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Parking in San Francisco can be expensive and frustrating, especially if you're new to the city. But luckily for you, I've found that there are many ways to avoid paying high parking rates.

Finding cheap parking in San Francisco can be a challenge, but there are a few tricks you can use to make your search a little easier. 

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/HNAZV9AnL3M 

Learn the local rules so you don’t get fined

Pay attention to the city's parking rules, which are listed on the SFMTA website. They'll help you know exactly where and when you can park without fear of getting fined, and they'll help you avoid the hefty fines that come with violating those rules.

You'll also want to check out the city's meter map, which tells you where all the meters are located so you can plan your route based on where there are spots available for longer periods of time, and where the most affordable parking spot in your location is.

Monthly parking is more affordable than hourly

For many people, there is no cheaper way to park than to pay your monthly rent to include a parking spot in your building (if you can). This way, you avoid paying for an additional space and have the convenience of knowing exactly where your car will be when you get home.

If none of these options work for you, consider renting out a parking spot in your preferred location online. If this sounds like something that might interest you, make sure that whatever vehicle you are parking in your designated spot doesn't exceed its capacity. Check the dimensions of your chosen spot before you sign up to rent it out, so you don't find that your vehicle won't fit in it.

You can also rent out spots in residential areas where regular street parking isn't available; however these tend to be in less convenient locations and possibly won't be near your place of work. It's always worth checking parking spots for rent in San Francisco available near you and companies that offer good rates.

Many buildings with underground parking allow tenants to offer their spaces for rent online. This can be a lucrative option for tenants who rarely use their cars; check with your landlord before starting this arrangement though.

Consider park and ride services

If you're looking to save on parking in San Francisco, consider park and ride. Park outside of the city and take a bus to your destination. The buses are clean, reliable and convenient. You can find schedules and routes online, and it's often very cheap or even free to park at the bus station.

That's right, you can park outside of the city and take a bus or shuttle to your destination. Much less stressful than driving around for hours trying to find somewhere to park, let alone somewhere affordable.

This is a great option if the place you want to go to is easily accessible by San Francisco’s public transport.

There are tons of options if you look hard enough

The best option depends on your needs and how much time you want to spend driving around.

The city of San Francisco has a lot of cheap parking garages, but they’re usually pretty far away from where you are going. You can find super cheap street parking or parking lots that charge only $10 or so per day. It depends on what kind of hassle you want to go through when finding cheap parking in San Francisco.

Parking in San Francisco is not easy, but it can be affordable if you know where to look. The key is to think outside of the box and be creative about how you find parking spots—your wallet will thank you!

FAQs

How much does parking cost in San Francisco?

Parking in San Francisco is notoriously expensive, whether you choose to park in a garage or on the street (if you can even find a spot on the street!).

For both types of parking, the rates vary by location, so that's the first thing to look at when figuring out how much you'll pay per hour.

For example, let's say we want to park at Union Square. Garages around here vary from $2.50 to $8 an hour roughly, but that’s not all.

Many garages change their rates depending on the time of day. For example, you might find it costs less from 9am until noon than it does from noon through to 6pm - so plan your days carefully!

What time is parking cheapest?

San Francisco parking is pretty expensive. If you're looking for the cheapest time to park in San Francisco, we'd recommend going early in the morning (before 9am) or late at night (after 6pm).

Parking meters operate from 9-6 on Monday-Saturday, so you can park in metered areas for free outside of these times.

Is there anywhere I can park for free in San Francisco?

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn't mean you have to pay for parking.

If you're planning a visit to San Francisco and want to spend some time exploring the city's most famous sights, we've got some good news for you: there are plenty of places where you can park for free.

To help you make the most of your trip, we've compiled a list of our favorite spots where you can park without spending a dime.

The only problem is that they are often full—so make sure you get there early!

As noted above, you can park on metered streets for free after 6pm or before 9am, which is perfect if you’re going out in the evening or for an early morning run!

You can park for free at the Langdon Court Lot for as long as you like, and it’s right next to the Golden Gate Bridge. Otherwise, options are pretty limited.