NerdWallet looked into major cities across the country to determine the worst places for parking in the U.S., measuring cost and motor vehicle theft. To the surprise of absolutely nobody living here, Chicago came in dead last.

Following 2009’s controversial privatization of city meters, parking in Chicago costs an average of $35 a day and $289 per month. (And if you get a ticket, you only have seven days to contest the citation). Finally, Chicago has 33.4% more motor vehicle thefts per capita than the national average. So, not good.

To make parking less of a nightmare in the city, ParkWhiz – the Chicago-based app that allows drivers to book parking spaces via mobile – has analyzed its data and come up with five ways to significantly improve the Windy City parking experience.

  • According to the International Parking Institute, it takes an average of 10-15 minutes to find a street parking spot, contributing to 30% of all city traffic. Also, on ParkWhiz – which connects drivers to private spots – Chicagoans paid $12.12 for three hours of parking as opposed to $19.50 on Loop meters. If you’re going to be more than 3 hours, it’s more affordable AND efficient to go straight to a lot.
  • ParkWhiz’s data reveals Friday to be the most common day to park in the city, followed by Saturday. If you’re driving on these two days, adjust accordingly.
  • Due to volume, it’s harder to park between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. than it is before 7 a.m. Also, 26% of daily parking happens between the hours of 4 – 7 p.m., with commuters heading to new parts of the city and people coming into town. This typically results in the heaviest congestion of the day. If you want the smoothest drive, arrive early and leave early.
  • ParkWhiz’s data showed that zip codes supporting Wilmete, Northbrook, or Highland Park had the most commuters. If you live in one of these towns, there’s a good chance that your neighbors are commuting, too. Sharing the cost of parking is the best way to cut down on it.
  • Also, folks living in 60618 and 60657 – Lincoln Park and just west – need parking more than any other Chicagoland resident. If you’re visiting someone on those neighborhoods, take a cab, ride public transportation, or head straight to a lot.

You can download the ParkWhiz app for iPhones here and Android here.

(Image via Wiki Commons).