I’m 28 and I Finally Got My Driver’s License: Car-Buying Advice, Anyone?

When I moved to Atlanta, the idea of driving on what essentially felt like the “wrong” side of the road did not appeal to me. In Jamaica, like most Commonwealth nations, we drive on the left side of the road, so when people made left turns in America I would have a momentary panic.

Even now, I have to remind myself to stay out of the left lane when driving. I have never veered into the left lane by accident, but I would be lying if I said my instincts didn’t often send me there before good old common sense kicked in.

For this reason, coupled with the usual terror most non-Atlantans feel about driving in the city, I wasn’t too keen on getting my license or owning a car.

Car Note vs Plane Tickets

As the price of gas steadily climbed, the price of ridesharing soon followed. And as my social life took me more often away from home, I began to flirt with the idea of owning a car. Still, I could never seem to get past the fact that the cost of a car note, insurance, and gas was a plane ticket or a hotel booking.

It just wasn’t worth the sacrifice. It didn’t help that Uber showered me with special passes every few months, usually right after coming back from a big trip. When people and publications asked me, “How do you afford to travel to so many beautiful places?” I would answer, “If you don’t own a car, you can always afford to travel on a First World income and a minimalist budget”.

I did, however, promise myself that if at any point owning a car cost as much as ridesharing, it would be time to purchase a car. When Uber prices skyrocketed a few months ago, I knew that time had come. After deliberating for another or month or two, I finally booked my long overdue road test.

Nerves & Wheels

The day before the test I was so nervous I locked myself in my room and didn’t venture far from it for long. Why, you wonder?

For the whole month between booking the test and the actual test date, I had only been able to practice three or four times, for maybe 20 – 30 minutes each time. What made me even more anxious was that I couldn’t rent the tiny car I wanted and I would be forced to use Dad’s 192-inch sedan, which has the uncanny ability to make parallel parking feel like rocket science.

In short, I was sure I would fail and was already looking up driving classes in my area so I could guarantee more practice time for the second round. I hadn’t completely given up hope, though. I spent the night before watching videos of parallel parking, trying to re-learn the formula I had been taught years ago in driver’s ed.

Once you know that formula, you can parallel park anything. The problem was, it was so long ago, I had forgotten it and was out-of-practice. Dad refused to teach it to me as he’s one of those drivers who believe in “forget the formula—know the car”.

Well, apparently the formula was not too hard to relearn because not only did I manage to park his over-sized sedan using it, but I passed the test and was given my driver’s license for my pains. I then rushed into the city to meet hubby after school to share the news. He had known I was taking my driver’s test, but I never told him what day or time it was.

Financing the Car

After considering my options and having a long chat with him, I decided to finance my first car. The very next day, I got pre-qualified with Capital One and have now been looking for cars that suit my interest and my budget. I’ll be waiting until the end of the month to purchase though, since everyone claims car salesmen are more willing to cut a good deal at that time.

The car I have my heart set on is the same car that I have been drooling over since 2014. I think we all have two dream cars: the one we can afford now and the one we hope to afford later. My dream car of the future is the Range Rover Evoque. My dream car for the present is the Nissan Juke. I’m not picky about the year, but I am partial to the SL trims and would accept the SV without complaint.

The Nissan Juke

For those of you who have no idea what a Nissan Juke is, it has been described as a frog, a hippopotamus, an alien and an ugly duckling.

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A flame in the forest greens Owner: @henningjons

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Rolling Greens Owner: @prema04

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Happy Juke Day! ☀️

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If you hate the car, you needn’t worry about sparing my feelings in the comments; you are not alone. It’s one of those cars you either really love, or can’t stand. My Dad is one of the latter and has already forewarned me that if he ever finds himself stranded and in need of help, and this is the car I intend to use to rescue him, let him die!

The Hyundai Veloster

The only thing that could persuade me not to buy a Nissan Juke is not being able to find one in my budget range. In that instance, I would take a Hyundai Veloster as a runner-up. That would be the same car I drove out west under Tristan’s watchful eye, down the winding mountain road of Arches National Park.

The Backups

Other last resort options I’m willing to consider, but aren’t particularly excited about, include the:

  • Hyundai Elantra GT
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Ford Focus
  • Kia Rio
  • Kia Rio5

You may notice all the cars I like are either compact SUVs or hatchbacks. I may have managed to pass my driving test with the only sedan I have ever driven, but I still hate driving them.

Car-Buying Advice—Anyone?

I know most of my readers are far more experienced than myself with buying and financing cars and welcome any and all advice you have to share.

I am especially curious about what my insurance will look like as a married 28-year-old woman who is nonetheless a new driver, and how on Earth one shops for car insurance without a car, since I can’t drive it off the lot without insurance. Negotiation tips are also especially helpful.

And, if you or someone you know owns a Nissan Juke, Hyundai Veloster, or any of the backups on my list, by all means, tell me all about it in the comments below!

