Beyond Starbucks: Where freelancers are working

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(MoneyWatch) If you're a freelancer, you may be spending your days competing for electrical outlets at the 'Bucks or struggling to be efficient in a home office, with distractions ranging from kids to the kitchen. If you have a little extra money and this describes you, consider renting office space. Think of it as an investment in your business (and rest assured you can deduct it from next year's taxes). Here are some of the most popular choices available these days:

Co-working spaces

These cooperative arrangements allow freelancers to rent an office or desk, and memberships can range from once a week use to 24/7 availability. They're cropping up quickly across the country, primarily in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Copywriter and consultant Mikey Rox has been working at AlleyNYC, a midtown Manhattan space, since August, and loves being around other like-minded folks. "I get to interact with other young entrepreneurs on a regular basis, and I'm happier overall because I get to go out into the world like those who have 9-to-5s." Filmmaker David Vandas rents a single desk at The Network Hub in New Westminster, Canada, for $250 per month. That expenditure has already paid for itself, says Vandas: "I'm getting my administration work done much quicker. It has been amazing for helping me stay in control of my time management as I navigate between [various] projects."

Daily rental arrangements

If you do not require an office full-time (for instance, you need a room only when you see a client), you might want to check out more flexible options. One helpful resource is LiquidSpace, an online tool that allows you to book as little as one hour in more than 2,000 workplaces in over 250 U.S. cities. When I checked for my area, rates were as low as $15 an hour. Regus, the world's largest source of flexible work space, is another good option, particularly if you travel internationally for your business; they have options from desks to conference rooms in almost 100 countries.

Virtual offices

If you have a home office you love but want a business address, you might rent a "virtual office." San Francisco-based CPA Amy Zhang does this through Intelligent Office. "This way, I don't need to disclose private information such as my home address to clients," says Zhang. While she spends just $50 a month for her virtual space, she also has the option to meet clients in "real" space for about $40 per hour. "It's very cost-effective, and I can pass along the savings to my clients and remain competitive in this market," says Zhang. "At the same time, I look professional by having a space available to me in the prestigious financial district in San Francisco."

A standard share

If the social atmosphere of co-working doesn't appeal to you, standard rental arrangements can be found via online brokers at places like Craigslist or the old-fashioned way, word of mouth. Comedian Dan Nainan shares a private Manhattan office in a commercial building, using it during the day while his computer consultant office mate uses it at night. As a comedian, he's done television interviews from the conference room and says he has improved not only his productivity, but also his work-life balance. "When I'm in my office, I feel that I'm much more able to concentrate on work. When I'm home, it's more about relaxing and playing guitar."

Don't have a single dime to spend on printer ink, let alone rented office space? Check out your local public library. It's quiet, and you won't have to fuel up on java to use the free Wi-Fi.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Foundation7

If you're a freelancer who rents an office, please sign in and describe it in the comments section below.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    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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