Nothing signals the end of the workday more than pulling up to your apartment, sliding your car into your parking space and knowing your living room couch is mere steps away. But not every complex or building makes this transition so seamless. What if your apartment doesn't have a parking lot or provide any parking at all?
Having a space to park your car is a big factor in the price of your rent. You may have to rent a space in your complex's lot or garage. And even if you have free parking, the odds are that the price of parking is already baked into your rent. Keeping prices down for renters is a big reason why apartment owners are forsaking parking for tenants and leaving residents to their own devices to find a place for their cars to sleep.
“Parking on site is the difference between a $750 apartment and a $1,200 apartment. Or, the difference between apartments and condos," apartment developer Dave Mullens told Oregon Public Broadcasting. In some cities like Portland, OR, parking isn't even being considered in new apartment construction, where nearly two-thirds of recent projects don't provide tenant spaces.
So, if you don't have built-in apartment parking where you live or are considering moving to, what are your options?
Depending on where you live, street parking can be either be the best or the worst option. If you live in a residential area with few businesses and little competition for street spots, your only real concern is how far you have to walk to your front door. But if you live in a high-density area, your daily battle to find the right space — or any space — might be the most stressful part of your day.
No matter where you reside, get familiar with the parking regulations on your street and in your neighborhood. Be sure you know the minimum distance you have to be from a fire hydrant or corner, how long you can park, if you're allowed to park overnight and when street cleaning or opposite side parking happens. There's a lot to consider when street parking is your daily choice, and that doesn't even take into account the expense of parking meters if you have them.
TFW you find street parking right in front of your apartment ????????????????
— julie (@julie_alicea) July 27, 2019
Don't forget, in most places, a broken meter means a free parking space. But don't be surprised if you get a ticket anyway. Parking enforcement would rather put the onus on you to fight the ticket, even if they know you'll win.
If you have to feed a meter anyway, a municipal parking lot may be a better choice. City-owned lots are fundamentally no different than the street, just with a lot less parallel parking. Most municipal lots are set up with meters at each space, with a flat fee to enter or with a timed ticket.
While lots such as this can be very convenient (and keep you from fighting for a street space), most have many rules about length of time and overnight parking. Be sure you read all the signage thoroughly. Such lots are hard to come by, fill up quickly and security may be lower or non-existent compared to a private lot, so be aware of where you're parking, especially overnight.
Of course, most parking lots are not municipal-owned, but rather private enterprises. If you're convenient to one, a private lot or private garage can be the most hassle-free option, and usually much safer (for you and your car) than the street or a city lot. Most private lots and garages are paid for by the hour with a timed ticket. If you're lucky, you can find one that has a flat fee or only charges every time you enter or exit.
However, the cost of parking in private lots and garages can add up very, very quickly. Check with management to see if there are discounts for parking for a longer number of hours, if you can purchase a weekly or monthly pass or if your complex or job has a partnership for rebates. Also, ask if you can be assigned a good permanent space so you are always closer to an exit or won't be boxed in by stack parking.
Some areas offer valet parking as an alternative to on-site parking. For the most part, there are two types of this service.
sure living in a city rowhouse is fun and all but every time I have to street park with a full bladder, I desperately miss my apartment that had valet parking
— RTV (@R_Vols) June 30, 2019
First, there's the sort that isn't much different than at a restaurant or hotel. If you're fortunate, your complex or building will offer on-site valet, meaning the valet service is right at your front door. When you get back from work or play, you pull up, hand the keys to the valet who takes your car to some unknown location and you go home. When you're ready to leave again, call or text the valet to bring your car around, walk down to the valet station and wait for your car to come to you.
But if you're like nearly everyone, your apartment building doesn't offer valet. That's fine because some private lots and garages do. It works just about the same as above, with a few added steps. Instead of driving to your building, you drive to the garage you've contracted with and pick up a driver. You drive your driver to your apartment where you get out and hand them your keys, and they drive your car back to the garage for storage.
When you need your car again, you text or call the garage to come to get you, the driver comes and picks you up and then you need to drive the driver back to the garage before going on about your day. This option has the disadvantages of costliness and inconvenience. During busy times, you may be waiting a long while for your car to come to pick you up.
Hey, just because your complex or building doesn't offer parking that doesn't mean that another complex or building nearby won't! Call around to other buildings and complexes and ask if they rent out unused spaces to non-residents. They might rent spaces directly if there are no assigned spaces or they might put you in touch with a resident that isn't using their space.
Similarly, call around to a local business or offices in your neighborhood to find out if you would be allowed to park in a store's lot after closing hours or if you can rent out unused space. Some may not even have considered this money-making opportunity before. As long as you have permission from the business owner, you can't be towed or ticketed.
Search social media and sites like Craigslist (or your local pennysaver or supermarket bulletin board) for people looking to rent out unused parking spaces. Individual private owners abound renting single parking sites like unused spaces in their apartment complex lots, place of business or even in their own driveway. There are even apps like Pavemint and Curbflip that facilitate this too, just think of them like Uber for parking spaces.
$600 per month // That’s the top average rate in New York and London to rent a parking space. https://t.co/618MjR2yX0
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) November 3, 2017
Just always make sure the person renting you their space has permission from the proprietor if they don't own the location.
Your complex or building doesn't offer parking to residents, but for sure they have parking for management and staff, right? If you know your landlord or folks in the leasing office well, why not ask them if they can covertly rent out a staff spot at night to you or if they have other areas of the complex at which you could get permission to park.
And if not, the management staff might have some great tips of where else in the neighborhood you can park that others don't know or haven't thought of.
If none of those options work for you, maybe it's time to give up your car. If parking becomes an unreasonable hassle and unmanageable expense, you might be better served by selling your car and relying on mass transit, walking, bicycles, cabs or rideshares.
On the upside, not only will you not have to fight for a parking space every night, you'll see more of your city and maybe even get some great exercise!