Update 8/9/2018: I received insurance quotes as high as $380+ per month! My God, who invented insurance and is he sure we need it! Some insurance companies like Liberty Mutual and Allstate refused to insure me at all! Thankfully, eSurance gave me a quote at $999 for the Juke and with a general range of $1100 to $945 for the other car options I mentioned. I’ll be going with them and have signed up for 6 hours of defensive driving classes to help keep my rates low. May the car gods have mercy on me!

Update 8/9/2018: I figured you guys wouldn’t believe this unless you saw it for yourself. This is officially the most expensive quote I have received so far. I would love to meet the person who can actually afford this!

Amica Car Insurance Quote 1300 Plus.png

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92 thoughts on “I’m 28 and I Finally Got My Driver’s License: Car-Buying Advice, Anyone?

  1. I have a Subaru Crosstrek which I love. I also like the looks of the Juke! A few weeks ago I drove a Hyudai Elantra rental and I thought it seemed pretty solid. I say get something that you enjoy and excites you!

    1. I did look at that car and you are the second person to recommend Subaru! I saw one downtown in Atlanta and it caught my eye because the coloured inserts in the rims matched the car and that was pretty cool. Not every brand can pull that off without looking tacky.

      I’m glad you are in the camp of few Americans who like the Juke. It’s way more popular in the UK, Jamaica and Canada.

      I’ve heard great things about the Elantra too, but have never driven one. I went off specs for that one! The MPG won my interest.

      I am also glad you agree I should drive something that excites me, because it needs to keep me focused enough to stay on the right side of the road lol

    1. Oh, I was very much interested in the Impreza, but the MPG wasn’t cutting it for me for the year I saw. I was disappointed too because it was otherwise a great car. Also thought of the Forrester and the Outlander, but they are bigger than I would like. Atlanta requires a lot of fitting into tight spaces for parking, so I’m sticking to vehicles that are under 170 inches in length, where possible.

      Thanks for the recommendation though! I wonder if I can find a newer Impreza with better MPG. I’ll look again tonight and will keep them in mind. 🙂

  2. We have a Jeep and a Honda CRV. I basically just research first all about a car I’m interested in and then go to several dealers to test drive before sealing the deal. I think you can just call around for insurance first but you have to tell them what car you will have, mileage, how far you will be driving it, had any accidents, police after you or not (jk – sorta), tickets, etc. And they should provide you with a quote. Hey going over to Scotland and driving on the left side gave ME palpitations!

    1. I thought of a Jeep but my bank account would not get along well with that MPG lol. Most of the Jeeps I could afford had MPGs in the teens. I ran like hell!

      I have gotten so quotes so far and they are HIGH. I mean $380 per month high, but esurance gave me a quote for $999 for 6 months, so I think I’ll be going with them when the time comes. I’m taking 6 hours of defensive driving classes next week to help with that.

      1. Even when you find a deal on insurance they will jack that price up when it’s time to renew and you will find yourself shopping again. Ticks me off when that happens and even more so their “reasons” why. Good luck on learning to drive cause there are straight up fools out there!

      2. I didn’t know that! I would expect it to go down at renewal if I haven’t had any claims. Interesting! I guess I’ll get shopping for car insurance every 6 months!

      3. Well I’m glad you told me that. I got that defensive driving class out of the way last night, so now I can get cheaper rates for the next 3 years. Hopefully!

  3. The Fiesta and Focus are clearly the best designed and built cars in that list but the Korean models are very good value and are still perfectly decent. The Juke is generally regarded by the motoring press as a bit ‘meh’ but the Veloster is rated reasonably well. If it was me it would be between the Veloster (cos it’s unusual) & a zesty petrol engined Fiesta (once described as a ‘mini Aston Martin’ by Jeremy Clarkson).

    1. Actually, from the reviews I’ve seen the Veloster is the one rated meh in performance. It looks more sporty than it is. I love the look of it, but I have to agree that there is a lag in acceleration, even for turbo versions. It corners well though and is a comfy ride. The Juke has gotten great reviews for its handling and its ability to switch between the three modes (normal, turbo-charged, eco).

      I do like the Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta, but of all the cars on my list the Ford Fiesta is the most expensive to insure. I have no idea why! The cheapest to insure was the Hyundai Accent.

      1. Yeah, the Veloster is all looks, no serious poke. Reading the car mag reviews both the Veloster and the Juke get an average score of 3/5 (i.e., a bit meh). The Fiesta scores 4.5/5.
        As for insurance costs, this comes down to risk – whether a car is more likely to be a target for thieves, or to be driven in a reckless way. The Fiesta may rank higher than the others for both (desirable engineering, absolute hoot to drive, apparently).

      2. Interesting! If I was going to steal a car, I would go for the Veloster. It’s more sporty and the newer ones especially come in some attention-grabbing colours! I’ve seen everything from tangerine orange to gold. I guess you could say the same about the Fiesta, too.

