How To Find Parking In New York City Without Paying Fees

"New York City" and "saving money" are not words one often sees in the same sentence. But, believe it or not, there are ways to visit this city on a budget. Currently, 97% of on-street parking in New York City is free. However, because of this, actually finding a spot to park in can be a nightmare. Drivers in NYC might wander around for 10, 20, or 30 minutes just looking for parking, meanwhile accumulating miles on their cars and emitting pollution.

When visiting the Big Apple, it's usually most cost-effective to just use public transportation. After all, New York City has one of the most robust subway systems in the world. However, sometimes this isn't an option, or you'd just prefer to drive yourself around without relying on cabs or trains.

As you'll quickly discover when you arrive in the city, though, this isn't so easy. So you may consider paying a fee to park in off-street parking garages, where you'll often be charged a premium. Here's what you can do to avoid these fees and save some money for a Broadway show or a couple slices of pizza.

Tips for finding free parking in New York City without getting a ticket

Most on-street parking is subsidized by the city of New York to make parking more financially accessible. But where can you park, and when? Ideally, the best advice we can give is to park outside of the city and take a train. This is truly the best way to save money on parking. Just be aware that while many of the lots around the train stations are free, some require permits and do not allow overnight parking, so read the signs carefully.

If you do decide to drive in the city, the same advice applies. Be very discerning and read the signs — all of them — carefully. The police in the city are incredibly ticket happy, and maybe rightfully so. No one should get special treatment.

Here are a few other things to be aware of when parking. Metered spots are free on Sundays. As always, read the signs to see if there are limits on the hours of the day or the length of time you can park there. On major holidays the rules around standing and alternate side parking (rules for street cleaning days) are suspended. You can also park for free during off-hours in some areas without meters. Again, just be sure you pay attention to the signs!

Ways to park in New York City that are not free but more convenient

Parking in a parking garage is far from free but definitely more convenient, and one could even argue it's a bit safer, too. However, like most things in New York City, the prices can be a bit steep. You might pay between $20 to $50 dollars a day, sometimes more.

The lower-priced garages do fill up quickly but if you arrive early you should be able to get a spot. There are even parking garages that offer valet services where you can just show up, pay for your parking, and hand over the keys to a valet who will park your car and bring it to you at the end of the day. If you want to park in a specific area of the city and lock in a cheaper daily price, you can use apps like SpotHero or BestParking, which allow you to reserve parking spots in advance and see prices in real-time.