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Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Old May 3rd 2013, 6:50 pm
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Default Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

I'll likely be in the US for 3 to 5 years on a non-immigrant visa and looking at what my options are for having a car.

The first month or two I'll probably rent and take the risk of driving using my foreign license (think technically I'm supposed to get a California license after 10 days). After that, renting is likely not the most economical way of having a car.

Since I'll have a new California license and AFAIK insurance companies don't take your foreign driving history into consideration it could get quite expensive though.

Does anybody have details on leasing versus buying - is leasing a car only a way to finance the car or does it include any maintenance? Is leasing possible with a brand new SSN and essentially no US credit history?

Any recommendations or things to consider?
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Old May 3rd 2013, 7:26 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

We leased for 2 years when first arriving in the US with http://www.intlauto.com

We set it up while still in the UK prior to arriving here, many threads on here about them. After 2 years we had enough credit history to go directly to a dealer and get a much better deal including maintenance for the duration of the lease.
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Old May 3rd 2013, 7:55 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

You can lease from/ through International Autosource, or buy. Look for the other threads about IA, they provide a great service, and many people here on BE have used them, including me.
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Old May 3rd 2013, 8:35 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

It depends on what type of car you want really. Are you happy with used or prefer newer? We bought a used car which is great and I didn't find insurance was an issue, they took into account my previous driving record. I personally wouldn't lease since I just think it is a waste of money, but then I am not fussed about having a 'new' car.
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Old May 3rd 2013, 9:18 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Originally Posted by siliconpete View Post
Since I'll have a new California license and AFAIK insurance companies don't take your foreign driving history into consideration it could get quite expensive though.
Some will, usually the smaller brokers face-to-face than somebody over the phone in a call center.
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Old May 3rd 2013, 9:40 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Originally Posted by GeoffM View Post
Some will, usually the smaller brokers face-to-face than somebody over the phone in a call center.
You can also arrange insurance through International Autosource.
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Old May 4th 2013, 1:02 am
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

My insurance company gave me a generic "has had a license for zillion years" discount even if they couldn't get specific driving records. I had my temporary license at that point so they couldn't even see it in their systems. Whatever, coming from Toronto my insurance costs dropped to 1/3rd!
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Old May 4th 2013, 6:26 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Originally Posted by siliconpete View Post
I'll likely be in the US for 3 to 5 years on a non-immigrant visa and looking at what my options are for having a car.

The first month or two I'll probably rent and take the risk of driving using my foreign license (think technically I'm supposed to get a California license after 10 days). After that, renting is likely not the most economical way of having a car.

Since I'll have a new California license and AFAIK insurance companies don't take your foreign driving history into consideration it could get quite expensive though.

Does anybody have details on leasing versus buying - is leasing a car only a way to finance the car or does it include any maintenance? Is leasing possible with a brand new SSN and essentially no US credit history?

Any recommendations or things to consider?
Go to www.edmunds.com and go to the "tips and advice" tab.
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Old May 6th 2013, 12:20 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

The biggest potential draw back to a lease is that after a fixed number of miles each year, typically 12,000 or 15,000, you get charged a rate per mile, typically 10-12¢ (likely more for premium cars), and that can rack up some hefty charges, which might affect your overall buy v lease decision.

Over a 3-5yr timeframe you might consider buying a mid-market standard spec vehicle (Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Honda) and assume it has negligible value after five years, say $2,000. When your stay ends just drive it to Carmax and take whatever they'll give you for it. No fuss, no mess.

Last edited by Pulaski; May 6th 2013 at 12:25 pm.
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Old May 6th 2013, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Most of the normal leases advertised here on TV don't include the maintenance (or insurance), it's just a way for people to get a lower car payment.

Also keep in mind that the good lease deals and the good purchase deals both require an excellent credit score so you wouldn't get around that particular requirement anyway.
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Old May 6th 2013, 4:51 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Originally Posted by siliconpete View Post
I'll likely be in the US for 3 to 5 years on a non-immigrant visa and looking at what my options are for having a car.

