It might take time to go around looking at used cars. If you buy it from a used car lot, you will spend more money. If you buy it from an individual, you will have to call, schedule a meeting, and get to the person’s home to see the car. This might be difficult if you don’t have a car to begin with. Also, you should have the used car inspected by an auto mechanic, which also takes time and money.
With the used car, you will have to fix it if it breaks down. The cheaper the car, the more the risk of failure. Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas have a good reputation for long life but you never know. A car with over 200k miles is at risk of serious problems. A rental car agency will provide some type of roadside assistance if you run into a problem. If you break down in the middle of nowhere in a used car, it could be a real problem. You might have to have the car towed a long distance.
Also, when you try to sell the used car, you’ll probably have to sell it to a used car lot since you will not have time to sell it to an individual. The price you get will be rather low.
So you might save money with the used car if you get lucky but there is a risk that it could cost more with repairs and there may also be additional time and aggravation.
Other options are flying or taking a train or bus. Unfortunately, train travel is less convenient in the US than Europe and it is not so cheap. And long bus trips are not very comfortable. You can sometimes get cheap plane tickets, especially if you buy them early. Then again, sometimes you can get last minute deals as well.
By the way, what places are you planning to visit. Do you want to see big cities or the big open country?
In big cities like New York City, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, you could get by without a car because there is public transportation around the city. In New York, where I grew up and spent most of my life, you are better off without a car. The subway (metro) is more convenient. Perhaps you could rent for part of the trip and get by with planes and public transport the rest of the time while visiting cities.
Your costs for buying a used car, buying mandatory insurance and paying other miscellaneous fees minus the money you’ll recoup when you sell the car are comparable to the cost of renting. Obtaining the car will be relatively easy for you but selling it will probably be more difficult. What happens if you have to leave the US before you get a buyer? All things considered, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle to try to buy and sell in such a short time. My recommendation is for you to concentrate on “enjoying the view” and not on business matters.
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2. selling when done – the car market has almost dried up here recently. you may be able to buy one cheap (and hope it runs right) but finding a buyer at the end will be tricky.
3. registration – usually need a CA drivers license (at least) to register a vehicle.Â
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