Austin IS a great place for a startup, particularly for a software company. It's got three main industries: The University of Texas, the State Capital and Government, and Technology. I started Blue Fish here 10 years ago because the quality of developers is much better than in Houston where I was living. Also, the quality of life here is amazing - great music, a laid back culture, and lots of outdoor activities. Austin is a liberal town surrounded by the rest of conservative Texas, so it has a feel very different from other Texas towns.
I currently pay $12 per square foot for very nice Class A office space in Downtown Austin. It's a triple net lease, so I also pay some maintenance fees, etc. We have about 8,500 square feet with normal offices (no cubicles). We pay $125 per month for each parking space.
I prefer office space in Downtown since there are tons of restaurants and lots of clubs to walk to after work - my employees appreciate that they can use their parking space to come downtown on the weekends. There are two bar/club areas downtown: 6th street, which caters to people in their 20s, and the Warehouse District, which is geared more towards those in their 30s. The options downtown range from old historic buildings to 20-40 year old office towers to a handful of brand new office towers that have been built in the past few years.
There are a few other sections of town where office space is cheaper, but it tends to be souless suburban office parks that I can't really deal with.
A buddy of mine runs a company that lists sub-leases in Austin. You can see some of them at www.AustinSubleases.com to get an idea of what some of the rents are going for.
You might want to check out this place since you are in Austin.
http://techranchaustin.com/ I heard about them from a biz spark email. And if you don't know what that is:
http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/BizSpark/Pages/At_a_Glance.aspx Looks like they will let you rent month to month, here is a link to their rates:
As of April 1st, 2011 Austin office space "quoted" lease rates average $24.50 sf for all classes of office space. Other quoted averages: Class A Office - $28.44, Class B - $21.19, Class C - 18.59, Downtown Austin - $32.63, Suburban Office - $23.19. Most landlords appear to be holding firm on their quoted rental rates, however are offering more concessions in the form of free rent and tenant improvements, which can be misleading to Tenants. Tenants must focus on effective rental rates and not on what the landlords are quoting, since when you factor in all lease concessions such as free rent and tenant improvements, the overall effective rate tends to be lower.
Almost every coworking space in Austin is expanding and Cospace is opening new locations throughout central Texas to meet the demand for collaborative office space. To put it differently, the cost of office space is increasingly justified not in just having an office but in the value of such a space. Rather than considering a space based on the going rate for a square foot of your own, take a look at the spaces with offices available.
Offices within a coworking environment offer access to the collaborative work environment, events, classes, and facilities management, as well as the network of entrepreneurs and freelance professionals who work within the space. Perhaps more valuable, there is no such thing as a lease. Depending on the size of your team, you can find yourself in an office, month to month, for a few hundred bucks.
I guess that really depends on the kind of image you are looking to have, your space needs, and monthly budget. Typically Austin office lease rates range from $14 SF (class C) up to $40 SF (class A) full service (Would include base rate, operating expenses, electric, janitorial, etc..). Downtown Austin obviously has the energy and vibe that a lot of startups like, however depending on their monthly budget that is not always the most affordable option. For those seeking "value" space there are only a few options downtown.......of course that depends on your space requirements.
A good place to start is to determine the maximum amount of money you can set aside for monthly rent, the size space you need and then scout the market.