New or Used: "Ja-nee" on Short Term Rentals?

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used ja nee on short term rentals

Cody writes:

Dear Sajeev and Steve,

I work as a research scientist, and currently we have a visiting scientist from South Africa working with us for six months. Normally visitors stay in university housing and are able to take the shuttle bus to our lab, but our current visitor is bringing her husband with her and staying in a house they found themselves. She should have about a 30 minute 20 mile drive to the lab and just looking for reliable transportation around a medium sized city, and maybe the occasional weekend sightseeing trip. She does already have a rental scheduled at the airport for the first week (probably an Impala), but for more long-term what type of newer car should she be looking for that will retain its value when she goes to sell it at the end of her stay, or would it be more reasonable to rent for six months? I will mention she drives a Land Cruiser most of the time in South Africa and seems to like it a lot.

Steve Answers:

The question for your friend may not be ‘the car’… but ‘the owner’.

Forget about rental. If she wants to make a mid-four figured donation to the nearest automotive for profit that’s fine. In the world of dollars and sense long-term rentals simply don’t make sense.

What she needs is a well maintained vehicle in the $4000 range. Let them spend a few weekends shopping among private owners, or, they can go on Ebay and find a nearby seller with strong positive feedback and a vehicle that they would likely enjoy.

Good luck!

Sajeev Answers:

Steve, as per usual, is right. My father is a professor/research scientist, and it seems that the PhD/Post-Doctoral lifestyle is far from platinum grilles and Bentleys. Honestly, it’s also far from buying a late-model family sedan for short-term use, either. Someone in your friend’s shoes needs a short-term vehicle that’s cheap to purchase, have close to no depreciation, and mainstream enough (no finicky European whips) to guarantee a quick sale on Craigslist when the sabbatical ends.

She likes her Land Cruiser? My advice is to get a sub $10k Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma/4Runner, Ford Ranger, 1st-2nd Gen Explorer, Nissan Hardbody/Pathfinder, Jeep Cherokee, Chevy S-10…or any other cheap to own, easy to sell trucklet. No Suzukis or Isuzus, please: they seem fairly hard to re-sell in a hurry. The smarter money is on a 5-10 year old W-body/Panther, older CamCord or anything else Honda or Toyota, but they aren’t teenagers with no finances to speak of. Spending a few hundred extra for a non-Impala is understandable, and acceptable.

My fav of the bunch would either be a 5.0 Explorer or a nice V6 Tacoma with a stick. Both are a definite Ja-Nee given the circumstances.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.
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5 of 16 comments
  • CompWizrd CompWizrd on Jan 30, 2012

    The possibly correct answer is whoever is hiring this person provides a vehicle as a company car. If it's a fleet vehicle, insurance is usually very cheap(especially for a "new" driver). There may be some income tax implications for the employee, but it still has to be easier than buying and selling a used car. The cost of providing the car might even be tax-deductible by the employer?

    • See 2 previous
    • Baggins Baggins on Jan 30, 2012

      @Luke42 " At the very least, this visiting scholar’s boss will have to be a bureaucratic wizard to pull that off. Remember, most people who work for Universities are the same “government employees” that certain political groups resent, distrust, and try to hamstring at every opportunity. Also, Universities are large institutions with considerable bureaucratic momentum. But, alas, the resentment is misplaced — university employees don’t get paid much (compared to people with similar skills in the commercial sector)" I think you need to head over to Huff Po, as this has zero to do with why he boss might struggle to rent her a car, other than the "large institutions with considerable bureaucratic momentum". Alas, you probably dont know how condescending you really sound.

  • Tree Trunk Tree Trunk on Jan 30, 2012

    What will kill her is the insurance. When I first moved over the Atlantic I was paying over 200$ dollars a month for decant coverage on a 10K SUV. When the insurance broker asked me about my driving history, 10year no accident was not the answer she accepted but rather last week for your US drivers license. So I was grouped with all the 15year old and people with major driving infractions without qualifying for any of the discounts available for those groups. The solution is of course to have a US driver front what ever purchase takes place. Just not sure how legal that is and the "owner" on record would have to be willing to take a ding on their insurance history if the transfer from the left side of the road does not go smoothly.

  • Tassos Honda is bleeding billions in order to keep this loser Acura alive.In the REST of the world, Identical vehicles to Acuras are just called HONDAS. Best example, the NSX! It was NEVER called an "acura" outside the US.
  • Cprescott Very expensive all terrain golf cart.
  • 56m65711446 ALL AEB systems should be tested using a SES executive from DoT as the test dummy.
  • TheMrFreeze Wife and I bought just bought new (to us) daily drivers...both have manual transmissions and neither has any kind of "new" safety nanny technology in it. By choice. That's how we roll.
  • IanGTCS Where I live safety inspections are only required when transferring ownership except between spouses. The ministry or police can in theory pull unsafe vehicles off the road but I haven't heard of that happening. Commercial vehicles over a certain weight required annual inspections and I've seen unsafe ones removed from the road a few times. I'm honestly fine with no regular inspections. A ball joint or bearing can go from fine to goodbye wheel in less time than a year anyways. Can't say I see too many total wrecks driving around so it would be kind of pointless.