Moving to the US and need a car

In about a month I will be moving to the US to work for our Denver office the next two years. This is an exciting opportunity and can hardly wait. I have been advising clients on tax issues of cross-border moves of employees, so many things are not strange to me. However, typically practical issues are new to me, one of which is getting a car.

Unfortunately I cannot bring my current company car to the US, so I have to find an alternative solution. I have no credit history in the US and I understand that my Dutch (very good) credit history is worthless in the US. I have very little savings to buy a car instantly.

With all the people here, I am sure there are some that can help me prepare myself:

[ul]
[li]My monthly budget (including gas and insurance) is approximately USD 900
[/li][li]I can make a down payment of USD 5,000 - USD 10,000
[/li][li]I have no idea how many miles I would drive during the 24 months I am in the US
[/li][li]Should I lease or buy (advantage of buying is that I can bring the car back to the Netherlands afterwards and make a profit)
[/li][li]Should I buy new (how many weeks before ready) or second-hand (certified or not)
[/li][li]What cars are recommended (Bigmike recommended certified second hand Lexus 350, but a Ford Mustang looks cool too)
[/li][li]The car should be representative of my position as tax lawyer
[/li][li]How much can I haggle (I already understand difference between MSRP and Dealer Invoice)
[/li][/ul]

And I am sure there are other things I did not consider…but any tips are more than welcome. Also tips on other stuff that might be relevant to me.

Many thanks in advance and I appreciate your time and suggestions!

…I have no idea how many miles I would drive during the 24 months I am in the US
…Should I lease or buy (advantage of buying is that I can bring the car back to the Netherlands afterwards and make a profit)

The over-mileage charge on leased cars can be extremely high. I would suggest BUY!

Being a Ford driver I like the Mustang .
Might be a bit small if you have to take clients around but you could always rent a larger car for a day or two to handle that unless you need to do it often.
You will be in the Denver area so you might want to think 4-wheel drive.
I like the new 4-door Jeep & it would be good for getting around in a Denver snow.
The resale should be good unless you plan to take it back with you.
In the western US I don’t think a lot of people would think anything bad about a tax lawyer driving a Jeep or pickup truck.
The same way they will almost expect you to wear cowboy boots . At least some of the time.

Or you could go all out . Buy a 1959 Cadillac convertible , get the interior done in hand tooled leather , & a set of longhorns for a hood ornament.
Then get you a couple of Nudie suits . :bigsmile:

First, I suggest using KBB.com to help you, they have a lot of information as well as what you should be paying based on your area (comes in handy with used dealerships/private owners), it can show you how much a car can cost you over the years with its maintenance and insurance included with price of that specific car. you can also find good reviews at MotorTrend.com

Second, if you want luxury or sporty. More and more sporty or “power-house” cars are starting to take on a luxury look. However, the luxury cars nowadays are unbelievably amazing and come with some pretty neat features. As olyteddy said, definitely buy, I suggest avoiding most 1st year and some 2nd year cars of a generation, they typically have more issues than the years to follow of that same generation. A cars value practically cuts in half after two years also, usually being certified as well, depending who you get from, they can have pretty decent warranties too.

If you want sporty and like the Ford Mustang, I suggest looking into the Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro as well. The newest generation of Dodge Chargers (which I love) have improved in looks but it is in its first year of the new generation (yet the car wasn’t drastically changed, just its looks.) While the 1st three cars were just two door the charger is a four door. My opinion though, these cars aren’t worth anything unless they’re a V8, which will come with the gas guzzler tax…

Lexus’s are nice and expensive too. I was talking to my mechanic one day and he mentioned he was replacing a “liquid-cooled” alternator, that was $1000 for just parts. I don’t remember the actual model I’m hoping it was high on the list. BMW’s M series will turn a lot of heads. One down fall, Lexus and BMW aren’t well known for great warranties.

If you like trucks, the Lincoln Mark LT’s is my favorite truck. For a cheaper route Ford/Chevy are good choices
If you like SUV’s, GMC has the Yukon, Envoy(no longer in production), Terrain, and Arcadia. The Yukon, Envoy, and Arcadia have the Denali package option, which is for the spoiled :slight_smile: If anything the Envoy or Terrain would suit best out of the four unless you’re needing more than 4/5 seats.

