Y’all…I did it: I bought a car! I am officially no longer living the car-free life! 🙂
In case you’re new here (welcome!), I moved to Atlanta in 2019 without a car after graduating college. I didn’t have a car (or the money to buy one) after my car accident and law suit, and moving to a city it just didn’t make sense to get a car.
But, with all my blog partnerships, Ryan being OTP, and making more friends that are driving distance I knew I was getting to the point where I couldn’t hold off any longer. Plus, I’ve been saving diligently for two years, and that (combined with a few raises!) meant that a car is now finally within my budget, no law suit money needed.
Don’t let me buying a car fool you- I’m still living my best life with my scooter and bike on the Beltline, and am walking distance to both work and the grocery store, haha! I probably won’t drive a whole lot, but one of the hardest parts about not having a car in cases where I really needed one was that it was a constant reminder that my law suit didn’t go well- it was like living in the punishment of what I had been a victim of.
Me buying a car is such a celebratory moment for me- I will probably only drive the car about once a week, but y’all… I’m so excited! I feel like I’m finally 100% free of what happened to me from my car accident, and am now completely independent. I sort of feel like I’m 16 again and just got my license all over again, haha!
Buying a Car By Yourself
I have to be honest y’all, buying a car is stressful! I did it all on my own- I had no help financially (or even a co-signer on the auto loan) and my only assistance was from Ryan (who was of course super helpful but not involved in the logistics) and my parents as I Face Timed from the dealers to show them the cars on video.
I had no clue what I was doing- this was my first time buying a car, and I’ve realized throughout this entire process that I didn’t have a single peer that bought their car all on their own- no judgement, but all of my friend’s parents had either helped them or flat out bought them their car. Hopefully if you’re like me and doing it on your own or are just curious about the process, this will be helpful to you!
I have to be honest, too- I didn’t have a great experience with the car-buying process. I personally felt like every car salesperson I interacted with except the people at Avis were rude, sexist, and didn’t take me seriously. Most of the reason I picked the exact car I did was because I was so pleased with the service at Avis- other dealerships and their salespeople were outright disrespectful and I didn’t want to give them my business!
I actually had one experience at Kia Atlanta South in Morrow where they couldn’t find the keys to the test car at my appointment- we waited an hour and they didn’t even apologize, and then the car salesman just flat-out ghosted me! On the other hand, Avis was fantastic- they were polite and friendly, let me put a deposit down over the phone and answered all of my questions, were super open about the off-the-lot price of the car, and didn’t have any exorbitant dealership fees.
Picking My Car
While I’ve always wanted a Jeep Wrangler, I ended up picking something a lot more reliable (and cheaper!) with a more luxurious feel…a Mazda CX-5! My requirements for my car were: a white car, a 2020 model, Apple CarPlay, heated seats, an SUV, and something with good safety features.
Other cars that I considered:
- Jeep Wrangler (way too expensive and unreliable, and a super rugged ride)
- Toyota Rav-4 (the interior was nothing to write home about and I didn’t love what they did with the shape in the past few years)
- Kia Seltos (too unreliable and known to be cheap in quality)
The Mazda fit the bill and had the nicest, most updated interior out of anything in the same price range. I chose the 2020 model with the plan to buy something used with under thirty thousand miles. My goal was a car that was gently used, and allow me to not pay for any off-the-lot depreciation (I work in finance and simply cannot justify buying a new car!).
The Adulting Side of Getting a Car
This might sound totally naive but I had no concept of the amount of hassles and appointments that come with preparing to buy a car…plus I never anticipated how hard it is to do all of this without a car. I almost lost my mind three times last week!
Here’s everything that buying a car entailed:
- Two weeks before: Researched which cars I wanted and which cost was in my budget- I used an online car payment calculator to figure out my maximum cost and shopped online on Car Gurus.
- One week before: Adjusted my budget to include the cost of the car, insurance, parking, and gas. I then started calling dealers to get the off-the-lot price of specific vehicles. To give you an idea, I put ~30% down so I could have a low enough monthly payment to be manageable, while capitalizing on my low interest rate.
- Tuesday: Called my insurance to add car insurance, then took a virtual driving course to get even cheaper rates (I shopped rates but luckily my own State Farm insurance was the cheapest). I also continued calling dealers to get more estimates on car costs.
- Wednesday: I Ubered to and from the DDS and got a Georgia license (I recommend going at 7:10 AM before they open because they no longer take appointments and it gets busy.)!Then I shopped around for car loans (this involved several hours-long trips to banks via my scooter).
- Thursday: Got a parking spot at my apartment building and put a deposit down a specific car I was interested in to see on Saturday. Then I spent some money on Amazon and bought car accessories so they would come in time for the car.
- Friday: Followed up with car dealers to make appointments (I used Car Gurus to find white 2020 Mazda CX-5’s near Atlanta and there were actually only two near Atlanta) and went to my first car appointment to do a test drive.
- Saturday: Went to the second dealership and bought my car. I bought my car from Avis Car Sales in Morrow, GA and they were fantastic!
I did all of the above in the four days after I got back from Miami- I have such a busy month of May that I actually only had one Saturday where I had time to go car shopping, haha!
It was a very busy (read: awful) week but now that it’s over I’m so glad I didn’t drag out the process- it was stressful and felt like everything had to be done at once, anyway. A lot of things like your car loan, insurance, and expenses are dependent on the specific car that you choose (especially if it’s used as there is more variability) so I’m glad I did everything in one week!
Decorating My Car
OK now for the fun part- you know I had to go all out and make the car cute! Everything I bought was actually really practical (well, mostly LOL) and I bought a few things for safety, too! I purchased everything on Amazon, and went for a pink theme to soften the look of the all-black interior.
- Beach towels (for when the seats get hot!)
- Clean Cotton Yankee Candle Sphere
- Car Coasters
- Collapsible laundry basket
- Georgia decal
- Trunk liner
- Rubber floor mats
- Cargo cover (it goes over your trunk so no one can see in)
- Air vent putty (I saw this on Tik Tok and it’s amazing for dusting!)
- Car Vacuum
- Plastic scratch remover (the car was used and the previous owner was tough on the plastic in the door, so far I haven’t really tried this yet but the reviews are good!)
- Emergency car kit– every female driver should have one of these- it has everything you could possibly need (in pink!)!
- Dash cam (I’m not sure I’m keeping this because the cord is driving me crazy haha)