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Tandem Parking: What Is It and How Do You Manage It?

If both you and your roommate have cars and you’re looking for a new place, you might end up having to share a tandem parking spot—especially if you’re renting an apartment or a townhouse. This type of parking is known for being less than ideal if you and the people you live with have hectic or differing schedules. But it’s a likely scenario if you’re living in an apartment in Chicago or another large city, and with some planning and forethought, you can manage a tandem parking space with minimal issues.

What is tandem parking?

Tandem parking means that while you are assigned two parking spaces, they are configured like a single spot that’s double in size. Technically, you have space for two cars. But practically, the first car to park in the space will be blocked in once the second vehicle parks behind it. This means that if you parked first and you want to drive somewhere, the person who parked behind you will have to pull their car out for you to be able to do so.

Why do some places have tandem parking?

The answer to this one is simple: they save space, allowing for more parking spots, and, when it comes to townhouses, for thinner buildings. Cost is an essential factor in the matter: thing buildings are more economical for developers to construct, which means they will likely be cheaper to buy or rent once they’re on the market. However, critics argue that the dip in prices is minimal on the buyer/renter’s side, and that second spot is too complicated to manage from a logistical point of view, pushing some residents to park on the street. Also, if you live in an area of interest that people are likely to visit, you might end up with a stranger’s car blocking your own.

Tandem parking

How to manage a tandem parking space

While renting a place with a tandem parking spot may seem like a hassle, you shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to rent a beautiful home for an affordable price for this reason alone. Here are a few tips that will help you manage a tandem parking space:

Know each other’s schedules

If you’re going to share a tandem parking spot, you and your roommate should know each other’s schedules as if they were your own. You may have stable, similar working hours and no standing appointments during your free time, which makes it easy to plan when and in what order you will park your cars. However, if you have hectic working hours or clashing schedules, you should set up a shared calendar and establish some parking guidelines for each day of the week. If you usually come home at 5 pm on Tuesdays while your roommate comes back at 6 pm and you have a regular chess class at 8 pm, for example, make sure your roommate is aware of it so they can move their car when you leave. At the same time, if you arrive earlier and leave earlier for work, it’s best to move your car right as your roommate comes home, so you’ll avoid the hassle in the morning.

Communicate changes effectively 

No matter how well you plan your schedule and how clearly and often you communicate it to your roommate, the truth is that spontaneous outings and emergencies are bound to happen. In such scenarios, you’ll want to mention any changes or new appointments as soon as possible so you can plan the tandem parking schedule accordingly. To make sure you report changes as soon as they happen, set up a dedicated chat for the parking space, so if you need to communicate anything, you’ll both check the messages as soon as you can.

Prepare for the unexpected

Finally, set up a contingency plan in case the worst happens: you need to get your car out of its parking spot, your roommate is blocking you, and they’re not home. If you’re living with your significant other, you might consider sharing your cars so you can both take whichever car is available, which would virtually eliminate the core issue tandem parking comes with. But if you can’t or don’t want to share cars with your partner or roommate, you should make sure you have a spare set of car keys placed in a safe, easily accessible location. This way, you and the person you live with will avoid any problems that could arise because of unexpected schedule changes.

All in all, while tandem parking isn’t the most ideal option for your rental, you can manage it with some planning and forethought. When considering whether you should choose a home that comes with tandem parking spaces, you need to take the work that goes into scheduling into account, as well as the issues that could arise with it. At the same time, tandem parking is much easier to manage if you have a good relationship with the person you’re moving in with and trust they have your best interests at heart.

Looking for a new place with the perfect parking space? Browse through thousands of apartments near you and find your ideal home.

Irina Lupa
Irina Lupa
Irina Lupa is a creative writer for several Yardi publications, where they cover real estate market trends and industry news. Their work has been cited in Forbes, Globe St. and CNBC, among others. Irina has an academic background in journalism and media theory. You can connect with Irina via email.

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