How to Find City Parking

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City parking (Photo: @KiraYan via Twenty20)
If you are a regular driver in the city or even go downtown only occasionally, finding city parking can be a hassle. If you’ve ever circled the block looking for meters or tried to figure out a garage location on the fly, you could probably benefit from a more planned course of action to make driving in the city a little less stressful.
Not only will you be able to get where you are going in a more timely fashion, but you’ll certainly save yourself a few gray hairs as well. Here’s how to find both temporary and permanent parking spots in any city.

How to find temporary city parking

If you’re going to be spending only a couple of hours in the city, if you’re only visiting, or if you have business to take care of, you’ll want to consider temporary parking like parking meters or commuter garages.
Step 1: Use an app. The advance of technology, especially on phones, makes it much easier to find parking. There are countless apps out there to help with the process of parking, such as ParkMobile and Parker, making it far easier to find a spot in advance. You can use the app to locate a garage or a meter location, and all you have to do is get there. Once you’ve found the spot, you can pay using your phone and even add time to the meter should you take longer than expected to get back to your car.
Step 2: Find a spot on the fly. If you aren’t tech savvy or simply didn’t have the time to find a spot beforehand, you should know how to find a spot yourself if necessary.
The first thing to do is to check side streets. If you’re taking a main thoroughfare into the city, it’s not likely that you’ll find a spot along that route. If the city even has meters on such a busy road, those spots are probably taken or will be an extremely tight fit. Side streets often have more meters and fewer of them are taken.
If you’re looking for meters in the heart of the city, it might be wise to expand your search. If you don’t mind walking an extra block or two, then consider checking a littler further away from your destination.
Your difficulty in finding a spot is going to depend on your familiarity with the city. If you’re a seasoned parking pro, you’re probably going to know what streets routinely have the most available spots. If you are in town less often, make the best of the time you are there by taking notice of emptier streets so you know where to go the next time around.

How to find permanent city parking

If you’re a resident or will be in the city regularly for a job, you may want to consider finding more permanent parking. This will help you avoid the hassle of finding a spot every day and will certainly make your commute a little less stressful.
Step 1: Contact the city’s parking agencies. Each city is different, so reach out to those who manage parking in the city to inquire about getting a permanent spot. There may be several companies in charge of parking, so compare the rates on each. And if you’re having to park because of work, see if it is possible to be reimbursed on the rate.
Step 2: Use third party parking options. If you’re not happy with the rates being offered by the bigger parking companies, find individuals who may be selling extra spots.
If someone has a home in the city with an extra spot, you may be able to pay them to use it. Craigslist is a valuable resource to help put you in contact with a potential seller. Obviously, the pricing on this is going to vary, so you do your research before you end up paying more than you should.
Cars parked on busy streets are more susceptible to being side-swiped or vandalized. If you’re parking in the city, make sure you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have good car insurance coverage.