Tips When Considering Commercial Office Space for Rent in Austin Tx

At some point in your business it may come time to search for and find office space for lease Austin Tx and you typically fall in one of the following categories:
  • New business or startup wanting to lease office space in Austin for the first time.
  • You’re an existing Austin company and looking to expand or relocate your business.
  • Your headquarters is outside of Austin, Texas and you want to open a satellite office.
  • You’re considering relocating your headquarters altogether from another city or state to Austin, Tx.
Whether you are launching a startup, opening a satellite office, expanding, or relocating it can be challenging to begin comparing locations and available spaces, especially if you are not familiar with the area. And choosing just any location would be a mistake. Below are things to consider before leasing Austin office space.

1. Decide if You Really Need to Lease Your Own Austin Office Space

When starting a new business or testing out if a market like Austin will work for you it’s not always necessary that you lease your own office space at first. You could simply have your employees work from home or lease one of the available co-working facilities or executive suites that will allow you do rent month to month. There are plenty of business who are doing just fine with these alternative spaces, and you could save yourself a lot of time and money. Then if things are working out and your team is growing then you lease your own office space.

2. Start Searching for Office Space in Austin Tx Sooner Than Later

The Austin office market is very tight so consider starting your search at least 4-6 month before your existing lease expires or before your ideal move in date. Spaces that are already built out can be found and occupied pretty quickly however if your favorite office space needs a complete build-out that will take more time. It is possible to find and lease a smaller space within 30 days however that’s not typically the case with larger or unfinished offices. If you want to avoid feeling rushed or pressured into making a regretful decision give yourself at least 4-6 months.

3. Consider Working With a Commercial Realtor in Austin that Only Represent Tenants

There are over 4,600 office buildings with over 96,000,000 rentable square feet in the Austin Metro Area. If you are just getting started or are not familiar with the area it would make sense for you to get help to search & find office space for lease in Austin Tx. There are a ton of websites that have listings however most of them are inaccurate or outdated. They mainly exist to generate leads. You could find and lease business space on your own however it will be time consuming and you won’t save any money by doing so.
Austin commercial real estate agents that only represent tenants will curate office listings that only match your ideal size, location, and budget, and help you negotiate the best deal on your behalf. They represent your best interests however their fee is paid for by the landlord. Having someone local who knows the market available listings, and building owners will be an invaluable asset to your team.

4. Find a Location That is Convenient For Your Employees

When choosing an office space location in Austin you need to find a space that not only accommodates your business, customers, vendors, but also your employees.
  1. Commute times – Although your employees might drive to the office on their own time the negative effects of a long commute stick with them. Austin traffic is very bad at peak times in certain areas so finding a space that can reduce most of their commute times can lead to happier more productive employees. For example, while office space in Northeast Austin is the least expensive in town it also means longer commutes for employees if most of them live in South or Southwest Austin. Make sure to evaluate where your existing employees live and where you think your next new hires will come from.
  2. Contiguous space – You want to choose a space that keeps your employees together. A 20 story office building in downtown Austin with small floor plates or an office campus with 5 buildings in Northwest Austin could mean your employees are spending a ton of time on the elevators, stairways, or walking between buildings in the heat, rain, or snow.
  3. Natural light – It’s a proven fact that the more natural light your office has the more happy and productive your employees are. Having lot’s of windows matters however so does the location. Try mapping out the sun angles on the building and space to ensure you can maximize the available natural light
  4. Amenities – The more time away from the office your employees spend the more money and productivity you are losing. People have complicated lives and it’s hard to get everything done that needs to be done. To reduce absenteeism focus on areas in Austin that are surrounded by the services your employees need to to manage their lives. Being close to restaurants, physician offices, etc will allow them to take care of their daily needs without having to take a half a day off.
  5. Proximity to prospects, clients, & vendors – If your employees spend a lot of time in the field with prospects, clients, & vendors be sure to choose a somewhat central Austin location. The less time they spend in the car the more productive time they will have.

