6 reasons freelancers should rent an office

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(MoneyWatch) At first glance, renting an office space might seem like a luxury for a freelancer. After all, there are plenty of ways to create a functional home office, and since you're already renting or own the space, it's relatively cost-effective. But some freelancers say that renting a separate space is not only affordable, but also helps them do their job better -- and, in the process, make more money.

So should you try to fit an office space into your budget? According to freelancers, here are six reasons to consider it:

To experience natural networking opportunities. I rent office space at The Inc. at Purple Crayon in Hastings, N.Y. I come because I like the interaction/networking with other freelancers, and I like the programming they offer for freelancers. On Wednesdays I attend "lunch pad," where entrepreneurs share their experiences and trade advice and counsel over a communal salad. -- Suzanne Robitaille, writer

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To maintain a professional appearance. I am a self-employed attorney. I rent office space in Manhattan, about an hour's train ride from my Long Island home [for many reasons, including] professionalism. There is no doubt that a more professional and businesslike impression is made when clients and prospective clients meet you in your office rather than in your home or at a Starbucks, particularly if you have your diplomas, laminated newspaper articles, awards, etc., hanging on the wall. -- Charles-Eric Gordon, Esq.

For the community. I rent office space because it gets me out of the house, it makes me more productive, and gives me a sense of a professional community. I found when I worked at home that I felt too isolated and not a part of the working world. I rent a cubicle at Brooklyn Writers Space. It's so easy to rent a flexible and affordable space these days, at least in New York City. This was one of the most affordable options -- I pay $360 a quarter. -- Samantha Hoover, marketing and communications consultant

To avoid raiding the fridge. I participate in a shared office space in Boston called Officio. Membership allows me to get out of my 500 square foot apartment in Boston, hold meetings with clients, and network with other entrepreneurs. It also helps me stay focused and avoid snacking all day. Full time membership is $299 a month. I'm currently on a $99 a month part-time membership plan. This allows me to use the space 5 days a month. -- Sean Horrigan, PR consultant

To increase your efficiency and earnings. I can make more money because when I am at the office, I am totally focused on getting work done. I currently pay about $600 per month for my space. Since having my own office, my income has just continued to grow. -- Valerie Chereskin, Southern California-based PR consultant

For the technological perks. I rent space for many reasons, depending on what I need to do for my business. In some office suites, they have video-teleconferencing capability, which is particularly advantageous if you have clients in multiple locations or internationally. Some peer-to-peer tools (e.g., Webex or Go-To-Meeting) can be used from your home, but the quality and number of locations you have video with are limited. -- Michael Hermens, Dallas, Texas-based finance services consultant

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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