29 January 2020/ Office

A guide to finding an office space for an SME in Scotland

As well as being home to spectacular landscapes, stunning ancient architecture and a vibrant nightlife scene, Scotland is a fantastic place for SMEs. If you’re trying to decide where to set up or relocate your SME in Scotland, this guide should help you find an office space that is perfect for your business.

Why is Scotland a great place for SMEs to start a business?

Most of Scotland’s commercial success is down to SMEs and the millions of people they employ. The Scottish private sector is thriving; between March 2018 – March 2019, the number of Scottish enterprises rose by 2.8 percent.

There are 356,550 businesses in operation in Scotland, and SME’s account for 354,125 of these – providing 1.2 million jobs. In total, small businesses (0-49 employees, 98.2 %) and medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees, 1.1%) collectively account for nearly all private sector businesses and over half of its employment.

Which region of Scotland?

Glasgow and Edinburgh are both great choices when deciding where to set up for an SME. With the former being the country’s most populous city and the latter being the capital, they are both bursting with culture, have great transport links and plenty of office spaces to choose from.

But according to research by Paymentsense, Edinburgh has the edge over Scotland’s ‘second city’. Let’s break down this research to understand why:




Survival rate for start-ups after five years



Average monthly cost to rent a one-bed city centre apartment



Average weekly pay for full-time workers



Additional information

Research and development, financial services and higher education are the most lucrative sectors.

Higher quality of life when compared to South East England, making it an attractive spot for office spaces for employers and employees.

Business growth has been experienced in creative, retail, healthcare, biosciences and communications industries.

Has Scotland’s highest number of shoppers that support independent businesses, making it a great choice for retail SMEs.

There are lots of terrific office spaces across the rest of Scotland too. At Realla we have over 1,050 to choose from. Many of these are also in Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen, as well as the two major cities.

Finding an office space: the top 5 checklist

1. How much are you prepared to spend?

Of course, your budget is going to be a big factor when choosing the location, with Glasgow and Edinburgh rent prices usually trumping those of smaller towns. Therefore, you need to decide whether the higher profile you’ll have in a city-centre location is worth the extra cost and will add value to your business.

The average rent price for centrally located A/B office buildings is £35/£26 psf in Edinburgh and £32.50/£25 psf in Glasgow. For out of town properties you’re looking at £22/£18 psf and £17/£14 respectively.

We have offices in Glasgow for £12.86 psf, £17.00 psf and a wide range of other prices, depending on their proximity to the centre and individual features. In Edinburgh, we have offices available to rent for as low as £10.00 psf and for a prime central location we have one for £29.50 psf. To browse our full list click here.

2. Which area represents your business’ target customer/client base?

For instance, if your business appeals to students, look for offices in one of the major student cities. Then research which areas of the city tend to be student hubs. In Glasgow, this could be the fashionable West End, which would also be a good choice for SMEs with affluent families or pensioners as their target customers/client base. The East End is a more affordable option but is also close to Strathclyde University, so would still work well for student-focused businesses.

3. How will your team/clients/customers arrive to the office?

Finding an office space with plenty of parking spaces or close to a multi-storey car park is important when lots of people will be arriving by car. For instance, in remote areas that aren’t so well connected by public transport.

If you choose an office space with bus stops, tram stops and a train station nearby, it’s going to make the lives of employees and clients who don’t drive much easier.

In Glasgow, the Subway is the easiest way to get around the city centre and runs every five minutes at peak times. In Edinburgh, buses and trams are popular, however, due to its small size many prefer to travel by foot or bike.

4. What type of building works best?

Scotland has an incredibly varied architectural landscape. Glasgow boasts an eclectic mix of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings dating back to the 19th century. Edinburgh is home to even more history, with a higher concentration of old building than your usual European city.

Beautiful, historic buildings with big windows may be beneficial to creative businesses that want to impress clients. But modern buildings are more energy-efficient and better insulated, so they may be more practical for SMEs.

5. Do you need a furnished or unfurnished office space?

Have a think about your businesses specific requirements and decide whether you’ll be better of having a furnished/unfurnished space – and whether you want to reside in a serviced/unserviced office. If you’re not sure whether a serviced office is the best choice for your business click here.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, see our other guide for renting a commercial property in Scotland. We also have another post about how SMEs can find a new office space across the whole of the UK. If you’re an SME that’s moving office, make sure to read our office move checklist so you don’t forget any important steps.