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It’s no secret that the Bay Area is a mecca for startups. Hundreds of ideas have been born, funded, and launched from the Silicon Valley all the way up to San Francisco, and quite a few have found success in the process. But where do all these founders, designers, and developers spend their early days?

While renting a “real” office is out of the question for even those who land funding thanks to high price of real estate in the area, many startups set up shop in much cheaper cafés or co-working spaces. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of our favorite spaces to work in the Bay Area that don’t require a costly lease.

Public Spaces (lowest cost and commitment)

San Francisco Public Library

Need a quiet place to work or a free meeting room without all the bells and whistles offered in an office? The SFPL offers free Wi-Fi and meeting rooms for groups so you can get right to work. With dozens of locations, you don’t even need to spend much time trekking across town for a place to work, either.

What it’ll cost you: Nothing!

Cafes (low cost and commitment)

The Creamery

Located in San Francisco, this café offers not only a great cup of coffee with Wi-Fi, but also the chance to overhear great conversations such as entrepreneurs pitching VCs. Whether you’re keeping an eye on the competition – or just love to hear the juicy gossip before it hits our front page –  there’s nowhere better to “work” than The Creamery.

What it’ll cost you: About $5 for a cup of coffee (just don’t forget to tip!)

University Cafe

This café in Palo Alto is another one of our favorite places to work in the Bay Area. Like the Creamery, you can always find interesting (chatty) characters, and the café features a large open space to work, as well as a nice outdoor area. There’s Wi-Fi indoors and out. Whether you want to collaborate with others or just keep an ear out for interesting ideas, the University Cafe is a great choice.

What it’ll cost you: Also about $5 for a cup of coffee.

Co-working Spaces (medium cost and commitment)

Hub Bay Area

This co-working space offers some of the most enjoyable spots to co-work in the Bay Area, with two locations to choose from. In San Francisco, you will find two floors totaling 20,000 square feet of collaborative workspace. It also features an art gallery curated by Intersection for the Arts along with several meeting rooms, large event spaces, two full kitchens and cafés, and more than 125 work stations. Another location in Berkeley offers 2,000 square feet of LEED certified space that uses only natural light during the day and features Plyboo bamboo surfaces, Icestone countertops, Interface carpet, and Steelcase furniture. It also has a full kitchen/café, meeting rooms with writeable glass surfaces, and more than 30 work spaces for members. For those who enjoy the environment in which they work just as much as the work they do, working at Hub Bay Area is ideal.

What it’ll cost you: $30 day

Citizen Space

One of the first co-working spaces in San Francisco, Citizen Space has been recognized worldwide for its innovation. The space features dim lights and chandeliers, as well as other necessary resources such a Wi-Fi, a printer and copier, coffee and snacks, a projector, whiteboards, and flip charts. The space is notably small, however, and is best suited for the solo entrepreneur or contractor.

What it’ll cost you: $8/hour to drop in

The Hatchery

Be a social entrepreneur and mingle with other startups at The Hatchery. This shared space offers unlimited and secure 24/7 access to your own desk, located in a well-designed, furnished office space in the heart of SOMA. The Hatchery has a co-working space for both individuals and teams, including over a dozen shared conference rooms with Polycom phones and whiteboards which can accommodate four to 20+ people. The Hatchery provides WiFi, on-site management, mail-handing service, and a voicemail system. There’s on-call administrative and IT support, billed at affordable rate, as well as two shared kitchens with daily free coffee, tea, and water, and paid catering services for member functions. Alumni include ActiveMind, BeFunky, FanMinder and Tribal Crossing.

What it’ll cost you: $550-$650/mo (with a minimum 3 month commitment) for a dedicated desk.


RocketSpace is another great shared space located in San Francisco that offers desk and offices to startups, though membership is much more selective. RocketSpace has amenities most startups dream of, starting with the basics: a fully stocked kitchen with beer on Fridays. There’s also access to HR, legal and accounting services, and VCs and corporate investors. Alumni of RocketSpace include Zappos, PocketGems, Uber, Zaarly, Spotify, and Beatport, so those who work at RocketSpace will find no lack of inspiration or motivation.

What it’ll cost you: $500 to $800 per desk/mo.