Where parking is cheaper than rent

This week, the Lyft-SF battle rages on, Uber amps up its micromobility integrations, and peak scooter season arrives in Germany, but first…

1 Crazy Tip for Paying Less Rent: Become a Car

It’s a story as old as combustion engines. A city seeking to fund public services and reduce traffic votes to raise the price of parking—effectively imposing an indirect tax on vehicle ownership—and before you can say “car pool lane,” all mother-loving hell breaks loose.

This is the situation playing out right now in Wellington, New Zealand, where motorists are up in arms about a 35% increase in the price of resident parking permits, claiming the fee is so onerous that it is actually against the law.

Kiwi legalities aside, the decision to charge more for parking is hardly unfair, as our colleague, Wellington native Oliver Bruce, explained last week in an interview:

“We currently don’t price our car parking appropriate to the land use… You can get a car parking spot through the residents’ parking [program] for $1.37 a week, for something that’s 10 square meters. A room to rent anywhere in Wellington is $240 a week for exactly the same thing. That’s a 175x difference.”

Oliver’s point about land use got us thinking. Inch for inch, where does the price of parking accurately reflect the cost of housing?

The NYT has calculated the average monthly rent per square foot in the ten most expensive cities worldwide. Using data from ParkMe, we can measure parking prices per square foot in nine of the same metropolitan areas. (ParkMe did not have sufficient data on the tenth city on the list, Singapore.)

For comparability, we searched ParkMe’s listings for the monthly prices at the five parking lots and structures closest to City Hall in each city, then averaged those prices and calculated the cost per square foot, assuming the typical parking spot is 130 square feet. (Hat tip to City Observatory for inspiring this methodology.)

What we found was depressing, if not exactly surprising. (Key findings below, data visualization above.)

  • Asphalt is the cheapest form of real estate. In terms of space allocated, renting a house is more expensive than parking a car in seven out of the nine cities.

  • Maybe your landlord will drop your rent by a fifth if you register as motor vehicle. Across the board, the average price per square foot of renting was 18% higher than parking ($4.55 versus $3.75).

  • San Francisco leads in livability for… automobiles. SF has the widest gap, with a square foot of housing ($4.75) going for almost twice as much as the same amount of parking ($2.61).

  • Try the subway instead. The only city on the list where parking is significantly more expensive than renting is New York. On average, drivers in the Big Apple pay a 27% premium for space to store their metal boxes.

  • The price is (sometimes) right. Hong Kong comes the closest to pricing parking “correctly” relative to the cost of living. There, the average rental goes for $4.67 a square foot compared to $4.77 for a parking spot, a difference of 2% more for car storage.

Lastly, it’s important to note that, by limiting our search to off-street parking in the downtown core, near City Hall, our methodology almost certainly overestimates the price of parking. Many of these cities offer cheaper or even free parking, either on-street or in less dense areas.

All of which is to say that parking is priced unreasonably low compared to renting in many major cities—and if anything these numbers are probably too generous to cars.

How do parking and renting prices compare in your city? Tell us on Twitter.

Introducing July Special ☀️

July is here, which means Micromobility Europe is just three short months away.

To celebrate, all month long, conference tickets are 33% off the General Admission price.

We’re bringing the sharpest minds in shared, electric, and lightweight mobility together in Berlin on October 1 for a full day of networking, workshops, and talks. Now is your chance to attend for less.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Micromobility Europe? Contact us.


As peak scooter-sharing season ramps up, Oliver Bruce and Horace Dediu talk unit economics, core product, and regulatory constraints—and why micromobility won’t be a winner-take-all market—in a wide-ranging new episode of the podcast.

Listen here.

What You Need to Know This Week

  • The Copenhagenize Index, a biennial ranking of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, is out. All but five of the top 20 cities this year are in Europe. None are in the U.S. or China. | Wired

  • … but with 50 miles of new bikeways coming by the end of 2019, maybe Houston will make the list next time. | Houston Chronicle

  • Capital Bikeshare, DC’s station-based bike program, is now integrated into Lyft’s app. The system is run by Motivate, which Lyft acquired last year. | Washingtonian

  • In the face of an Autobahn-melting heatwave, Germans are turning to newly legalized dockless e-scooters as a sweat-free alternative to biking. | Bloomberg

  • Next up in the evolution of form factors, tandem scooters? | Electrek

  • Transit agencies all over the world are subsidizing ride-hailing services to supplement struggling public transportation systems. So far the results have been mixed. | Wired

  • A lawyer explains why the existing legal structures for short-term scooter rentals fall short. | CityLab

  • Starting this week, the Uber app will now show Jump bikes and scooters and Lime scooters for rent on its main map in Atlanta and San Diego. | CNN

  • Lime has made scooter reservations available in the U.S., soon to be followed by the rest of the world. | Engadget

  • In Madison, Wisconsin, the local Bcycle bike-share program has become the first citywide system in the U.S. to switch its fleet entirely to pedal-assist models. | FastCo

  • San Diego enacted new scooter-sharing regulations this week, including lowering speed limits in high-traffic areas, mandating corrals for docking, and placing new permitting and per-device fees on operators. | KGTV

  • Brompton, maker of the classic British folding bike, will release its first electric model in the U.S. this week. A reviewer tests it out. | The Verge

  • Nearly a thousand e-bikes are sitting idle in a warehouse as Lyft and San Francisco do battle in court. | SF Chronicle

  • With over 21,000 shared electric vehicles on the street, Madrid has emerged as a global hub for new mobility. | Cinco Días

  • The number of American taxi drivers has tripled in a decade. | QZ

  • According to a new op-ed in the NYT, electric scooters are the way to see Europe this summer. | NYT

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