Questions to ask yourself before renting a studio/ office space
I have been running and operating Pink Millennial out of my home for over a decade. While the dream was to always get my own studio space, it always felt just out of reach. While so many people started working from home during the pandemic, I quickly realized working from home was holding me back. I was constantly struggling with that perfect “work/home” balance and lockdown just made it even harder to stay productive and motivated. I just wanted to sit around in my loungewear watching reruns of Seinfeld and playing with my fur babies. This is when I knew it was time to find my own creative space. I needed a creative space, outside of the home, so I could officially separate my work life from my home life.
I, of course, had doubts. I was scared and nervous, but at the same time, super excited about this new adventure. Derek and I spent months searching for that perfect space, so I thought I’d go over some of the questions I asked myself before I started looking. Some tips on how I found my dream location and what it took before signing and committing to a rental agreement.
First up, decide if you really need a space or just “want” one. There comes a point when you simply can no longer work out of your home. This might be because your business is growing quickly, and you no longer want strangers coming in and out of your personal space. Maybe you’ve hired an employee(s) and need that extra bit of space. Basically, if you’re turning down work or don’t’ have enough room in your home to fully thrive, it might be time to upgrade to your own office/studio?
Next up, what type of space do you need. Is your business open to the public, therefore requiring easy access for your clients and customers? Do you employee several staff members, all requesting their own cubicle or office space? Are you selling products that might need extra storage and space? The amount of square footage is extremely important when you first start looking. You don’t want to go too large at the beginning that you go over budget, but you should also consider having a little wiggle room in case you want to grow and expand.
Speaking of budget, after you have an idea of square footage, you need to come up with a realistic budget. Like the housing market, rental properties come in at all different price points, depending on their location, age of building and amenities. We quickly found this out, the same size footage can range a few thousand dollars in difference. Rent isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Some of the less expensive places can add up quickly if you are required to pay for your hydro, gas, water, etc., separately. Don’t forget about security deposits, moving fees, furnishings, decorations, and insurance. For long-term rentals, make sure you can safely afford first and last months payments, along with a few other months in case you have some terrible months in a row (cue in Covid). Also factor in driving to and from your new space, just because one is “less” expensive, if in 30 plus mins away from home and you’re doing that, it can add up quickly.
Before you sign anything, get to know your landlord and building owner(s). A commercial lease agreement is a little different than a rental property, and a good written contract will help ensure both landlord and tenant know what their rental rights and responsibilities are. We ran into several “shady” rental property owners, and I think doing research and a little background search is sometimes overlooked. If this is going to be your second home for the foreseeable future, you want to make sure you’re in the right partnership before moving forward. Sometimes the person you do the tour/ walkthrough with, isn’t actually the building owner and might not have all the correct information. Finding out as much info as possible is always key before making an investment into your business. Things to keep in mind, do you have the same work values, what is their financial situation, do they own any other properties, are they making good on their payments and keeping up with the property, etc.
Now that we have those 4 main concerns out of the way, let’s talk about Pink Millennial’s new Studio Space. Let’s go over my checklist. I was obviously looking for a space with a ton of natural light, this was non-negotiable. I also wanted a space that had a 15-foot blank wall so I could get as creative as I liked with my set designs. This would be a slight upgrade from my current 10-foot wall in my home. As for the location, I wasn’t too picky. I didn’t require foot-traffic, or easy accessibility for clients, I just knew I wanted it within a 15-minute drive of my home. Finally, the budget, I didn’t want to spend more than my current mortgage. Since the space wasn’t necessarily bringing me in extra income, it was just more of a luxury of getting out of my home.
I was lucky enough to come across The Focal Point Group on social media, and discovered they owned and operated several locations in the London area. We originally fell in love with their South Street location, loved the exposed brick in several of the offices and just the overall aesthetic and vibe of the building. It wasn’t until we saw their Victoria Professional building that we knew this was our dream location. I’ve always been into supporting local and family fun businesses when I can, so when the Rains family showed me a brand-new space that just went up for rent on Waterloo Street, I knew it was meant to be. It was everything I was looking for, and since the Rains family genuinely care and take an interest in your business, they even painted the floors and walls for me, in pure white, so it was ready to start shooting the moment we arrived.
Like I mentioned above, the size of building, budget and location all have a major factor when picking your new space, but I honestly believe the owners of the building are just as important. We’ve all had to deal with awful landlords who don’t actually care about you, it is always about the money and their bottom line (trying to do things half ass just to make a quick buck). The entire Rains family is amazing, and I get to chat with them on the weekly. They have been in business since 2005 and with 10+ properties across Western Ontario, I know if my business ever grows, they can find me a location to accommodate my wants and needs. Their “goal is not to acquire buildings, just to acquire them, but rather to develop long-lasting relationships with our tenants so that we can grow alongside of them.” – Ross Rains.
I’ve even introduced 2 of my friends to the TFPG team, (one of which is moving into the building this week, and another who is probably signing papers soon), who like myself, fell in love with the entire team, the direct communication, dedication and integrity they offer, and are now sharing the Victoria Building with myself and many others. I tell you, if you’re looking for an office space in London, I highly recommend reaching out to me, or the Focal Point team for more details and info on this fabulous building.