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The best UK cities for co-working

January 10, 2018

A new study examining 18 major UK cities reveals;

  • Edinburgh is the most popular city for co-working spaces
  • Leeds and Bristol are the next best.
  • Brighton & Hove named as least favourable city.
  • London near the bottom of the rankings.

Starting a business – office space options

The New Year brings about a time of change, sparking many to take the opportunity for a new beginning in both their personal and professional lives, so it’s not surprising that January is the most popular month to start a business.

When launching a new business, there are many important decisions that need to be made early on. These include addressing questions over whether you should go self employed or set up a company, which accounting software to use, where to find startup funding and where to base your new business.

For a new business, it can be expensive and difficult to find office space especially for businesses operating with only one employee.

As a result, many entrepreneurs start their business from home. While this is effective for those starting out, it can be difficult to separate work and home life, and once you hire your first employee, this approach is no longer feasible.

Co-working can suit startups

In the modern age, a common solution is to move into co-working spaces with other, similarly sized companies, as a means to cut the cost of office space.

Co-working is becoming increasingly popular with startups and small businesses. As well as being cheaper than renting dedicated office space, co-working can offer other benefits to freelancers and fledgling businesses.

Co-working spaces can also boost creativity as they can help you to interact with other businesses, and for one-man bands they can provide a great support network.

MoneySuperMarket analysed and ranked 18 cities across the UK to determine where in the country best caters for entrepreneurs seeking co-working space.

A number of key factors, such as the cost per workstation, broadband speed and the number of co-working spaces available were included in this ranking to determine which cities are the most desirable places to co-work.

Co-working hotspots

The research found Edinburgh to be the best city for co-working spaces, due to its excellent cost per workstation and strong local broadband speed.

At the opposite end of the scale, Brighton & Hove ranked last due to the limited number and costly desk space.

The results revealed that the most attractive cities for co-workers are:

1. Edinburgh

Surpassing the UK’s capital in terms of number of co-working spaces available with an average 11 available per thousand people. Edinburgh also fared excellently on average cost per desk (£300), local broadband speed (34 mbps), and low business insurance claims noted.

2. Leeds

With a low average cost per desk (£264) and among the lowest volumes of business insurance claims, Leeds only faltered slightly when it came to availability of spaces available compared with other UK cities with only 8 per thousand people.

3. Bristol

A growing business centre for those looking for opportunities outside of London, Bristol surprisingly had below average numbers of co-working spaces available (5 per thousand people, 47 overall) but made up for this with its low costs per desk (£266) and speedy broadband.

4. Northampton

As well as near chart-topping broadband speeds at 36.2 mbps, Northampton has access to the SEMLEP Growth Hub, which offers advice and an extended reach in seeking out worthwhile finance options for anyone looking to start a new business.

5. Nottingham

Nottingham offers one of the lowest average costs per desk in the country at £218. The Creative Quarter also makes being a start-up business in this area even more attractive, offering grants and funding for tech and life science businesses, including a loan between £500 and £25,000 at a 6% interest rate over five years to start-ups in the area.

Co-working rankings

The rest of the cities were ranked as follows (average cost of a co-working desk space);

6. Birmingham (£223)

7. Glasgow (£256)

8. Aberdeen (£266)

9. Belfast (£247)

10. Milton Keynes (£432)

11. Liverpool (£247)

12. Oxford (£295)

13. Sheffield (£199)

14. Manchester (£271)

15. Cardiff (£256)

16. London (£613)

17. Newcastle (£223)

18. Brighton (£432)

High cost of co-working space hits London

Despite the highest total number of co-working spaces and decent availability even when high competition for space is factored in, London’s exorbitant workstation prices and high costs on business insurance policies drove it to 16th position out of the 18 cities analysed.

The capital beat only Newcastle, where a lack of spaces and indicators of an unfriendly start-up environment lowered local opportunities, and Brighton.

However, new business owners should still bear in mind that the capital has the country’s greatest access to a wide range of finance, from funds to loans to angel investments and venture capital, meaning financial opportunities might still outweigh the draw back the study found in co-working here.

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