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On-Street vs. Off-Street Parking: Which Should You Choose?

Most drivers face when they're in a hurry choosing between a cheap street parking spot right by the curb or a secure garage further away. No more worry; we've explained on-street vs. off-street parking to help you decide.

Anyone who owns a vehicle knows that driving in a big city can be stressful. You need to keep an eye on a dozen things – wayward drivers, traffic signals, following driving etiquette, and many other rules! However, finding easy and convenient parking ranks right up on the list of things that give drivers the most heartburn. Unless you are someone who frequents establishments with valet parking, it's safe to say you'll have to find parking on your own. Before doing so, you need to consider a few things – like how easy it is to find a parking spot, how far it is from your destination, how safe this parking lot is, and whether you'll have to pay for it!

This blog post explains everything you may need to know about on-street vs. off-street parking.

What is on-street parking?

We assume that your travel destination does not have an official parking space; in that case, you'll look for a parking spot on the street near the curb. On-street parking is usually more affordable than off-street parking lots, which cost as little as $1-4 per hour. The on-street parking cost varies from city to city in the USA, but this is always the cheapest parking option around. On-street parking works when you're running on a tight budget and would rather save a few dollars on a parking spot than go for expensive lots. On-street parking is usually displayed by parking signboards, which show time limits, timings, and rates for parking.

How much does on-street parking cost?

In most cities, the standard rates for street parking range from $1-4 per hour. However, In special events, this parking cost increases to as high as $10 per hour when street parking is in high demand.

What rules should you know when parking on-street?

The drawback of street parking is the numerous rules and regulations, which can sometimes seem pretty unwieldy! Some of the on-street parking rules you need to consider include:

  • Maximum Time Limits: This ranges from two to twelve hours, depending on your city.
  • Parking Timings: In the US, Most metered parking is operational between certain times, e.g., between 8 A.M. - 8 P.M.; after these timings, those spots can either become no-parking zones or free parking zones. You may have trouble keeping them in mind when you're in a hurry.
  • No Parking Zones: Often, areas near government buildings and other sensitive landmarks are designated 'no parking' zones, making it harder to find spots nearby.
  • Street Cleaning Schedules: The timings are mentioned on the signboards. You could get a hefty ticket if you don't move your car before street cleaning starts.
  • Alternate Side Parking: This rule is followed in large cities like New York, where people must clear alternate sides of the street of cars before cleaning.

On-street parking: pros and cons


  • Cheap parking costs between $1-4 per hour
  • Convenient
  • Quick turnaround time
  • Free parking on certain stretches


  • Numerous parking rules (time limits, street cleaning, residential parking permits)
  • Costly parking penalty for violations (as high as $100)
  • Street parking rates can be high during events
  • Unreliable in crowded cities like NYC and Los Angeles – you'll rarely find vacant spots easily
  • No parking zones, overnight parking rules, etc. can play havoc
  • Risk of break-ins, scratches, and dents from careless drivers

What is off-street parking?

If you're not one to drive around several blocks looking for on-street parking, your best bet is to park off-street at a private garage near your destination. Off-street parking is available at private parking lots run by independent or third-party parking providers. Some examples of off-street parking include:

  • Single-level garages
  • Multilevel garages
  • Underground garages
  • Automated parking decks
  • Outdoor parking lots

The major benefits of off-site parking

  • You get a guaranteed parking spot since most garages have hundreds of spaces.
  • The second advantage is security – parking at a safe, indoor garage offers freedom from the many parking rules and other hazards of street parking.

How much does off-street parking cost?

Off-street parking lot rates can range from $10 to $60 depending on your city, the type of parking garage, and the amenities provided. For example, automated parking decks generally cost more than single or multi-level parking garages because of the technological complexity and amenities.

What rules should you follow when parking off-street?

Compared with on-street parking, off-street parking has very limited rules – or at least very few that could cost you money! Parking rules for off-street parking vary depending on the parking lot provider, but there are some general parking rules that you must follow, like:

  • Always park your car between the lines
  • Keep a maximum speed limit of 20 miles/hour
  • Do not cross-park/take up multiple spaces
  • Avoid tailgating (parking too close to another vehicle and causing obstruction)
  • Always give an indicator when driving or turning into a parking garage
  • Always check back for other vehicles before backing/moving out of a spot.

Off-street parking: Pros and cons


  • Convenient and contactless parking
  • Easy pre-bookings through parking apps
  • CCTC-enabled and secure garages
  • 24-hour parking attendants
  • Free shuttles for garages near airports
  • Discounts when booking through a parking app
  • Flexible hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly parking options – Great for regular commuters


  • High rates than street parking
  • Parking lots could fill up during special events
  • Automated decks may malfunction at times
  • Certain parking lots may not have shuttles due to low demand
  • Some garages have a height limit – cannot accommodate larger vehicles, e.g., trucks

On-street vs. Off-street parking: which to choose

On-street vs. off-street parking, which one to choose, everything depends on how well you know your destination. If you're a resident of the city who knows their way around very well, you can take a risk and try to wing it with on-street parking. However, if you're a tourist or new to a city, we recommend not taking any chances – pre-book an off-site parking spot before you head out to minimize your parking woes!

How can you find off-street parking near your destination?

Off-site parking is convenient and more affordable – you can save as much as 25% if you choose the right garage. Use a parking app like Let's Park to get the best deals. It shows you the top-rated garages near your destination and lets you compare prices and book a spot – all in a few swipes. You can do all this before you step out of your home and zoom straight into a contactless parking spot. So you get to save both time and money in exchange for a pleasant walk to your destination!

To learn more about Let's Park best car parking app.

  • Posted by parking appAdmin
  • On parking app nyc5 Sep 2022
  • parking app for rentTags: Parking App