Let’s Talk about Parking.
Guys, I can’t believe I’ve spent nine months writing this blog and haven’t done any posts about parking! Major oversight. Fixing that right now. Today is rental parking day, all day. Tasty crunchy numbers that you’ve come to know and love, but this time for your car. I’m excited. But first…
What We Will NOT Be Doing Because CNT Does It Better…
First of all, if you’re looking to assess the total cost of transportation in Chicago, this is not the place. We’re talking about parking here. However, the fabulous Center for Neighborhood Technology has two apps that will serve you nicely. Abogo will tell you, by location, how much you can expect to spend per month on transportation. And yes, it’s location-sensitive for you people on smartphones. There’s also the Housing + Transport Affordability Index, which allows you to compare neighborhoods by the full combination of home prices and transit costs.
If you’re looking for the cost of getting from place to place, those guys are doing an excellent job of spitting out the numbers, and they’re getting grant money to do it, so more power (and less carbon) to them. However, they don’t talk about what happens when you’re done driving about and have to plonk your car down, preferably in a place where the city’s parking elves can’t trim it with orange.
So You Want to Rent a Parking Spot.
The phrase “EZ street parking” or something similar shows up in a whole lot of apartment ads. You can always try to park on the street, but this is Chicago. We’ve got meters, curb cuts, residential parking zones, alleys, driveways, disabled parking zones and snow routes to consider, not to mention our supercritical mass of hydrants that seem to multiply at an exponential rate. On many streets, tiny puddles of shattered glass bear silent witness to the car windows that have gone before you. I don’t blame you for wanting to stow your precious vehicle somewhere off of the streets.
The first question, of course, is how much you’re going to pay for parking at your apartment. Therefore, I have taken a glance through the MLS to see what the rates have been for off-street rental parking in seven different neighborhoods over the past year. I counted the printed rent rates for any parking spaces listed as available with apartments that successfully rented. I also took a quick average of the rents paid for the apartments so that I could get a rough ratio of what it costs to house people as compared with their cars.
|Average Parking Rent||Parking Rent Range||Avg Parking as percentage|
of Average Rent
|East Rogers Park|
|Wicker Park & Bucktown|
|Near North Side|
I chose three neighborhoods that are, in my opinion, underserved by the CTA – Albany Park, East Rogers Park and Hyde Park. All three have bus service but very little train service. I also chose Lakeview and Wicker Park/Bucktown, two popular but lower-density neighborhoods with good CTA service. Finally I also chose two luxury, high-density neighborhoods with lots of high rises and 3rd party garages, but not a lot of street parking.
As you can see, pretty much across the board you can expect to pay an additional 5-8% of your rent for uncovered parking spaces, and 7-9% of your rent for garage parking. It’s remarkably consistent across all of the neighborhoods I studied. Personally I went into this thinking that parking prices were pretty arbitrary, but it looks like there’s a method to it.
So if you want to avoid street parking, be ready to up your housing budget by 7-9%.
But Can You Even Get One?
Parking prices are lovely to know, but what sort of availability are we looking at? Do you have a one in ten shot at finding an apartment with parking, or is it pretty much guaranteed? And what if you can’t increase your rental budget by another 7-9%? Well, if you’re working with a Realtor to find an apartment in these neighborhoods, chances are pretty good that you’ll find an apartment with parking. However, chances of finding one with free parking vary more widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. Check it out.
|Neighborhood||Units with free garage Parking||Units with any free parking||Units with any assigned parking at all|
|East Rogers Park||10%||27%||53%|
|Wicker Park & Bucktown||41%||62%||81%|
|Near North Side||19%||20%||83%|
Once again we’ve got those same seven neighborhoods, and for the sake of comparison I’ve even included them in the same order. I was surprised to see that in all but one of the neighborhoods I studied, over half of the apartments rented this year had some sort of parking available. Not a lot of parking for rent in Hyde Park, but given the demographic makeup and more insular nature of the neighborhood, plus an abundance of university parking lots, I don’t find that too surprising.
What I did find interesting is the breakdown of free parking vs. paid parking. The most expensive neighborhood, Near North (including tony districts like Streeterville, River North and the Gold Coast) offered nearly universal parking availability, but the lowest percentage of free parking out of the seven districts. In other words, if you’re living around there you’re going to have to pony up extra for parking. Meanwhile, South Loop has even greater parking coverage with 94% of the rented units offering at least one parking space, but almost half of them were free garage spots.
Most impressive was the showing put forward by Wicker Park & Bucktown, two areas that always make me pull my hair out trying to find parking when I’m down there for a night out. With 81% of the apartments over the past year offering some sort of parking and 62% of them offering free parking, this area offered what might be the best scenario for renters with cars. (Of course, finding an apartment in these two trendy neighborhoods is a challenge, but if you survive the Thunderdome of Wicker Park apartment hunting at least your car will be safe, right?)
What Did I Forget?
Hopefully that answers some of your questions about parking. If you want me to crunch the numbers for your neighborhood just drop me a comment or use the contact form.