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From the City to the Suburbs: The Benefits of Opening a Coworking Space Outside of the City

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More people are moving from their cramped city apartments these days and into bigger (and often cheaper) spaces, and employers are following them. The suburban migration can be a perfect fit for coworking providers, considering that our industry is about flexibility and meeting workers where they need to be.  

Real estate and operational costs are generally lower in the suburbs than in large cities, and you’ll have less competition while the industry is still exploring the trend. Smaller communities often have a strong sense of identity and camaraderie, which can be beneficial for networking and collaboration. Also, building amenities like parking, childcare services, fitness centers and restaurants, which add value to the member experience, can typically be negotiated more easily. 

Some operators have managed to offer both urban and suburban locations, which can provide flexibility for members and increase the overall reach of the business. However, it also requires managing multiple locations and potentially dealing with different local regulations and market conditions, not to mention careful brand positioning and resource allocation. 

It’s essential to conduct thorough market research online, visit local workspace alternatives, and engage with the community before opening a coworking space. This can help to ensure that the space meets local needs and is well-received. 

As you explore whether the suburbs should be the next workspace home for your members, here are some factors to consider: 

1) Member Needs 

Members in suburban and urban areas have different needs in a coworking space. Suburban members often seek the flexibility and convenience of working close to home, with free parking, outdoor spaces or family-friendly amenities on their list. In contrast, city members tend to prioritize networking opportunities, walkability and closer proximity to business districts. 

If your members enjoy living in the city, you can still attract them to a suburban work location with a shorter commute. Look for a location within 20-30 miles of the city or 30-60 minutes if it’s a major city. 

Depending on the local infrastructure, locations near public transportation, restaurants, and shops are often desirable. Placing your coworking space in the heart of the community, near a town center or a popular retail complex, could provide visibility, accessibility and convenience. 

A view of a flexible office space.

2) Costs 

Real estate is typically less expensive outside major cities, but you may have to make some tradeoffs.   

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Lower rent can lower your startup and operational costs, but renovation or construction costs could be higher, depending on the condition and suitability of available properties. You may have to invest more in marketing and advertising to educate residents on the benefits of coworking while attracting new members. 

3) Amenities and Hours  

Amenities and hours might be similar to those in urban locations but with some adjustments to meet local needs and preferences. For example, there might be more demand for smaller private offices or meeting rooms and less for team offices. Access demand for the space can also vary, whereas some markets might value weekend access to the space over a 24/7 opening throughout the week. 

Suburban coworking spaces may offer different amenities like more outdoor areas and family-friendly facilities. 

You’re Moving In – Now What? 

You’re likely to encounter some rivalry in a suburb, even if there are fewer direct competitors than in the city. It’s essential to be sensitive to local dynamics and seek ways to collaborate with area businesses rather than directly compete with them. Coworking spaces can complement local businesses by offering additional services and collaboration opportunities. 

If you want to survive long-term and be seen as an amenity to the community (not just another business), I recommend engaging in extensive outreach to integrate into the populace, build brand awareness and attract diverse members. 

Be sure to come with your “give” first, before your “ask.”  

Demonstrate commitment to the community and respect for their traditions and values. One way to do that is by incorporating some of their history into your space. For example, you could work with a local artist to design a mural for one of your walls that reflects or represents the area. Consider naming conventions for your breakout spaces and meeting rooms with a callback to something only a hyper-local would recognize. 

No matter where your coworking business is located, always look to “future-proof” the design of any flexible workspace community by emphasizing versatility, usability, sustainability and technology integration, with some local community flair to appeal to nearby modern professionals and align with future work trends. 

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About Author

Rubin Beckner is the Director of Marketing for Vast Coworking Group™, the world’s largest coworking franchise company, comprised of shared workspace concepts Venture X®, Office Evolution® and Intelligent Office. Vast Coworking is a division of the United Franchise Group (UFG) family of affiliated brands and consultants. The Vast network is building and connecting consumer-focused brands to help meet the rapidly growing worldwide demand for flexible office space.

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