        The Juke is not for everyone. Those who love it, really love it. You don’t see a lot of older Jukes reselling on the market, compared to other cars, and I think that’s a good sign that people tend to hold on to it. It’s just one of the cars. When you love it, you love it!

  4. (This may be a repeat comment but my computer blinked on me and not sure if it posted the first time!) Good luck! I’m on the hatred side of the Juke but it’s your car. 🙂 We just financed our first car and the salesman got us within a dollar of our pre-approval limit by coercing us into a top-level warranty we don’t need. If you want a warranty, you may want to ask if they have lower-level options than what they’re offering, bc the dealership we went to did have lower-level options but they sure were not offered to us and we didn’t know to ask. I don’t have any advice on insurance or anything else but dang it, you better watch those extra offerings.

    1. It is, haha, but I don’t think the other one has your name and picture, so I’ll keep this one up too. Thanks again ^_^

  5. I owned series of cars, from the luxury (Jaguar J6) to sports (Mitsubishi Spider) to just plain old reliable cars. My advice is to go with what will make you happy, as long as you can afford it. It is just a car that at the end of day will get you from point A to point B.

    1. Thank you! My parents kept pushing me to get a jallopy for a first car, but I just don’t see me getting excited about getting behind the wheel of a car I don’t love, being as terrified as I already am of driving here! Like you said, best to go with what I want. At least I will look forward to driving it and be extra careful as a result.

  6. Good luck! I’m on the hatred side of the Juke but it’s your car! Lol. I don’t know about insurance or anything like that, but we just financed our first car, and the salesman managed to get us within a dollar of our pre-approval limit by coercing us into a warranty we don’t really need. Don’t let them coerce you into a warranty! If you want one, ask if they have lower-level packages because that option was sure not offered to us even though it was available.

    1. The Juke is actually pretty reasonable for insurance. It was cheaper than insuring a Ford Fiesta if you can believe it!

      I don’t plan to be talked into anything! I’m sorry they conned you! I would rather pay $90 for a mechanic to do a pre-inspection and pay the $75 for roadside assistance from esurance, which is who I will likely go with. They gave the most reasonable quote so far!

      Thanks for the advice!

  7. Ohhh insurance! Don’t remind me about those thieves. As a 21 year old last summer and a new driver at that, my insurance premium was more or less J$200,000. My dad was furious and wanted to buy it in his name so the premium would be less than half that, but we’ve had a long tumultuous past (he’s recently come back into my life.. you know what they say, people mellow with age) and I wasn’t about to accept a gift from someone so fickle withour it being fully mine. And so, 200k it was. I’m pleased to say that after a claim free year my current premium is $120,000 and I was assured it’ll be under 100k after a second claim free year.

    Anyway, congrats dear! I understand your fears before the test. I live/grew up with my mom who doesn’t own a car, nor did any of my close friends personally at the time.. so I barely got to practice too. Was so nervous the night before! Wish you all the best in your car buying 🙂

  8. Ohhh insurance! Don’t remind me about those thieves. As a 21 year old last summer and a new driver at that, my insurance premium was more or less J$200,000. My dad was furious and wanted to buy it in his name so the premium would be less than half that, but we’ve had a long tumultuous past (he’s recently come back into my life.. you know what they say, people mellow with age) and I wasn’t about to accept a gift from someone so fickle withour it being fully mine. And so, 200k it was. I’m pleased to say that after a claim free year my current premium is $120,000 and I was assured it’ll be under 100k after a second claim free year.

    Anyway, congrats dear! I understand your fears before the test. I live/grew up with my mom who doesn’t own a car, nor did any of my close friends personally at the time.. so I barely got to practice too. Was so nervous the night before! Wish you all the best in your car buying 🙂

    1. I wish you had left your name so I could address you! But whoever you are, thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      200k for insurance in Jamaica is robbery! My goodness! I’m glad you had a claim free year and lowered the premium. I’m hoping for the same. I hope it drops even lower for you! Just stay away from the taxi drivers 😂 What kind of car did you get, by the way?

      I’m sorry to hear about your father. I have one of those as well, but I never took him back when he came around. He has been long replaced by my stepdad and I have no need for two.

      All the best to us both!

    1. I considered a VW, but couldn’t find any in my price range that wasn’t a manual shift. I have driven the Golf before and did like it.

      1. it would be fun to commute to work in a GTI until the monthly payment caught up with me. 🙂

      2. Hahahaha, I had one of those on my list too but then realised it was a manual transmission and removed it. The monthly payment wasn’t too bad, but I’m guessing insurance would kill me.

      3. what? no one showed you how to drive a stick? it’s easy. you could go screaming down the road.

      4. LoL I never said that. I learned to drive on a stick. I just prefer a manual transmission. As a new driver, the less I have to think about the better.

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