Co-working spaces are, in many ways, exactly like the stereotype you’re probably picturing -- free organic coffee (and sometimes beer), couches for lounging, ping pong or foosball tables and a sea of young people busy on Apple computers. While these kind of amenities may be the first thing that jumps to mind when you consider joining a co-working space, the real value is under the hood. Here’s a list of key benefits you should consider.

1. You can afford it.

Sure, the rents generally aren’t cheap on a per-square-foot basis (sorry, I’m in real estate), but there are so many options that you can find the right fit on almost any budget. It may cost more than stealing WiFi at a coffee shop but it’s affordable way sooner than a long-term office lease.

2. Grow your space as you grow your company.

Nothing is static for a startup and co-working spaces are designed to be flexible and accommodate growth. Have five employees one month and 10 the next? No problem, you can switch to a bigger office down the hall.

Related: The Case for Office Space: Choices for Every Stage and Need

3. They're ready with stuff you don’t even know you need.

Co-working companies are very familiar with the needs of startups and most of them offer a variety of services that can help your business grow. These range from pitch nights in front of investors to mundane things like help with benefits and accounting. Even if the company itself can’t help, you can always ask your neighbor for advice.

4. Network, network, network.

While young people are definitely the dominant demographic in co-working spaces, the ecosystem of people, companies and industries is actually incredibly diverse. For every tech startup, there’s a lawyer in private practice or a video production company. You never know who you’ll meet and how you might be able to collaborate.

Related: Why It's Time to Redesign the Way We Think About Office Space

5. Surround yourself with positive energy.

Don’t underestimate how psychologically hard startup life can be. There will be times when you doubt yourself, your company and your mission and many nights when you’re working late while your friends and family are doing something fun. Surrounding yourself with smart, dedicated and hard-working people is the best cure for the startup blues. Whatever challenges you’re facing, someone else has probably already faced (and conquered) them, and it’s great to have a constant reminder of that.

Related: Forget the 'Open Workspace.' Say Hello to the 'Balanced Workspace'

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