The first month or two I'll probably rent and take the risk of driving using my foreign license (think technically I'm supposed to get a California license after 10 days). After that, renting is likely not the most economical way of having a car.

Since I'll have a new California license and AFAIK insurance companies don't take your foreign driving history into consideration it could get quite expensive though.

Does anybody have details on leasing versus buying - is leasing a car only a way to finance the car or does it include any maintenance? Is leasing possible with a brand new SSN and essentially no US credit history?

Any recommendations or things to consider?
Volkswagon (and, I believe, Audi and BMW) have a deal that works well for new arrivals. There are also a number of threads on here that discuss buying and leasing vehicles.

http://britishexpats.com/forum/showt...ar+buying+tips

is one such.
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Old May 6th 2013, 5:46 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Originally Posted by TimNiceBut View Post
.....Also keep in mind that the good lease deals and the good purchase deals both require an excellent credit score so you wouldn't get around that particular requirement anyway.
Yes he would, through International Autosource, as I mentioned above. I got a 0% deal on my car with zero US credit history through IA.
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Old May 23rd 2013, 3:49 am
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

Just to share my experience of buying last year. I looked at VW which has been mentioned above and given the limited paperwork they were looking for (no credit history established etc) seemed like the way to go. Insurance was the stumbling block. Very few insurers take foreign licences - in CA you don't have to get a licence in 10 days if you are from UK, you do moving from other US states.

I spoke with Geico and another (cannot recall the name) - no other major names would take foreign licences, to cut a long story short for a Golf GTI on lease from VW they quoted me more than the lease per month. That was with a clean UK licence. Anyway, I ended up buying a 10 year old car and insured with Geico. I got a temp licence shortly after and when I told them they said " do you have proof of good driving history in the UK" to which I replied yes, the same stuff I offered to send you when i took out the policy. This reduced my premium by 60% coupled with the temp licence. Insurance is still more than double that in the UK and you can see why on any freeway.

Do study for the multi choice driving test, if you fail the first time the fail level gets higher! the driving part is simple, just remember to bend your neck and look around at all junctions and stop completely at stop streets, and at the back of sidewalks when entering a road. I was asked to reverse 10 yds in a straight line - that was the most difficult part - no 3 point turns or reversing around corners or parallel parking (well why would there be this is LA we all valet!)

Like with anything moving to another country get your local papers/pass/gongs/stickers and jabs asap!

good luck! (on and off the road)
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Old May 23rd 2013, 6:25 am
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

I can provide some very recent experience.

I just moved over on a H1B visa and I just leased a brand new Audi Q5 directly through an Audi dealership - Pacific Audi in Torrance, CA. I secured the car as soon as I arrived, and provided them with my SS number as soon as I got that.

I was going to use IntlAuto but didn't feel comfortable / ready to order the vehicle whilst still in the UK (one of their requirements).

VW and Audi offer a Foreign Professionals Program through all franchised dealers, and I'm sure other brands do. Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover didn't want to know however.

For insurance, I use Geico and they took into account my UK driving history and reduced it significantly - you can get this from the DVLA in the UK. I pay $200 a month for insurance, which for a 25 year old British guy, driving an Audi SUV in LA isn't bad. Most of my American friends in LA pay at least $150.
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Old May 25th 2013, 7:35 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California... renting, leasing or buying

I'm moving to the states in October on my H1B. I've spoken to a few dealers, and the easiest - in terms of paperwork and lack of credit history - are VW and Volvo. They require a 5% deposit, job offer letter and your visa, nothing else. Intl auto have also been very helpful, who I go with will come down to delivery time. IA do have an insurance partner - AIG travelguard I believe. To put that into perspective, they want $99 a month to insure a golf gti, geico on the other hand wanted $219!
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