit from an office. Many freelancers can work from home their entire careers.

  39. says

    Very interesting insigth and check list for knowing if we need an Office or not, for the record, finding an office can be a pain, long visits, hard negotiation and expensive ( rent + deposit + furniture + IT + agency fees …)
    This is why YOU can look for Offices for rent direct from Landlords and Serviced Offices operators on http://www.offees.com
    If you need an office, we might help you find we have free lease, shared and coworking spaces available, long term, short term etc…
    Hope to help you out
    The Offees team

  40. says

    I’ve worked from home since starting my company in 2005. Happy to say I’m getting ready to sign a contract for a 1-day-per-week use of a shared office full of other web developer types. Getting out 1 day each week will be a treat, and it’s a lot less expensive than renting an office full time.

  41. says

    This is quite insightful, and relevant to about every freelancer trying to make the ‘magical’ leap from a home office to a full professional office. I am inclined to agree with Ronda on this one; an office would surely increase your level of professionalism and profitability (or so I believe). I am starting out, and a few months away from an actual office, and I wouldn’t have come across such an article at a better time.

  42. says

    I haven’t seen anyone mention it yet, but there are some serious tax advantages if you have your own office. Anyone who has tried to claim a home office deduction knows that it is a quick ticket to an audit. There are an unpleasant amount of rules you must follow to actually claim a deduction successfully, but it won’t be a problem at all if you are renting outside office space. Something else to consider in your decision-making process.

  43. says

    I got an office after two years of working at home, and while I don’t regularly hold meetings with clients I simply couldn’t take it anymore with 4 small kids running in and out of my room. When I worked at home it was hard to separate family time from work time, but now with an office I never bring my work home.

  44. says

    As Simeon Howard touched on, there are a lot of tax advantages when renting office space. Firstly it doesn’t actually cost you anything as rent, utility bills and council business rates (I’m in the UK and we have to pay these!) are all tax deductible which means when submitting your tax return at the end of the financial year the total amount of costs you have paid are offset expense your tax bill therefore you only pay tax on the remainder.

    In this respect, it is free to have an office space. Obviously you have to pay upfront the bills and rent during the year but ultimately you get it back again.

    This is an important thing that everyone should note. This applies in the UK, I’m not sure about other countries.

    So in the UK, there is no reason for you not to rent.

    The above is assuming you are legit and actually paying your taxes at the end of the financial year which I would guess people are smart enough to do.

  45. says

    I have run my Digital Advertising Firm for 3 years now and have hired a few college kids for sales to work for me. I am currently searching for 300 sqft office that way it is big enough to have 2 or 3 extra desks in there to have sales reps and interns work from and have actually found pretty decently priced spaces in Dallas as low as $350/mo all bills included! I think that paying for an office is extra motivation, it gives you a since of professionalism,gives you a place to meet clients, gives you the chance to see people, and new business can come from the businesses around you!

    • Ryan Domm-Thomas says

      I love that you said it’s “extra motivation” because it is so true. I like having a sense of professionalism as well. Best of luck with the search Preston!

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