Parking in New York City is an expensive pain in the ass. I know, I’ve had a car here for the past 7 years.
Since most city residents don’t have driveways or home garages, keeping a car means you have 2 choices:
1. Park on the street.
2. Pay for a monthly space in a lot.
Ditching your car in the Hudson is only an option for Jimmy Hoffa types.
I know New Yorkers who put their cars in a lot or parking garage. Some of them pay a lot of $$$ for the privilege. Others, walk a half mile or more to a cheaper lot.
I know people – self-included - who make moving their car part of a twice weekly routine. Heading out at night to search for “free street parking” or driving around until a street has been cleaned and they pick any spot.
I also know a few people who park on the street and don’t move their cars. They take the ticket from the city and think of it as their monthly parking expense. In essence, the city streets are parking lot and these folk pay the city (in fines) for the privilege to park on the street.
As a neighbor who does this told me, parking tickets are cheaper than paying a parking lot.
Could paying a fine actually be cheaper than paying for a monthly parking space? Here’s what I found out.
Parking on NYC streets is free, assuming you move your car to abide by the alternate side parking rules. This “alternate side parking” is the city’s way of making sure the streets get cleaned and traffic cops can raise needed revenue.
In case you’re not familiar with alternate side of the street parking; it means one side of a street is off-limits to parking for 90 minutes on any given day. On my street, the rule is in effect Monday 11:30 – 1pm on the East side of the street and Tuesday 11:30-1pm on the West side of the street. A few blocks away from me the rule is Thursday/Friday. So, if I’m parked on the “Monday side” and I forget to move my car, I will get a ticket. If I remember to move my car to the correct side of the street, I should never have to pay a parking fine.
Hence, NYC Free parking!
The other option for New Yorkers is to pay a garage or parking lot. Most people who live in Manhattan are forced to park in a pay lot because street parking is tough. It’s just easier to avoid the hassle and pay for a space.
Now, if you didn’t want to pay for a lot, but you didn’t want to be bothered moving your car on the street, it is possible that a parking ticket can be cheaper than paying for monthly parking. Or so I found out.
(Note: This is just overview research. I didn’t call every parking lot and find the best, cheapest rate.)
I searched monthly fees for car parking in a few locations. A company called Icon Systems says they charge an introductory rate in Manhattan between $200 - $475 a month. The normal, non-introductory rate fluctuate from $250 - $700 a month, Or more.
Quik Park offers intro rates from $225 to $450 a month for Manhattan. The rate lowers from $150-200 in their 3 Brooklyn lots. The non-intro rates are another $50-$75 higher.
Since I live in Brooklyn, I looked up some local parking lot options. Prices range from $150 - $300+ depending on the area. The more populated the area the more expensive it is.
And, like anything, garage rates go up each year and involve tipping parking attendants. (No holiday bonus? Expect extra scratches on your door panel.)
Meanwhile, a parking ticket costs sixty-five bucks.
According to NYC Parking Violation code #68 - “Not parking as marked on a posted sign” – is a $65 fine.
So those who use the street as their garage would usually get a $65 ticket once a week.
Potentially, that’s $260 a month to park on the street in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, where most street parking requires you to move 2 days a week, that cost balloons to $520.
Still $260 or $520 in tickets is cheaper to what it would cost to park at a garage in Brooklyn. And it’s a competitive rate against Manhattan parking lots.
Now, when it comes to parking in NYC, price isn’t the only thing to consider.
Location: Most garages are under high-rise buildings or in less populated areas like on the outskirts of Manhattan like 11th or the West Side Highway. I know someone who lives on East 14th street who goes all the way over to West 30th street and 11th avenue to retrieve his car. A ½ hour walk just to get to your car. Zoom-Zoom!
In Brooklyn, where there’s more street parking, garages tend to be further apart. Parking on the street is much more convenient.
Garages/Lots: In populated areas like Manhattan’s Upper West or Upper East Side or Brooklyn’s Park Slope, garages have waiting lists. Just because you move into a building with a garage underneath or nearby, doesn’t mean there are spots available. Or that you can afford them.
Now street parking comes with potentially costly risks.
First, you have to pay your tickets. And you WILL get tickets if you don’t move your car. If you pay them online, the $65 ticket is actually $67 since they tack on a $2 processing fee.
Second, if NYPD realizes you’re not moving your car, they’ll put a large sticker on it telling neighbors that you’re an asshole. (Or that you have stopped the street from being cleaned.) This sticker is a pain to remove. Props to the glue maker for creating this particular sticker adhesive.
Third and worst of all, your car will get booted and towed. The fine for towing is costly. Trust me. You pay for the tow, the cost of the impound lot and the ticket. This could be more expensive than the most expensive monthly Manhattan lot.
Okay, so in the end, choosing where and how you want to park in NYC depends on a few things. But, if you just look at the cost of a ticket versus the cost of a parking lot, my neighbor was right. Mostly.
Parking tickets are cheaper, or are at least comparable, to a monthly parking fee.
Choosing to pay the city rather than a garage is a personal choice. And not one I’d advise. But, you’re free to do it and, in some cases, save money.
No matter what you choose, may you always have good parking karma.
Your parallel parking champ,