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Is Owning A Car in New York City Worth It?

Keeping a car in New York City presents both advantages and challenges. On the one hand, it offers the freedom of shopping without delivery hassles and the ability to leave the city at will, without relying on train schedules. However, owning a car in NYC comes with significant drawbacks and aggravations. Finding parking, dealing with heavy traffic, and complying with street parking regulations can be stressful and time-consuming.

Despite New York City’s excellent public transportation system, 45% of households still own cars. If you’re new to the city, giving up car ownership might be difficult if you’re accustomed to having one. Deciding whether to own a car in NYC involves considering various factors.

Owning a car in New York City offers several advantages, which explains why nearly half of the residents choose to have one. 

  • It provides the freedom to travel at your convenience, allowing for spontaneous weekend getaways and reducing exposure to germs during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • It enables flexibility in commuting, making it easier to drop off children at different locations, run errands, and travel between different parts of the city. 
  • It allows for convenient storage of essential items, especially for those with weekend houses or frequent trips outside the city.
  • The proximity of NYC to various attractive destinations, such as the Hudson Valley, Long Island, the Hamptons, and outdoor areas, makes day and weekend trips easily accessible within a two-hour drive. 
  • It enables spontaneous trips and bookings, offering convenience over renting, which can be stressful for many New Yorkers.


However, owning a car in New York City has its drawbacks.

  • Besides the usual costs of car ownership, such as payments, insurance, and gas, there are additional expenses exclusive to Manhattan, like high parking garage fees, tolls, and parking charges in certain areas. 
  • Street parking is often difficult to find and may lead to hefty fines or towing. You can, however, rent a space in a parking garage. Parking costs vary depending on the location, with Manhattan garages ranging from $200 to $700 per month and slightly cheaper rates in Brooklyn and Queens at $200 to $300 per month.
  • Traffic congestion is another significant con, adding extra travel time when driving to destinations and searching for parking.
  • Gas stations are scarce below 96th Street in Manhattan, necessitating detours to refuel.


While all these sound tricky, if the car is used for frequent weekend getaways, the math of owning a car may make sense compared to renting cars often, owning a car may become more financially viable in multiple-earner households or for those frequently spending on transportation for trips outside the city.


There is an alternative option–Public Transportation.

New York City boasts an excellent public transportation system, making it easy to navigate within and to nearby destinations using subways, buses, cabs, Uber, and Lyft. Additionally, there are reliable train services like Metro North, LIRR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak for travel outside Manhattan, with some destinations having dedicated transportation options like the Hamptons Jitney. City-to-city bus companies such as Megabus offer direct access to major cities along the east coast.

It should be noted that while public transportation is convenient, it has drawbacks, such as inconvenient schedules, delays, and relatively expensive tickets for some services. 

Owning a car can be essential for newcomers, as relying solely on walking might be impractical in such a large city. However, the high cost of living in NYC can make car ownership financially challenging. Nevertheless, alternative transportation options are available for those who choose not to own a car.


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