What should you consider before buying a car when in School in US?

In Student Life by KumarUpdated : 5 Comments

Buying a Car in US Schools. Should you buy

by Guest author Kristal

The question as to whether to buy a car while you are studying in your undergraduate or graduate student in US schools depends on several factors like city size, convenience of local businesses/grocery/etc, bus system availability, parking availability, distance to university, etc.

City Size

If you are living a bigger city and you like to enjoy life by going out a lot, you may need a car.  But, the reality is, bigger cities have better transportation and you may not need a car…it totally depends on the city.  In small college towns, you would not need a car if everything is situated around campus. But, if the university is away from town, then you may need a car. You may not have proper transportation in smaller cities, so you may need a car. It totally depends on the city. So, it can be very tricky depending on city.

Buying Groceries:

If you are living in a large city, some convenience or grocery stores may be farther away, so a car may have its perks.  You should also consider that larger cities tend to have higher gas prices as well and better public transportation, so that may be a better alternative.  In smaller cities, public transportation might not be an option, so buying groceries and other misc personal items might be a hassle.

Public transportation system:

You should also consider whether the city has a public transportation system.  Generally, students can ride free or for a reduced fare.  If the city in which you live has a rather extensive bus routes, riding the bus may be a cheaper alternative.  Also, check into the hours of operation…you don’t want to get stuck on the other side of the city !

Parking Expenses and Availability:

Parking is also another issue that should be taken into consideration.  Depending on the university, on campus parking may be readily available or extremely difficult to find – you will also probably need to purchase a parking permit for on campus.  If you decide to park on the street, watch for no parking zones, or places that have time limits – these are closely monitored, especially during peak times and by the university.  For overnight parking on the street, most cities will require a city night parking permit.

Distance to University

Another consideration would be how far you study and/or work from where you live.  If it is a long distance, a car might be a good idea. If it is few minutes’ walk, there is no point…it might be extra expenditure to have a car because you would have to pay for parking.

There are a lot of factors that need to be considered, and these are just a few.  It is a decision that needs to be made on a case-to-case basis.  Just remember that a car is a huge investment, and the expenses are never ending, from gas to repairs to registration, etc… If you can afford to have a car, it can be a nice convenience, if not it can be a huge hassle…and at the school level, you are there to study…you have the rest of your life to cruise around town.

Do you have any other things to share that one should consider ?

About Author : Kristal recently graduated from a State University in US with B.A and B.S in Economics, Mathematics, and Spanish Majors. She is going to attend a reputed University for PhD in Economics in fall 2010 with full funding. She will share her undergraduate experiences and PhD admission tips with our readers.

Image Credit : http://www.theaccidentalnegotiator.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/1370665001_8c3329d0af.jpg


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Comments ( 5 )

  1. easwaran

    it is a good suggestion not to buy a car, but the joy of driving and moving around will be lost, if one ponders.
    by the by, before proceeding to buy or rent a car-Zip car, what about the most important document called “DRIVING LICENSE”
    CAN one drive the car in US WITH any other country driving license,
    or one should opt for US DRIVING LICENSE,
    if how to go about getting the DRIVING LICENSE , this i think is the most important guide for the international student, especially Indian student,
    if old car is not the good choice , where to find a good 2nd car
    is there any guide line , if one is willing to spend 5 to 10k us $ for the -used car,(second hand car)
    in India now it is the car dealers of big manufacturers are providing good service with guarantee.
    about the car fitness, engine condition etc.
    is some good guide or agent is available in USA
    Please write in detail, if not at once , may be at latter time
    thanks for your very informative article

      1. Easwaran

        it is very kind of you indeed , in the midst of your busy time, i take this moment to thank you Mr.Kumar
        great of you.
        yous simply

  2. DD

    Good article! I would like to add that another option to consider would be using rental cars. Some rental car service providers have per-hour/day renting options. If groceries are a huge hassle, you can team up with your friends and rent out a car for just an hour or two and then get your groceries done.
    If subway/bus is not an option, consider taking a taxi. If you use it rarely, cabs might turn out to be a cheaper option. (In flow with the other article on tipping: Do not forget to tip the cabbie).

    1. administrator

      Yes, you are right DD. It is called ZipCar. They do rental based on hourly and great way to buy groceries and stuff.

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