Last but definitely not least, Hyundai. They have had the best increase in value retention and are topped #1 right now, as well as they have had an increase in quality. The Genesis is pretty nice too, a family member of mine has one. Its exterior is black, with a black and brown interior. I believe they come as coupe or sedan too.

Well tax wish you luck in the U.S. I’m with cholla I like the four door jeep but gas millage isn’t that great 20-22 miles per gal.the wife loves hers because it’s easy to park.they run 25-32,000 dollars.Now a Cadillac Escalade is 65,000 dollars if you like luxury(that’s in the 4x4 group) but they have some fine all wheel drive vehicles also with better gas millage.Good luck there’s a lot to choose from Dodge makes some fine cars like the challenger and the charger for reasonable prices.

I think the “2-year-lease” sounds like the best possibility. Those will be at a premium but you can probably also find a decent-enough used car in the $5000 range. Just make sure the air-conditioner works - sitting at a stop-light in a Denver summer, on asphalt, will definitely make you reconsider Hell and what eggs go thru when being cooked.

See if you can get a 15,000-mile a year lease, too. Typical are 12,000 and Denver’s a large enough city that you will easily drive 1,000 miles a month “just in town”. And there are too many beautiful places to see outside of town…

If you can find decent 2 year lease on an all wheel drive vehicle (car or SUV) it would eliminate the chore of disposing of the vehicle when it’s time to leave. You can simply walk away at the end of the lease term.

All-Wheel drive would be suggested for better stability in inclement weather conditions and mild off the pavement adventures.

Otherwise, a Certified Pre-Owned Lexus, BMW or Mercedes should represent your position nicely. It would still carry the same warranty as a new vehicle at a discounted cost.

Do your homework by visiting sites like AutoTrader.com, NADA Guides.com

You can sample the market in that area by doing searches in that zip code.

Since you have no credit history in the uS, you may want to contact a few dealers in that area via their web sites to scout options without making any commitments.

Often times dealers may have access to in-house financing by International financial institutions (such as BMW Financial) which may accomodate you.

Good luck.

Are you going to be working out of a office or your car? I have a 2004 Ford Crown Vic. Black with a 125,000 miles on it ( they sell for a premium overseas, if you wanted to take it back). I bought it in 2007, it has had everything done to it to put it in first class running shape. With good maintenance it should go 300,000 miles. PM me if you are interested. If you give me enough notice I will put better tires on it and have the interior shampooed for you.
Oh yeah on outward appearance it is the same as a 2011 year model.

The kind of car to pick depends on your kind of situation.
First off, while looking nice, the Escalade, Crown Vic, Mustang, and some of the other cars are gas guzzlers and will eat you alive in gas costs if you do any amount of real driving. $100+ per tank fillups adds up mighty quickly.

Secondly, you probably want to know what your parking situation is. If you live in an apt building with ample parking spaces/slots then you can get the big behemoth type cars like the Escalade. But if you are stuck parking on the street, you will quickly discover how hard it is to park even a medium sized car like the BMW or Lexus. One potential solution would be to rent a garage nearby, if the place you are staying at doesn’t have parking. Another point to factor is how cold it gets in Denver during the winter. A covered parking space or garage will definitely make it easier on you getting in and out of the vehicle.

Regarding the four wheel drive(4WD)-It’s a nice option to have, but its not necessary. I learned how to drive 2WD cars in the snow and have managed fine for over 20 years. The more important thing is to know how to drive in the snow, which boils down to basic things, amongst them: go slow and leave extra room for braking, and know how to recover from skids. People with 4WD’s tend to ignore those basic ideas. Especially in the South. Which is why its never wise to drive in the South during a snowstorm. And why there are so many 4WD’s in the ditch during a snowstorm in the South…

All that being said, if you have the money, a pre-owned or leased BMW, especially a 5-series, will give you a very nice car that handles well on the road and is very comfortable for long trips/a lot of driving. I don’t have any experience other than riding in Lexus cars, but they seem very comfortable.

In addition, you might want to consult consumerreports.org concerning any cars you are thinking about.

Thanks all for the replies so far, really helpful!

Car wise, I think I can narrow down my scope:

[ul]
[li]AWD SUV / Crossover
[/li][li]Second hand, 2 to 4 years old (biggest depreciation is in the first year, up to 42%)
[/li][li]Will be buying instead of leasing
[/li][li]Has to have working A/C
[/li][li]Hybrid would be nice to have (not required)
[/li][li]A budget of USD 25,000 would be feasible
[/li][/ul]

Instead of an all wheel drive which is a constant AWD get one that can be shifted to two wheel drive . Like the Jeep. When AWD is not needed it gets better gas mileage & steers better too.

