Buying a car in Florida - what to consider?(20 Posts)
DSS is moving to Florida (Tampa) soon and needs to buy a car very soon after arrival.
He's never bought a car before! As far as I can tell, considerations would be different from the UK, here I would advise him to get a small engine, low tax and insurance etc, a fiesta or similar.
Any advice for buying in Tampa? What should he be looking for? Any makes/models to look out for? He'll only have $2-3k to spend, will that be ok? Any tips where to buy?
Tax is going to be the same no matter what he buys (there is the state transaction tax and this is a flat rate, plus various fees associated with paperwork, and then he would probably have to buy a municipal sticker as well as state vehicle registration) and insurance depends on zipcode plus his age and risk factors.
If he's new to Florida and his entire credit history is in the UK getting a loan might be iffy. Advertised financing from dealerships is something designed to lure customers to the dealer -- most buyers will not be eligible for the advertised low interest rate. This is much more likely to be true for someone new to the country. So a used car with cash down is his best option.
He should look in CarMax, a nationwide used car dealer. He will be able to find cars online. Avoid looking in car ads in the paper ('buyer beware'). If there is no Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) accompanying a dealership listing then a car he sees online is not really on the lot.
However, given that it is Florida he might be able to pick up a car driven by an older person who is no longer driving for various reasons. (Florida has a lot of older people who migrate there for warmer weather from northern snowy states). If he finds a little old lady parting with an older model he should ask to see a maintenance record.
In general a used car with about 90,000 miles and up would go for the money he is willing to part with. The car he buys should have air conditioning. He can look up various models and years on autotrader dot com or carsdirect dot com and also kelly blue book to see if he is getting a reasonable price.
Good reliable models to look at would be Honda Civic or Toyota Camry. However, if he takes a chance on cars for sale in the newspaper in Florida he might be able to get a car being sold by 'one carefree [older] lady driver' and that sort of seller is more likely to be selling an American car (Buick, Chevrolet, etc)
Geico is definitely a good solid insurer. WRT drivers licence -- he will need evidence that he is legally in the US as well as other documentation -- 'Non US citizens' instructions from Florida DMV
Thanks, really useful tips there.
He's not looking for finance, he knows he won't get it so we are lending him the cash to help get him set up. He was married to a US citizen (now divorced) and has a green card. He doesn't have a UK license, he took his driving test whilst married in the states. He returned to the UK after the divorce but now regrets that and is making plans to return.
He just never bought a car before and didn't know where to start looking or what to look for. He asked us for advice and I was rather stumped. I'll point him to Carmax, the models you mention and Geico for insurance. We'll then find out I guess if the budget needs increasing, that's interesting about used prices.
So much to sort out!
Thanks again, any further thoughts welcomed!
Oh dear, cheapest car at Carmax in Tampa is $9k! Back to the drawing board.
How long has he been out of the US with his green card? There are time restrictions -- afaik you can't live outside the US for more than 12 months. If he was a resident/green card for at least 5 years then he can apply for citizenship but he needs to make sure the magic time period hasn't been passed. He may also need a re-entry permit. He needs to check with USCIS online. They are sticklers about this.
I would be wary of buying a car from craigslist unless I knew a good deal about cars or was able to get a mechanic to come along with me to give it a good look over. Paying someone to go along for this purpose would be a good investment. He should be prepared to shell out at least $100.
He left in September last year and believes he needs to return before 12 months is up to avoid problems which seems to tally with what you're saying too. The green card itself only arrived a few weeks ago. He's planning to go back end May, early June so is researching flats and cars now.
He did/ does have a bank a/c in the states but no credit cards or loans so interesting about leases because, at 130 a month that would be a good option & I shall suggest he looks into if he might be eligible for that.
I don't think he (or DH who's going with him for the first week) would be up for small ad (newspaper or Craigslist) type sales so is going to have to be a dealership or something more formal.
He's also not going to be able to finance or lease a vehicle if he doesn't have a job. If he already has a bank account he should see about getting a secured credit card to start building up some credit history.
Does he have a permanent green card? If not, he's not going to be able to stay in the US once it expires since he's divorced.
He will have a job, his old employer has offered to have him back & they're sorting out the details now. So it will be a future job rather than the one he's had in the last few months, could be a problem perhaps.
He got divorced last year and applied for the green card then, it's arrived recently with 10 years on it so I think it is valid even without the marriage, it was issued 6 months after the divorce. Does that not sound right?
I try not to give out immigration advice- especially since the laws change all the time. But without trying to sound patronizing- I would imagine that he's already verified his status with INS and spoken to an immigration attorney...right?
$2-3k for a car is a very small amount. I would look on Ebay motors, and buy something like a Honda Civic or a Kia. It sounds like he needs to get something that would get him to work and back while he's building up his credit and savings. If he's under 25 he's going to be paying a lot for insurance.
No, not patronising at all, thanks for the Qs, it is good to know what to ask him. I have looked online myself but have not found it easy to understand. . He has not consulted an attorney, no. I think he applied after he divorced on the basis he'd lived and worked in Tampa for over 2 years but not 100% sure so will check it with him.
You're quite right, he needs a run around to get him to work until he can upgrade his car. In the UK that budget would be fine for that but we need to work out alternatives coz it clearly is not ok there.
He's 26 so insurance shouldn't be too crazy I hope.
I am divorced and have my green card. In fact it came up for renewal shortly after the divorce and nobody asked. However, I was married for over 20 years.
'If You Are Late In Applying To Remove The Conditions On Residence
If you fail to properly file Form I-751 within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident:
Your conditional resident status will automatically be terminated and we will begin removal proceedings against you
You will receive a notice from us telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions
You will receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing you may review and rebut the evidence against you. You are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements (we are not responsible for proving that you did not comply with the requirements)
The Form I-751 can be filed after the 90-day period if you can prove in writing to the director of the appropriate Service Center that there was good cause for failing to file the petition on time. The director has the discretion to approve the petition and restore your permanent resident status.'
From NatashaBee's link.
If he didn't apply to remove the conditions then I think your nephew needs to consult a lawyer.
On travel outside the US for green card holders --
'Does travel outside the United States affect my permanent resident status?
Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status. A general guide used is whether you have been absent from the United States for more than a year. Abandonment may be found to occur in trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence. While brief trips abroad generally are not problematic, the officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home. Other factors that may be considered include whether you maintained a U.S. mailing address, kept U.S. bank accounts and a valid U.S. drivers license, own property or run a business in the United States, or any other evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence.'
Has he filed a tax return this year? If he worked outside the US he will still owe taxes and even if he didn't work he should still file.
I really think he needs to see a lawyer.
It doesn't look good if he closed his bank account, etc.
If he has no driving record in the US then he will be paying quite a bit for insurance initially. Maybe not as much as he would if he was under 25.
Honda Civic, small Kia and small Hyundai models, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Grand Prix, Nissan Sentra (older models for all suggestions) are all likely to go cheap but are also likely to need work.
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