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Should You Purchase a Vehicle While Living Abroad?

When you travel to another country on a long-term basis, transportation is going to be a big concern. You’ll have to decide whether to rely on public transportation the entire time or resort to renting or purchasing your own private vehicle. If you’re simply going on a vacation, then renting a vehicle is likely the best solution. However, if you’re retiring or working in another country for an extended amount of time, then it might be wise to purchase your own vehicle instead.  

What Will You Be Doing Abroad?

There are many perks to purchasing your own vehicle in another country. For one thing, you’ll get a chance to explore more of the towns and cities that you are in. And if you make friends or develop relationships with any of the locals, you’ll be able to drive directly to their residence without having to walk or ride a bicycle to get there. This is a great way to make yourself feel like you’re a resident yourself rather than a tourist.

Therefore, look at your plans and consider what you’ll be doing while living abroad. Are going there to travel for an extended time or is it just for work? Do you plan on sightseeing or could you care less about the sights? The amount of time you plan on spending on the road in the foreign country should be an indicator as to whether you need to purchase a vehicle or not. This applies to whether you’re staying there short-term or long-term.

What does long-term really mean? Well, in terms of purchasing a vehicle, you should plan to stay in the country for at least one year or more. Also, there is no need to purchase a new vehicle either. A used vehicle will be just fine if you purchase it from a reputable dealership. If you can find a certified pre-owned or something used with a warranty, that is even better. This will ensure that your vehicle does not break down shortly after you purchase it.  

If you’re going to stay short-term but you still want to travel around the local area, then it might be okay to purchase a vehicle under certain circumstances. For instance, if you can find a really good deal on a vehicle which functions properly, you can purchase it just for the time you are there. When you’re ready to leave that location, you can resell the vehicle to another person. Perhaps you could resell it to another foreigner like yourself. You won’t necessarily make money on the deal, but you can at least save money if you can make back most of the original purchase cost.

Paying for the Vehicle

The biggest obstacle to purchasing a vehicle anywhere are the payment and financing aspects of it. Some countries don’t offer auto financing options, especially the underdeveloped ones. Before you retire or go to live abroad somewhere, make sure you plan out ahead of time how you’re going to pay for a vehicle if it is your intention to purchase one.

If there are no financing options, you might want to think about getting a personal loan in your native country and then using those funds to purchase a car outright somewhere else. There might be extra fees and fluctuations between the currency exchange rates, but it is an option if you don’t have the cash yourself to purchase a vehicle outright. However, if the country does have auto financing options, use an auto payment calculator to determine how much your monthly payments are going to be.

When you visit the website to conduct the calculation, you just enter the purchase price, the payment frequency (e.g. monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-weekly), down payment amount, trade-in value, loan interest rate, and the term of the loan in months. If there are a sales tax and other title and registration fees for this location, you can enter those into the calculator too. Then you will be presented with your estimated monthly payment amount.


Overall, you need to have a good idea of how long you’re going to be living abroad. This is the best way to decide whether the terms of your car loan are a worthy investment or not. You obviously don’t want to take out a 5-year car loan if you’re only going to be living abroad for one year. If you’re not sure how long you’ll be living abroad, then simply lease your vehicle for 3 or 6 months. That way, you don’t make any big financial commitments until you are sure of what your situation is going to be.

If it turns out there is no certainty over what is going to happen, then continue leasing or renting a vehicle. A car purchase abroad should only be reserved when you know you’ll be staying in that location for a long time.

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