@ yojimbo197 , I can & do drive a 2 wheel drive in the snow but a 4 wheel drive is better. Having both I know.
It also depends on the two wheel drive . A front wheel two wheel drive does much better in snow.
I agree that a lot of drivers in 4WD’s go too fast in snow & ice. They think because they can accelerate faster they can also stop faster.
Only a good experienced driver with a standard shift can stop a 4WD minimally faster that a 2WD.
My 2WD is light in the rear & RWD it is not a good snow car.
Also a 4WD will set higher & that is better for snow drifts.

Hey Tax, good to see you back!

I don’t know much about the actual process of buying a car in the US but that Lexus will be a far better car than the Mustang, will have better MPG (depending on the exact specification) and will definitely reflect your lawyer status.

[B]Wombler[/B]

[QUOTE=Wombler;2651946]Hey Tax, good to see you back!

I don’t know much about the actual process of buying a car in the US but that Lexus will be a far better car than the Mustang, will have better MPG (depending on the exact specification) and will definitely reflect your lawyer status.

[B]Wombler[/B][/QUOTE]

Yo-

[B][I]TOTALLY agree-eh!![/I][/B]

[QUOTE=Da_Taxman;2651910]Thanks all for the replies so far, really helpful!

Car wise, I think I can narrow down my scope:

[ul]
[li]AWD SUV / Crossover
[/li][li]Second hand, 2 to 4 years old (biggest depreciation is in the first year, up to 42%)
[/li][li]Will be buying instead of leasing
[/li][li]Has to have working A/C
[/li][li]Hybrid would be nice to have (not required)
[/li][li]A budget of USD 25,000 would be feasible
[/li][/ul][/QUOTE]

In the Denver zip code 800***, an '07-'09 Lex RX350 could be feasible in the $25K - $30K price range.

A BMW X3 or Mercedes ML350 from the same era would command a slightly higher investment (mid $30K or so).
Needless to say, the larger SUVs/Crossovers/SAVs from those options (BMW X5) would be a greater aquisition monetarily.

Mercedes ML500/ML550 can be obtained in that price range, but they would be well driven (higher milage) vehicles.

Hey heys, the Tax strikes back!

Buy a used 2005 and later V8 Mustang convertible and enjoy the hell out of it for two years. It will be easy to sell when you leave and you can keep a lot of the $900/month. The newer V8 Mustangs are fast, dependable, get decent gas and will put a smile on your face every day. You might decide to take if back with you after the two years are up.

A convertible Mustang? In Denver, where they have wind and cold temperatures? That’s nuts unless they have outstanding heaters. Not to mention, convertible tops can be a pain in the butt to deal with.

Denver can be very warm in the summer & part of the fall & spring. So I wouldn’t rule out a convertable.
I just don’t think that when the snow is deep that a low setting Mustang would be the best vehicle.
I should know because one of my cars is a Capri which was Mercury’s version of a Mustang. Not a convertable though.

[QUOTE=cholla;2652222]Denver can be very warm in the summer & part of the fall & spring. So I wouldn’t rule out a convertable.
I just don’t think that when the snow is deep that a low setting Mustang would be the best vehicle.
I should know because one of my cars is a Capri which was Mercury’s version of a Mustang. Not a convertable though.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, but I’ve experienced first hand what a crappy heater+soft top convertible is like in the winter. It sucks.

Also, soft tops are easier to break into with a nice sharp knife or other implement. I’m better Denver has some amount of crime. No need to risk getting your stereo and other things stolen.

Any good theif can be in a car as fast with a slim jim as most of us can with a key.

I’ve been in some convertables in the winter . They old GM cars could keep you warm in the front seat when the temp was freezing. That is with the top down.
I agree if it has a crappy heater in the new Mustangs that would be bad. I don’t know how well the heater works. The Capri has a good heater but I had a Mustang just a year older that had a crappy heater. The difference was one is a 4cyl. & the other a V8 . It was the V8 that had the crappy heater. Serpintine belt drove the water pump backwards . Even though the impeller was made for this it didn’t circulate the coolant to the heater core very well.

Also light rear end over rear wheel drive & low to the ground doesn’t equal the best snow car.