The Random Writings of Rachel: We Bought a Car

We Bought a Car

At the ages of 24 and 31, we bought our first car.

A mite late in life, considering our American heritage. I can tell you the story behind the delay, if you're interested.

Neither one of us got our driver's licenses bright and early at 16. I was on the other side of the world in high school, so I took driver's training late, and ended up getting my license six months before I turned 18 (and after I'd already completed first semester of my freshman year at university. It's soooo cool to be a freshman without a driver's license, I can tell ya!). Angel didn't get his license till after he was 18 because of the immense cost of driver's training and adding a teenage driver to the family insurance plan--it just made better financial sense for him to wait on getting a license. He rode his bike to work in high school, instead.

Angel's dad is a highly skilled mechanic with a talent for finding broken down cars and getting them running again. He found a Neon with a burned-out engine in someone's backyard, bought it and installed a different engine, and gave that car to Angel when he moved out when we got married back in 2010. Angel loved that car, and was convinced he could keep it running forever. It ran incredibly loud--so loud that conversations inside the car were a little difficult, and so loud that sometimes people would look at the sporty little car in confusion and ask us if it was a diesel...but it ran!

I inherited my first car from my great-grandmother. It was a gorgeous blue Chevy from the mid-90s. I loved how sturdy and comfortable it was...and the fact that it was blue. I've always been partial to blue cars. It had a little bit of a rough couple of years under my ownership...there was a broken belt, an ice-induced slide-off, and two separate occasions when someone didn't look in the rear-view mirror when backing up in the driveway, and knocked two little dents in my safely parked car.

We had lots of interesting adventures with those two cars in our first few years of marriage. I have plenty of memories of sitting cross-legged on the driveway, chatting with Angel while he was under, on top of, or inside one or the other of the cars, replacing a strut or an alternator or an O2 sensor or something of the sort. 

Moving to China meant saying a permanent goodbye to both cars and embracing the car-free lifestyle. I learned to really appreciate ShenZhen's public transport system, and actually began to feel quite powerful as I figured out that I could make my way all over both ShenZhen and Hong Kong without ever needing to drive myself (this was a revolutionary concept, considering that I drove more than 25 miles one way when I was attending college).


We found it pretty fun to rely on public transportation, but our new home's public transportation system is fairly spotty. Buses can't take you anywhere and everywhere, and we found ourselves in need of a car--to get to work, to the grocery store, and anywhere else life would take us.

This was a long-anticipated purchase. When we were in China, Angel browsed secondhand car listings and read reviews of different models. We wanted to put a lot of thought into the purchase because--seriously--this is the biggest purchase we have made thus far in our lives! That's a slightly scary thought. Our low-cost lifestyle in China (added to the fact that we spent the entire year not buying anything that was not absolutely necessary) allowed us to save up for this anticipated future expense.

Toyotas are Angel's dream cars, and while they're not cheap anywhere in the world, they tend to hold their value especially well and remain very expensive in this country. All imported cars are much more expensive than locally produced cars. When we were doing our research, we found that we could buy either a brand-new local car, or a 7+ year old Toyota of a similar style for about the same price. Because of the warranty on new cars, and the fact that repairs are more expensive on imported cars, we opted for the new, local car that was within our budget.


We combined our priorities: I wanted a small car, to make parking easier, and I wanted to pick out the color. Angel wanted a decent-sized engine, especially after test driving a car with a 1.0 liter engine. I would have picked blue if I could have, but this car didn't come in blue, so orange was our best option (I sure wouldn't want a 'normal' color like silver or gold).


Were you this excited when you purchased your first car? It feels like a pretty momentous event in the never-ending journey towards becoming continually more adult-ish.

21 comments:

  1. I got my license at 19! My mom dropped me off for my first semester of college :P

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  2. hahaha, I feel ya! I actually didn't even get my license until 4 months after I graduated from college! :P I'd love to find a place to live in that didn't require a whole ton of driving (I'm a fan of biking/walking whenever possible, haha.)

    Congrats on your new car! :D! The first car I got to drive around regularly was a Toyota too! :]

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  3. What a cute car! And a big milestone in your path toward adulthood. I was about 30 when I got my first new car and it felt like you describe. But isn't your steering wheel on the wrong side?! :-)

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  4. What a sweet car, and a pretty colour, too! I have had two used cars - the first was REALLY unreliable, the second a little better :)

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  5. Love it, so cute! My dad bought my first car for me, so my first car purchase was the one Adam and I bought together in 2008, our Toyota 4Runner. It definitely made me feel more adult-ish! :)

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  6. Buying a car is a big thing! It sounds like you guys put a lot of thought into it, plus the car is cute!

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  7. Loved your post...I'm going car shopping in the next few weeks: a Nissan, I think...my first one was a 1923 Morris Minor (my, how I LOVED that car!)...purchased at aged 18 with the savings from my Saturday jobs/entrepreneurial activities....I **adored** that car....

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  8. I'm really looking forward to buying my first car!! I didn't get my license until I was about 21 years old even living in a New England state where I could have gotten my license at 16. Because every year a teen was dying in a car crash, it made me afraid to drive myself (and especially someone else!). I moved to NYC for college and it never made sense to own a car when there is so many modes of transportation. But I will be getting a car when I move soon so I'm super excited about that! Congrats on your new car!!

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  9. awww how fuuuuun and congratulations! that is a big huge scary thing but yay! great photos too, especially because it still so hard for my brain to comprehend driving on the other side (though we did it in australia and it's quite the test!) congratulations to you both!!

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  10. Cute! We have a little Toyota, similar to that and it's red. I bought a car after I graduated from college--a used one that wasn't too pretty. Then not too long after we were married, we ended up with just my husband's car until we had to get rid of it and then bought the one we have now. So it was my first time to buy a car from a dealer (though it wasn't new, either).

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  11. I always feel adult-ish, but never quite an adult. Buying a car helps, though!

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  12. Aw you had me excited that someone else didn't get their first car until late... but this isn't your first car, just the first one you've picked out. :-p For different reasons not that different from why you delayed your licenses neither Ryan nor I have ever had a car at all, and we're both 29. I was telling him I really want to get a first car by 30, but we'll see how that goes...

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  13. Haha that is awesome! It's so cute! And I am so Americanized I actually gasped when I saw you driving in the "passenger" side! I've never purchased a new car - the closest I've come was saving up and purchasing a two-year-old Chevy. All my other vehicles ('91 Honda Civic, '00 Toyota Echo, '99 GMC pickup) were hand-me-downs nabbed on the cheap! If I were to ever purchase a brand-spanking new car right off the lot I'd be taking just as many pics (if not more) as you did! Love it! Congrats on the new wheels and mobility!! :)

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  14. Congrats! I'm a Toyota loyalist, but I agree it's nice to have a new car and not have to worry about repairs right away. What brand is this?

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  15. Definitely very exciting - I know the feeling it was epic getting my car! :) I worked hard for it and it was nice driving a car I didn't have to worry about breaking down or overheating. Lol. The little things right? Congrats on the new car and enjoy it!! The freedom is priceless. :) Have a great weekend Rachel! -Iva

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  16. Congrats on your first car purchase!! I had a toyota before my current car and they definitely hold their own value!!

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  17. Congrats on buying your first car! It's so nerve wracking and can be frustrating! We've had to do it twice in the last year or so. Your car is so cute! I love it!

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  18. Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors.

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  19. Great post! Most people tend to ignore the true price of the car, or all of the other costs that go along with it. They just look at a monthly payment and go from there!

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