6 Tips to Survive Tandem Parking

Tandem parking is probably the least enjoyable “tandem thing to do.” There’s tandem skydiving, tandem bikes, but tandem parking … doesn’t that sound like a hassle?

What is tandem parking?

Tandem parking means you have to essentially share one large spot with the person you live with.

If you live in an urban area where street parking is difficult to find, you’re probably lucky to have a parking spot at all. Many big cities and multifamily developers have reduced the number of parking in new complexes. Multifamily developers are seeing less of a need to build parking lots simply because city dwellers now have the option to hop on city bikes, scooters, ride-share or take public transportation.

In Seattle, for example, 30 percent of new buildings proposed in the past several years don’t include any parking at all. Some designers have advocated for parking garages to be built as flex space that can be converted. Additionally, it’s pretty common now for building management for newer developments to charge tenants for parking.

Despite the cost, some renters are still willing to pay 5 percent more for parking.

parking garage

How does tandem parking work?

Tandem parking is a very long parking spot in which two cars could park — one in front of the other. Technically, it’s two parking spots in either a covered or open lot, but if you were on the inside, the car behind you would need to back out in order for you to get out.

It may be one step above having to circle your block for a street parking spot, but if you and your household have busy schedules, it may pose an issue.

Why do some apartment buildings have tandem parking?

Apartment buildings have tandem parking mostly because space is limited. Older developments tend to have tandem parking, but new buildings also offer this kind of parking structure, as well. Buildings that use tandem spots may often be able to squeeze in more spots.

Here are six tips for managing and dealing with tandem parking with neighbors.

1. Consider a rotation

If the area outside your apartment isn’t all that crowded for street parking, try a rotation from month to month with your roommate. Flip a coin or negotiate to decide who gets to park in the spot. This could also be contingent on who has a busier work or travel schedule.

Perhaps it can change based on the season, as well. For example, in the colder winter months, you can make the rotation week to week since it’s not ideal to park outside in the harsh winter weather with snow on the ground.

empty parking spot

2. Pay extra to permanently claim the spot as yours

Depending on how much you covet your parking spot, perhaps you can negotiate to pay a little more each month to make the on-site spot yours.

Of course, this would only work if both parties agreed. However, it could be worth a shot, especially if your roommate wants to save a little cash each month.

If your roommate is not on board with this idea, perhaps you can look into nearby garages and find out how much they cost to rent each month.

There are also free apps such as SpotAngels and SpotHero to help you find parking spots in urban cities. You can set filters to show you garages or parking meters.

3. Understand your schedules

Because the cars are positioned one in front of the other, the most efficient first step is to understand your tandem partner’s daily schedule. This is probably the most important part of sharing a tandem spot, especially if the previous two tips aren’t an option. If you have similar working hours, a month-to-month swapping of who gets to park on the inside vs. outside may work out.

Whoever tends to leave first in the morning should park last, but schedules may change frequently, too. If that’s the case, communicate frequently about these changes. Also, consider getting a whiteboard to place near the door in your apartment that gives the latest update on when you need to leave in the morning or when you’ll arrive home in the evening.

4. Get a key

If you’ve ever seen a solo valet worker hustle to move cars to bring your car from the depths of the endless rows of cars, you know moving cars is time-consuming. While backing out your roommate’s car isn’t nearly as much work, it can definitely cause delays and isn’t ideal if you’re in a hurry.

In the event of an emergency or if you need to leave and they’re not home or still sleeping, you could give each other a spare car key.

Whether you keep the keys inside of a lockbox in the garage or on your keyring, having a plan for this will give both vehicle owners peace of mind.

girl on phone

5. Communicate often

If you both work sporadic schedules, send a text reminder of when you’ll be home and if you need to leave early in the morning. Having this plan could help you get in and out faster.

If you’re dealing with multiple people in your household who share two tandem spots, you may want to create a WhatsApp channel dedicated to schedule updates. There are also GPS apps that show in real-time when you’ll arrive home, in case your roommate needs to move their car before you get home.

6. Talk to your landlord

Perhaps you live in a building where you sometimes see empty parking spots.

