The NYC Parking Survival Guide - 4 Tips to Find the Perfect Spot

Whether it’s your car, a ZipCar, a U-Haul, or a friend who came to visit, you’re gonna have to park that ride somewhere. And, in New York City, that somewhere is never easy to find. 

With tens of thousands of cars squeezing through the five boroughs daily, getting used to parking madness can be one of the hardest things to adjust to for NYC newcomers. But, don’t give up that ride just yet; there is a parking spot out there for everyone. The key is knowing where to find it.

Here are a few tips to help with your vehicular struggle:

1. Know The Rules

Alternate side parking. Parking only from 4pm to 10pm. One-hour parking. No parking. No stopping. And sometimes, standing. Needless to say, there are an infinite amount of guidelines and restrictions in the NYC parking game, adding up to a traffic-related, on-street headache. But, like any other system, you have to learn how to work it. Find your block on the Department of Transportation’s virtual map, which shows off your neighborhood’s rules, and use it to formulate strategies. Like showing up at the end of the restriction, or waiting for someone to leave after their hour is up. You can even stand at the curb, just to unload your things. Believe us: where there’s a parking spot, there’s a way.

2. It's the Holiday Season

One of the secrets of parking in New York is the city’s recognition of holidays, which can temporarily affect—and often suspend—all on-street parking rules. In other words, it’s an absolute free-for-all. These happen often, so the best way to keep up is to follow the NYC DOT’s Twitter traffic account. Your hope here is that someone somewhere doesn’t know the Lunar New Year is free game for parking. The logic: they pull out; you pull in.

3. Get Street Smart

It’s New York nature to learn the shortcuts and specialties of your surroundings, whether it’s the fastest route to the subway, or the best coffee shop to grab a drink at. The same can apply to knowing where the best streets to park are. Over time, you’ll start to pick up which blocks are more crowded than others (streets over avenues, always), and the best times to find parking (avoid rush hours, of course). Or if all else fails, use SmoothParking.com, which provides you with a highlighted map of the city’s parking situation. There is a reason why your neighbors have their parking spots marked out—they’ve been doing this for a while.

4. Gizmos for the Garages

Parking garages are common currency in New York; they dot the city streets, each offering a different price for a certain amount of time. The best thing about them is that they’re instant wins: you’re basically guaranteed a spot, saving you time, but, unfortunately, not money. That said, there are new sites out there dedicated to helping you sort through the best and worst, so you can find one that is both affordable and close by your destination. The most popular ones are BestParking and SpotHero, which let you compare prices and book online in advance. If you’re gonna spend money, might as well do it the smartest way possible.

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