What is Tandem Parking? Rental Definition and Examples

With many cities experiencing large population increases, there is less and less room to park, whether you live in an apartment or a single-family home. These cities were already limited in space, but still have to figure out how to build housing – and parking lots – in cramped places.

This is where tandem parking comes to the rescue. There are often long stretches of open space wide enough for a car to park, but the entire stretch is only accessible from one point. Rather than wasting the space on something else, you can always use these longer stretches of space to park – it just takes a bit of coordination.

What is tandem parking?

Tandem parking is when two people share two parking spaces, one space in front of the other. This means someone parks behind you (or vice versa) and one car must move into the square first, then the second one lines up behind it.

parking platform

Where are the tandem parking spaces usually located?

Tandem spaces are found in driveways, parking lots, and parking garages – really, anywhere you might find a normal parking space. They are designed to save space or make better use of space in tight spaces, so some people even have a place for a tandem in their private garages.

When there is a place with lots of buildings, people and cars, but not much room, it is quite common to find tandem parking. Think big, crowded cities that lack space, like New York and San Francisco. These towns often have lots of apartment buildings instead of single-family homes, and since there isn’t much room, you’ll find tandem parking spots anywhere there’s a thin strip of concrete long enough to accommodate two cars.

Advantages and disadvantages of a tandem parking space

Just like most other things have their pros and cons, tandem parking has both pros and cons. It’s a smart setup to create two parking spaces, but it can create challenges for those who use them.


Tandem parking allows two cars to park in an area where normally only one could. This means twice as many cars can park and more residents can keep their cars nearby, rather than having to park farther from home or get rid of their vehicles altogether.

You can also save money if you pay for a tandem parking space rather than a normal space. The owners know it’s a bit tricky to use tandem parking and they can offer a parking discount on your spot if you choose to share with someone else.

The inconvenients

Tandem parking can cause problems for one or both parties because in order for one person to exit the space, the other must first leave the space. In some cases, you might knock on your neighbor’s door asking him to move his car when you need to leave, or he might knock on yours.

Worst case scenario, you may have someone parked behind you and you can’t reach them to move their car, leaving you stranded. You can certainly avoid this with good communication, but it can still happen and cause you to lose access to your vehicle until the car parked behind you moves.

Calendar and parking times

How to handle tandem parking

Having two vehicles using the same spot can mean you have to maneuver places and change between the first car and the second frequently. But, sharing a space in tandem with someone is totally doable, it just means you’ll have to plan well with the person you’re sharing with.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is the most important part of sharing a tandem parking spot with anyone, whether it’s a neighbor or a loved one you live with. You can make tandem parking work with anyone as long as you talk to each other about work schedules, events you plan to attend, and vacations you take.

To make things easier, you might consider having a shared calendar where you can view everyone’s schedules, standing appointments, and scheduled vacation days.

Coordinate working hours

If you have similar working hours as the person you’re sharing a tandem parking spot with, that’s usually pretty easy to manage, since you’ll both be leaving and arriving around the same time. However, if you have different schedules, you’ll want to coordinate the schedules to make sure each of you can come in and out when needed.

If you leave for work earlier than your parking buddy, you’ll want to make sure you park behind him at night so you can leave in the morning without a problem. Or, the opposite scenario could happen and they leave earlier than you do, so you’ll want to park first and have them come behind you at night so they don’t wake you up in the morning to get your car out of the way .

Plan your vacation

If you or your neighbor are planning to take a vacation at some point, make sure the person on vacation parks their vehicle there first, so the non-vacationer can park behind them and drive in and out of the place if needed. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in your parking spot while someone’s on vacation and can’t move their car for you.

Share a key

Tandem parking works best with someone you know and trust to share your keys with. That way, if someone needs to leave but you block them, they can get your car out of the front space, then get their car out and move yours into the back space. It’s still a bit of a hassle, but it means your roommate doesn’t have to bother you early in the morning or late at night, and you can move your roommate’s car when you need to leave.

You can either give yourself spare keys or just leave your keys somewhere accessible, like on the kitchen counter or on a small table by the front door.

Off-street parking is always an option.

Have a backup plan

Even the best coordination and communication can fail you when renting a unit with tandem parking. If you find yourself at a dead end and can’t get your car out of the driveway or parking lot because someone is parking behind you, you’ll want to have a backup plan in place. This may mean paying for carpooling, sharing cars with a friend, riding a bike, taking the bus, or even renting a car for the day if you need to travel far.

If you reach a point where this becomes too much of a problem and you find that your vehicle is frequently blocked by the other car, you may want to speak with your landlord, consider paying for your own space, or using parking in the street. Since the streets are technically owned by the city, make sure local ordinances allow overnight parking on the street so you don’t get a ticket.

Tandem parking is sharing

No matter who you share with, tandem parking can work! It’s sometimes complicated, but depending on where you live, it’s a better option than parking on the street or selling your car and relying on public transport. If you don’t want to deal with tandem parking, that’s okay – you can usually find a spot with regular parking, it may cost you more or be harder to find if you live in a big, crowded city.

Either way, don’t be afraid of tandem parking, especially if you’re sharing a spot with someone you already know. Having access to a parking space in many areas is always a huge convenience. You will only have to decide if it is worth sharing a place and coordinating with someone else.

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