Talk to your landlord, and see if you could pay a little extra to take one of the empty spots, even if it’s just temporary.

There’s no harm in asking your landlord about the options, especially if you and your roommate are having a hard time managing the tandem spot.

Tandem parking is manageable

While most apartment dwellers would rather have individual parking spaces rather than tandem spots, the way you manage it can make your lives easier.

Of course, tandem parking is a lot easier if you generally get along with your roommate(s). If you’re swapping extra car keys, it’s important to have trust and believe they won’t be careless with your car in case they need to move it.

Know each other’s schedules and communicate frequently about any changes or emergencies that may arise.

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Parking Options When Your Community Doesn’t Have a Parking Lot

Parking is an amenity that some people don’t even think about when looking to rent an apartment. But if you want the convenience of a covered garage or a guaranteed spot for your vehicle, it has to be part of your must-haves.

When a space is not included, then it becomes a much bigger deal. Do you live in an apartment complex that doesn’t have a parking lot? No worries, we’ve got a few options for you to consider.

1. Street parking

street parking

Depending on where you live, street parking may be an available option at no cost to you. While it may be free, it’s often on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means you’ll have to try your luck and find an open parking spot.

Know ahead of time that some street parking will cost you. Think metered spaces or a permit for a block or specific neighborhood. More often than not, time restrictions on parking will be part of the deal.

Keep an eye out for signs posted with instructions. Pay attention to avoid getting a ticket, having your car booted or towed.

2. Garage or lot parking

garage parking

If your complex or apartment building doesn’t have its own garage, then paid parking in a nearby garage is an option. Or, a parking lot within walking distance of your home. Parking lots are most common near shops, bars and restaurants, according to the Parking Network.

There are parking lots that are open throughout the year, but some are also improvised. Think of when you’ve gone to an event. Where do people park for a music festival that only happens once a year? There might be an open nearby meadow for parking, for example.

Paid parking lots and garages sometimes include a parking attendant. Gated entries require a ticket to enter and leave, or a machine to pay the parking fee. For this type of parking, you’re usually charged for the amount of time that you park. If your car is there for more than a few hours, you may incur a flat fee for daily parking.

When parking in an area that requires you to take a ticket, be sure to hold onto the ticket to leave. If you lose the ticket, you may pay a flat fee, which could be more than the cost of the time you actually parked in the space.

It’s a good idea to shop around for the best rate since costs vary from garage to lot. While comparing rates, look at whether it is cheaper to pay for daily vs. hourly parking.

3. Parking apps

parking app

Source: Parknay

Parking apps are one answer, especially in a lot of urban locales. Searching for and paying for parking has become easier because of parking apps. Some apps even let you make a reservation and will provide instructions on how to redeem parking at the garage.

Parknav is an app that offers real-time predictive street parking in more than 200 cities. Search the app for an address. Parknav displays a map with nearby streets. These streets are color-coded according to the likelihood of finding parking there.

That’s only one app out of many that help you find parking. Some apps are city-specific and there are even a few that help you save money. A quick search on your phone’s app store will give you a list of useful parking apps.

4. Ditch the car for public transportation

public transportation

Although it may not be ideal for everyone, public transportation is an option. Do you live in a transit-rich city? If you live in an area that’s easily accessible by mass transit or has everything you need within a short distance, you can always sell your car and use the bus, subway, train, bike or walk.

This option may save you money and will remove the stress of having to find parking. There’s a huge variation among different cities in the price of parking.

Park wisely

Parking is a problem when you live in an apartment without dedicated spaces. It’s also an issue when you’re a two-car family and you’ve only got one reserved space. Street parking could be lacking where you live. Especially in urban areas.

Some cities want to require the unbundling of parking space rentals from housing lease agreements, reports the Seattle Transit blog, which could lead to lower rents! Whatever the case, try to avoid parking in areas that are not well lit at night, block driveways or are in prohibited areas.

If you find that parking is important to you, keep this in mind for future apartment searches. But even if your apartment complex doesn’t have a parking lot, don’t stress. Just look around and know that you have options.

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