buy

Cars and Campervans – The Rent vs Buy Debate

So you’ve finally managed to scrape all your hard-earned cents together to put towards that road trip you’ve been dreaming of, now it’s time to start planning!

You know where you want to go, but have you thought about how you’re going to get there?

Cars and campervans are a great way to get around in Oz, especially if you want to see more of the country between destinations instead of flying. You’ve got the freedom to travel your own way, choose your travel buddies, and most importantly, call shotgun.

But there’s one question on the lips of every backpacker when it comes to getting their wheels:

“Should I rent or buy?”

Over the 2 years I spent Down Under I was lucky enough to experience both renting and buying a car, so hopefully this knowledge will be able to help you out a bit! There are obviously pros and cons to both, so let’s start there.

Renting

Pros:

  • It’s cheaper if just for a short trip
  • Break down? Most companies offer 24/7 roadside assistance to get you back on your travels.
  • You’ll probably end up driving a car you could never afford to buy anyway – no more scraping the mould off the windscreen first thing in the morning, this is luxury driving.
  • Hassle free – forget the tonnes of paperwork and checks needed to buy a car, sort out a few details in the rental office and you’re ready to hit the road!
  • You don’t have to sleep crouched in the gap between the back seat and the front – get a few friends together and you can afford a house on wheels – double bed anyone?

Cons:

  • You’ve got the freedom to travel, but only as far as you can afford – rentals can get very expensive over a longer period of time.
  • Not going back to your original starting point? Be prepared to pay a (sometimes hefty) new drop off location fee. Oh yeah, and make sure your rental company has an office there, or you’re going to have to turn around and head back home to give it back.
  • You’d better be a careful driver. And I mean more careful than my Grandma. The company will thoroughly check the car upon its return for scratches and rents, and if there are any new ones you’ll be covering the cost personally.
  • The money you spend to rent a car is money you’ll never get back, buying a car can sometimes be seen as a better investment option as you can always sell it and get (some of) your money back.
  • Some people argue that a rental car doesn’t provide a ‘real’ road trip experience – you haven’t really done it unless you wake up in a damp tin can with cramp from sleeping in a ball…

Buying

Pros:

  • You’ve got the car. It’s yours. Do what you will with it.
  • You’ve got the freedom (engine permitting) to travel wherever you want, whenever you want – what could be greater than that?
  • Works out much cheaper than renting would over a longer period of time, your only costs will be gas and the occasional check ups at the garage.
  • Unlike renting, you can sell the car when you’ve got your use out of it, and some people who have work done on the car can end up selling it for more than they paid for it – think of it as more of an investment than just a purchase.
  • You’ll be everyone’s new best mate. Who doesn’t love a mate with a car?

Cons:

  • You’ll more than likely be buying a used car. On a backpacker’s budget. Just make sure you get it checked first so it doesn’t break down on you within the first 10 minutes of the drive.
  • It’s your car so it’s your problem – any break downs, leaks or general car faults will be down to you to fix, and these aren’t always cheap. Another reason to make sure the car you’re buying is in a reasonable condition when you hand the money over.
  • Who doesn’t love paperwork? Oh yeah, everyone. Unfortunately there’s a good bit of it involved if you’re looking to buy/sell a car, so get that pen out. And don’t forget about those pesky MOTs –  they can be costly if the car hasn’t been loved by it’s previous owner.
  • On your budget I’m guessing you won’t be able to afford that mansion on wheels on offer at the rental office. Be prepared to spend the next few weeks getting a lot closer to your travel buddies in awkward sleeping positions. And weeing in the bush. Don’t forget about that.
  • If you’re only going to be travelling for a month or so, sometimes it can work out cheaper to rent than buy. Take into consideration the cost of used car insurance, break down cover, getting that tune-up at the garage and more, and suddenly that brand spanking new car isn’t looking so bad after all…

So there you have the top pros and cons when it comes to renting or buying a car/campervan, hope this helps with the decision process! Now all that’s left is to enjoy your trip – it’s a tough life ‘ey? 😉

For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, check out Work Anywhere: Australia the book today!