Good Morning, Israel: Tel Aviv and the Parking Lot

Concern over finding decent parking brought the family weekend to a premature end. That’s life in Tel Aviv

By Dov Eilon | | Topics: Tel Aviv
Walking the dog was nice. But finding parking in Tel Aviv isn't.
Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Boker Tov, dear reader!

The weekend was over as quickly as it started, and already my colleagues and I find ourselves back at the editorial offices in Jerusalem, ready to start a new week with you.

At home, the weekend is all about family. This is especially true now with our son living so close by in Tel Aviv with his girlfriend. Most weekends, they come to us with their dog, who has also become part of the family. So we had a full house again this Friday evening. 

It rained almost all day on Shabbat, but there was a short break allowing us to take the dog for a short walk in the nearby park. Needless to say, he was overjoyed that we were all out with him. 

At almost every corner in the park there is a box with plastic bags with which you can pick up your dog’s mess and then dispose of it properly. I have to say that I am impressed with the responsibility most dog owners in Israel demonstrate. And not just in Modi’in, also in Tel Aviv, which is considered one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world. I can’t remember the last time I stepped in dog poop. I think it was in Germany, but I don’t want to say a bad word about German dog owners.


Parking in Tel Aviv? Don’t even try

The weekend together with the whole family suddenly came to an end around 2 pm. “We have to go,” said my son, somewhat stressed. In the past, he often stayed until shortly before the end of the Shabbat. “Otherwise we won’t get a parking space,” he explained after noticing that I was disappointed. 

Unfortunately, he is right. If you live in Tel Aviv, parking is an absolute priority. 

Around noon, you still have a chance of catching a parking space near the apartment. Later in the afternoon, all the other Tel Avivians are returning from their Shabbat visits to family. 

If you happen to be in Tel Aviv during the morning hours on a Shabbat, take a look around the narrow streets in the vicinity of Dizengoff Square. An abundance of parking spaces will be available. By the evening, everything will be full again. And it’s first-come, first-serve. 

There are even special WhatsApp groups in which neighbors inform one another about open parking spaces. Yes, the parking shortage is severe in Tel Aviv, where during the week, having a private car serves but one purpose: to occupy a parking space. Many will only dare drive their car anywhere on the weekend, and then quickly return before the end of Shabbat to reclaim their space.

The city has tried to help. There are even some municipal car parks where residents who have a special sticker can park for free. Parking in the residential streets is of course free for locals. But what does that help if there are no free spaces? 

The simple reality is that there are far too many cars. And that has made parking space nearly as valuable a commodity as housing. For a whopping 400,000 shekels ($115,000), you can buy your own private parking space (yes, a single parking space), which can then be rented out for as much as 1,000 shekels ($287) a month. Absolute madness.

Our son was back home in Tel Aviv before 3 pm. He was able to get a good parking space not far from the apartment, as he proudly told me. Now he can begin the new week with peace of mind.


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