5. Calculate How Much Office Space You Need to Rent

The last thing you want to do is pay for space you don’t actually use or agree to lease a space that you will grow out of before the initial lease term expires.
When calculating your current and future office space needs in Austin you need to know:

  • How many employees you have now.
  • How many employees you will have 3-5 years from now (Typical lease term is 3-5 years). Forecasting future headcount is challenging which is ok…….so as a general rule of thumb estimate about 10% to 20% more space than what you need currently
  • How much space you will need per employee (depends on your use, needs, wants, etc…)
  • You also need to know and compare the parking ratio at each Austin office building that you are considering.
Most companies average about 125 sf to 200 sf per person, however some more some less. So if you have 30 employees then you would need 3,750 sf to 6,000 sf.
However if an office building in Austin has a parking ratio of 4/1,000 sf (4 parking spaces for every 1,000 sf) then with 30 employees the landlord would probably require that you lease about 7,500 sf (30/4 = 7.5 x 1,000).
Every office building in Austin is different and some are more flexible than others, however parking ratios will range from 1.5 to 5 / 1,000. In the suburbs of Austin parking ratios range from 3-4/1,000 sf. In downtown they are 1.5/2.5/1,000 sf. Landlords in Austin have to manage this otherwise they end up with one tenant who is only leasing 1,000 sf monopolizing all the parking spaces. They are not going to let you lease 1,000 sf and then pack in 30 employees, unless 90% of your employees take public transportation.
In the end estimating your space needs is based on your headcount however it’s important you be be aware of the parking ratios of each office building that you are evaluating in Austin. You don’t want to end up in default on your lease because your employees are parking more cars than the building allows. You also don’t want to be forced to lease more space than you need just to get more parking spaces. Consider hiring an architect who can do a test fit for you which will help determine your current and future spaces needs.

6. Trial Arrivals and Departures of Your Top Austin Office Buildings

Traffic in Austin is getting worse and worse so if you are not familiar with Austin it’s a good idea for you and your employees to do a few trial arrivals and departures to and from the office buildings that you are considering. Having to drive an hour each way every day in traffic means lost productivity for you and your employees so make sure you do this before choosing office space.
Spend a few mornings and actually leave your house between 7am and 8am to see what traffic is like at peak times in the morning. You might also leave the building at lunch time or at the end of the day to see what the outgoing traffic is like. You might also consider having a few of your employees do the same thing.
If you lease office space in SW or NW Austin along hwy 360 expect to have heavy traffic going 360 South from 183 in the mornings and the same going 360 North in the evenings.  Mopac (aka Loop 1) is stop n go traffic in the mornings and evenings no matter which way you are going.

7. Get Acquainted with the Neighbors

You’ve carefully consider the city you want to move to but have you thought about who your next door neighbor will be? If you are not from this area make sure you check the tenant directories to make sure you are not leasing space next to a major competitor.

8. How Much You Should Expect to Pay for Office Space in Austin

When renting office space in Austin you are typically charged by the square foot (SF) per year. For example if you lease 4,000 sf in downtown Austin at $50 sf your monthly rent would be $16,666 per month (4,000 x $50 = $200,000 per yr/ 12).
Office space in downtown Austin is the most expensive. Expect to pay $45 to $55 sf, PLUS parking fees that will range from $150 to $250 for EACH parking space.
Class A office space in the suburbs will range from $38 to $45 sf
Class B ranges from $27 to $35 sf

9. Try Making a Few Mobile Phone Calls at Each Location

If your company issues mobile devices to its employees make sure to try making a few phone calls in the spaces at each building to ensure you have a good signal. There are certain areas and buildings in Northwest and Southwest Austin along hwy 360 that are known to have bad reception.  Wireless boosters can help strengthen the signals however that will increase your costs so it’s important to know if you will need one upfront.

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