Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Car buying

We did two stints of living in the UK without a car, and managed 15 months here in Canberra the first time around without one. It wasn't always totally convenient, but between public transport, occasional car rentals, and a lot of walking, we managed without a car for more than 8 years in total.

When we moved to Kansas City, on the other hand, pretty much the first thing we did was head to a Toyota dealership. We hadn't been in the Midwest more than a day before we had confirmed our suspicion that living car-free wasn't going to be an option, at least where we were, and we were the proud owners of a new Prius before our first week in Kansas was out. We thought about trying to ship it down here along with the rest of our stuff, but that also turned out to be a non-starter, so we sold it to my sister M., and drove to Boston to deliver it before heading down here.

It's hard to go back to being carless, even after only two years, and we started looking into the possibility of buying a car not long after we returned to Canberra. Having been thoroughly satisfied with our Prius, we looked into buying one here, and then we found out two things:

1. Buying a Prius in Australia costs more than buying one in the US. A lot more.
2. Buying anything that involves signing a contract is slightly more complicated when you're not a citizen of the country where you're living.

Since the only place I've ever bought a car before now is the US, I had no idea that the fact that we're in Australia on a visa would be a factor in buying a car. As we discovered, you can't sign a contract - such as a lease or a loan - for a period longer than the term of your visa. And trying to cram the cost of a normally five-year contract into the term of the visas we're currently on is definitely out of the question, financially speaking. So, for the time being, until our visa status changes or we find a cheap, reliable option, we're back to being carless. One of the reasons I'm so happy to have at least one transportation option that takes my feet off the ground.


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