Should You Have A Car In NYC?

Since New York City is famous for its public transportation, you may be shocked to know that 45% of households in NYC own a car. But the question is, is it right for you? Today we’ll explore the pros and cons of having a car in the city, as well as some alternative options for those who opt out of owning one.

A salesperson handing over car keys to a customer

Pros of Owning A Car

First, let’s take a look at why almost half of New Yorkers choose to own a car. By owning your own vehicle, you essentially have the freedom to pick up and go whenever you want. This can make last minute weekend trips much easier, as you don’t have to go through the hassle of renting a vehicle or limiting yourself to only places accessible via public transportation. Especially now with the spread of Covid-19, having your own car is very appealing both in terms of reducing the amount of germs you come into and with the ability to get out of the city even for just a drive upstate for the day.

Another pro about owning a car? You will have the freedom to use it at your own disposal. Let’s say, for example, you live Downtown in your Glenwood home but your children attend school on the Upper East Side (a common occurrence in NYC). With your own car, you have the flexibility to drive your children uptown for drop-off, drive to a different part of the city to work or run errands, and then leave whenever you need to be back on the UES in time for pick up, before heading back downtown. Now, imagine if you were to take all those trips via cab or Uber…the bills would certainly add up!

Finally, owning a car allows you to be able to store things in it. If you have a weekend house out East or Upstate, you’ll be able to keep a few bags of the things you regularly need for your trip actually in the car, rather than packing them up again every single weekend and hauling them on a bus or train. Things that would be convenient to keep in your car include: rain gear (umbrellas, boots, and rain jackets for everyone in your family), a stroller (so you have it for any stops you make), and of course a bag dedicated to water bottles and non-perishable healthy snacks for when people start feeling peckish. In addition, many Glenwood buildings have access to parking garages, which can make parking simple and convenient!

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Taxis on NYC roads

Cons of Owning a Car

The major con of owning a car in NYC comes down to one thing: the expense. Along with having the monthly expenses that anyone who has a car encounters (think: car payments, insurance, and gas), you also have added expenses of owning a car exclusively in Manhattan (think: parking garage payments, tolls every time you drive out or back into the city, and parking whenever you get to the place you’re driving to!)

Even if you’re lucky enough to find street parking (meaning, you finagled a way to avoid the parking fees in a garage), many streets in Manhattan still charge for parking, or you’ll find yourself with a hefty ticket. And even if you find a street that does not, in fact, charge for parking, you need to be super vigilant about keeping an eye on when the car needs to be moved for alternate side of the street parking, which could result in your beautiful little auto being towed (another huge inconvenience and expense.)

Besides the monetary con of owning a car in the city, there’s the other huge con of traffic. While traffic is annoying no matter how you’re getting around above ground (be it cab, Uber, or bus), at least with those forms of transportation you can hop out directly at your destination. With a car, you’re still stuck in awful traffic, plus you need to drive around for additional time looking for parking whenever you reach your destination…this adds in quite a bit of time. And you know what they say, time is your most valuable asset. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back!

Woman uber driver holding open the Uber phone ap

Alternatives To Owning A Car In NYC

We’re lucky enough to have an amazing public transportation system in NYC, which New Yorkers know can get them from point A to point B (most of the time) quicker than a car can, anyway! Not to mention additional options such as yellow cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts. (You can check out our NYC taxi guide for the full scoop on navigating those options!)

And if you’re looking for ways to get around outside of the city limits of NYC, consider our fantastic train system–including Metro North, LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak trains. These can get you to destinations out of Manhattan, and then you can easily call a cab or Uber when you get to that station to take you the remainder of your trip. Some destinations even have their own dedicated transportation, such as the Hamptons Jitney.

Along those same lines are buses, both from local transit authorities and city-to-city bus companies such as Megabus. Leaving daily from Port Authority (which is so close to residents living at Crystal Green) and other select areas in Manhattan, buses will provide direct access to major cities and hubs all along the east coast (or country, for that matter!)

Finally, don’t discount the flexibility that renting a car will give you. Whether you need a ZipCar for the afternoon to pick up a bulky piece of furniture at Ikea in Brooklyn, or a car for the entire weekend to go camping upstate, there’s plenty of rental car spots, such as Enterprise, that cater to this. A tip: don’t wait until the last minute to try and rent a car for in Manhattan to use for the weekend. Frequently they are fully booked well in advance.

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