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Coworking Beats Office Leasing as a More Affordable Option in Many U.S. Cities

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In a recent study by CoworkingCafe, dedicated desk subscriptions emerged as an attractive choice for small teams across most U.S. cities when compared to the average yearly cost of leasing traditional office space. Specifically, flexible office subscriptions proved more affordable than office leases in 96% of the cities examined, including 17 U.S. cities where coworking costs were less than half the price of office leases.

Santa Monica coworking spaces topped the national ranking as the strongest contenders against the local office scene, coming in at a 62% price difference and a potential average annual savings of nearly $46,000. Conversely, the smallest gap was seen in Kansas City, with a less than 1% advantage for coworking. Meanwhile, Cincinnati stood out as one of the few exceptions with office leases here being 11% cheaper than coworking subscriptions.

The Significance of Workspace Flexibility

Workspace flexibility has become vital for businesses, especially smaller ones. That’s because the agility offered by coworking memberships — once viewed primarily for freelancers — now appeals to businesses seeking adaptability during growth or restructuring.

Furthermore, shared amenities translate into a discount that makes coworking a particularly attractive option not just for small teams, but also for startups with up to 50 employees, as well as larger businesses with distributed workforces.

Other Variables Put More Wind in Coworking’s Sail

Granted, the hypothetical comparison focused on dedicated desk prices in order to present a fair, standardized assessment. However, CoworkingCafe argued that private office subscriptions might offer even greater cost efficiency for small teams. But, their varying sizes created an inconsistent comparison even between individual coworking locations, let alone at the city level.

Additionally, longer-term coworking memberships often come at a discount by default or can be negotiated. These factors also weren’t reflected in the study, similar to the cleaning and furnishing expenses that require additional resources when budgeting for a traditional office lease.

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Regional Standouts

Western U.S.

California cities — including Santa Monica and Los Angeles — offered significant coworking savings with relative price differences of up to 62% and 57%, respectively. Likewise, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area also showed substantial discounts, with discounts in Palo Alto and San Francisco reaching 61% and 54%, respectively.

A graphic map showing coworking pricing in specific U.S. regions.

From southern California, San Diego was prominent: subscription prices here averaged exactly half the mean annual lease rate for traditional office space. As for other Western regions outside California, Seattle stood out with potential savings reaching 49%.

A graphic map showing coworking pricing in specific U.S. regions.

Northeastern U.S.

In Boston and New York City, coworking presented savings of 58% and 57%, respectively. Not far behind, Jersey City, Princeton, N.J. and Pittsburgh also showcased appealing savings ranging from 48% to 40%.

A graphic map showing coworking pricing in specific U.S. regions.

Southern U.S.

In the South, cities like Tysons, VA and Miami offered substantial discounts at 54% and 53%, respectively, leading to sizable annual savings. Not to be outdone, Washington, D.C. and Hollywood, FL, also displayed attractive savings of 53% and 51%, respectively.

A graphic map showing coworking pricing in specific U.S. regions.

Midwestern U.S.

In Oak Brook, IL, coworking was almost half the price of traditional offices with a 49% discount. Nearby, Chicago, IL, exhibited a smaller (but still significant) 39% difference.

A graphic map showing coworking pricing in specific U.S. regions.

Notable Exceptions

While coworking triumphed in most cases, cities like Cincinnati and New Orleans, LA favored office leasing with double-digit discounts. Tucson, AZ, and Albany, N.Y., Franklin, TN, and Memphis also leaned toward office leasing, although with smaller savings.

While past the tipping point, Kansas City, MO was also highlighted as the most balanced market, with the relative price difference remaining under 1%.

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Coworking Insights is the go-to source for trends, data, advice and insights for coworking industry professionals.

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