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Renting Office Space in NYC: Everything you need to know

New York City is a bustling, vibrant place to do business. The density of the city and different flavors of each neighborhood offer businesses a wealth of location choices for headquarters or satellite offices, with different prices and neighborhood amenities.

Renting an office space in N.Y.C. has its advantages and disadvantages, like anywhere else. Here are some things you’ll need to consider as you navigate the commercial real estate market of the Big Apple.   

Rental office space in New York can be expensive

The average cost per square foot to rent an office in Manhattan is about $81, making it one of the most expensive cities in which to do business in the entire world. And when you’re operating in an expensive city, everything is more expensive—including office furniture, renovations, and setting up your technology infrastructure.

Aside from monthly rental costs, most property owners require tenants to maintain a certain level of general liability and personal property insurance coverage as a condition of leasing. Property insurance is generally paid by the landlord, and factored into your monthly rental cost.

Shared office spaces in New York City offer businesses an affordable alternative to a traditional office space rental. Not only are the monthly fixed costs less, but companies can also save on furnishing and building out a space to meet their needs.

Standard commercial leases don’t offer flexibility

Many commercial leases in New York City include a standard lease agreement with a supplemental rider that supersedes many of the standard provisions. As a lessee, it’s important to understand whether or not the following general provisions have been amended in the rider:

  • Renovation and restoration: In addition to seeking the landlord’s approval before making any major renovations (included in most standard commercial leases), there is often language stating that the owner has the right to require the tenant to remove any alterations and improvements at the end of the lease term.
  • Restrictions on subleasing: If you outgrow your space before your lease term is up, or downsize and find yourself with more space than you need, you may want to consider subleasing some or all of your office space. Standard leases often make subleases subject to owner approval, which can make the process more difficult and, in some situations, impossible.
  • Relocation clauses: Many leases give owners the right to move you to a comparable office space in the same building. It’s important to figure out what the cost of a relocation would mean to your business and ensure you’d be adequately compensated for a move.

When negotiating an office rental agreement in New York City, it’s important to think beyond your current office needs. You may not need flexibility now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t down the road. Negotiate the terms based on where you see your business several years from now, and ensure your lease offers the flexibility you’ll need long-term. And when considering your lease, make sure to keep the most important commercial real estate terms in mind. 

Many traditional office rentals don’t offer flexible terms, however, which makes working with a partner like WeWork, that can offer the right terms for your business, an appealing option.

Negotiating a commercial lease can take a long time

There are several factors that affect how long it takes to sign a lease on an office space, and even more for calculating a move-in date. Generally speaking, the less you have to do to make a commercial property move-in ready, the less time the process takes.

For example, if you’re moving in to a small, relatively turnkey space, the entire process could take a few weeks. A large, raw space that requires a major build-out may take several months or more—you will have to work with an architect to plan a space that matches your needs, do several rounds of revisions to those plans to ensure landlord approval, and negotiate what you will be responsible for taking down when you’re ready to move on from the space.

Moving into an already designed and outfitted space can be a money-and time-saver for businesses that want to get to work as fast as possible. In addition to coworking spaces, WeWork offers solutions for corporate headquarters as well.

Choosing a location isn’t easy

With five boroughs and hundreds of neighborhoods in New York, figuring out the best location for your office can be a challenge. These are the major factors you should consider:

  • Cost: Midtown Manhattan, for example, will cost a lot more than Long Island City.
  • Proximity to customers/clients: If you need customers and clients to come to you, it’s important to make it convenient for them.
  • Employee commute: If your employees all live in Brooklyn, having your office there will help to retain them and recruit others like them.
  • Distance to public transportation: You want to ensure that you’re located near a variety of public transportation options so people can reach you.
  • Neighborhood amenities: Opening in an up-and-coming neighborhood may be a cost-effective option, but where will your staff get lunch, go to the gym, or shop on their lunch break? If your office is located in an amenity-rich building, this is less important.

Different neighborhoods also have different feels, so you can find one that’s the right fit for your corporate culture. For example, if you’re in the finance business, finding a space on Wall Street may be ideal while a business dedicated to creative pursuits might be more at home in a neighborhood like Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

A good real estate agent or consultant can help you navigate the world of New York City commercial real estate. WeWork also offers turnkey office spaces and workplace solutions for businesses of every size.