Parking in Boston: Parking Options at Every Price

Parking in Boston can be difficult, expensive, and time consumingParking in Boston can be a nightmare. Let’s get that out of the way right now.

In order to qualify for a resident permit that allows for parking on the street in one of Boston’s neighborhoods, the car has to be registered and insured in Boston. Unless the car was previously registered in New York City, insurance premiums will most likely increase with a Boston registration.

Resident street parking can be more or less painful depending on the neighborhood. The worst neighborhoods for parking in Boston are Beacon Hill and the North End, and honorable mention goes to Back Bay. All three have more residents with cars than streets for parking.

Once you find a parking spot you have to remember which day of the week street cleaning occurs in the neighborhood or it will be towed. In a snow emergency, the car cannot be parked on a main street or it will be towed. The good news is you can sign up for email alerts through the City of Boston’s No Tow program.

If searching for parking in Boston does not sound appealing, renting a parking space is an option. There are parking spaces to rent all over Boston with prices varying all over the city. One uncovered full parking space can start at $250 a month in Back Bay. The starting rate for a garage parking space in Back Bay can be $375 a month and valet garage spaces are even higher.

If you are flexible, there are a couple ways to save some money on renting a parking spot. Renting a tandem spot can cost $200 a month. A tandem parking space is wide enough for one car but long enough for two. To prevent either driver from blocking the other, each will each exchange keys with the other. Also, many garages offer a reverse commute option which is ideal for those who live in the city and work outside the city. These reverse commuting options have different hours depending on the garage but the standard allows for access between 4pm-8am during the week and anytime on weekends and holidays. The garage will usually allow for one or two sick days a month. These reverse commute spots can start as low as $115 a month.

Buying a parking space in Boston can also be an option but those price tags can come as a bigger surprise. One space in Boston can start at $30,000 but it can also go as high as $300,000. In 2009, an outdoor, uncovered parking space, one block from the Public Garden, was sold for $300,000. This sale beat the previous record of $250,000 for a spot at 31-33 Commonwealth Ave.

If you are relocating to Boston and are not ready to live car free, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate. We will be happy to either help find properties that include parking or help navigate parking solutions in Boston.

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Cars for the Car-Free in Boston

I love being car free in Boston. I feel healthier from walking all over the city. I also feel like I know my city better than I would have driving through it. I find different routes to take, hidden parks, and secret artwork from local artists. However there are certain times when I miss having a car. When I am showing condos for sale and apartments for rent all over the city to one of my clients, I miss having a car. Fortunately, there are others in similar situations and Boston offers many options where I can have mobile freedom while being car free.

Boston has the MBTA public transportation options of buses and trains (known as the T by locals), as well as taxis. These are great when I need to get from point A to point B, but when I have big errands that require multiple stops all over the city or I want to take a road trip to Maine for lobsters on the pier, I am grateful to be a member of Zipcar.

Zipcar offers hybrid options for borrowing a carZipcar is a car sharing program where members can borrow a car when they need it. Sign up for membership online and order a car from a computer or mobile app. They have hundreds of cars located all over the city in multiple makes, models, and colors. In the mood for sporty european luxury? Reserve an Audi or BMW. Need to do some heavy lifting? Grab an SUV or pickup truck. Zipcar also helps you stay green with hybrid options.

Zipcar offers daily rates for trips out of the city and hourly rates for quick errands across town and back. All of the rates include gas and insurance. It’s convenient, easy to use, and they have accessible customer service always available to help.

Another option is to hire a private driver, this may seem decadent but there are times when the focus needs to be on work and not the road. I don’t have it in my budget to hire a full time private driver but there is a way to hire a temporary driver through Uber. Request a town car from any mobile phone either through app or text and they will send the nearest driver. The service texts once with the estimated arrival time and again when the car arrives. The fare is calculated based on distance or time depending on speed and is charged to the credit card on file.

You don’t need to deal with the hassles of owning a car in the city, but you don’t need to forfeit the conveniences of a car either with services like Zipcar and Uber.

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Car Free in Boston: My First Steps

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When I relocated to Boston from Los Angeles, CA the thought of being car free seemed impossible. The reason was that I was car dependent, so dependent I would drive to the corner mail box. So it took a little time to get my feet used to the walking. Fortunately Boston has such a small footprint, it didn’t take long to adjust. But there were some lessons I learned along the way to being car free in Boston.

Lesson 1 on being car free in Boston: Make sure your comfortable shoes are broken in before you walk around the city for long periods.

It seems obvious, but wearing the wrong footwear for 2 hours will kill you for the next 2 days. My first day in Boston, my boyfriend and I walked all over the city searching for apartments. I thought I was wearing good walking shoes (Jack Parcels have never steered me wrong). Since I hadn’t worn them in months, and even then not that often, the blisters I got were huge.

Lesson 2 on being car free in Boston: Boston is an old city! Many sidewalks in Boston are made from bricks. Heels get caught and ruined in the gaps.

After we finally moved, it was time for the job search. I went out and got great interview outfits complete with cute shoes (high heels? of course!). I was still learning my way around and thought my apartment in Beacon Hill was close to the office where my interview was scheduled. I left later than I wanted to, so I just wore the heels and brought comfy tennis shoes for the walk back. As the saying goes, “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” Nothing makes quite a memorable first impression like walking into job interview with completely destroyed heels.

Lesson 3 on being car free in Boston: You are in the city now, walk fast. If you can’t walk fast, keep to the side so others can pass you. 

This lesson I learned came from my boyfriend who had lived in Boston before. In a city where everyone walks, it is important to realize, you need to speed up, especially when people are getting to and from work. You may not have been car free for long so I’ll put this in driving terms. When you are on a freeway, there are 4 lanes. The right lane is usually for slower speeds and the furthest is the passing lane for the fastest speeds. Keep that in mind when walking; except in the city the sidewalks are not big enough for 4 lanes, so the sidewalk is always the fast lane whether people know it or not.

The toughest part about being car free is learning and getting used to getting around on foot. After a little time, it becomes second nature and you start to realize that there are many reasons to love being car free in Boston.

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