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I'm an Australian citizen with an Australian drivers license. But I haven't lived in Australia since 2003, so I need to ask:

I'll be in Perth for one month. I'd like to have access to car the whole time. It is practical to quickly buy a car, use it for the month, and sell it at the end? Or it this more trouble than its worth compared to renting a car?

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    Isn't this going to depend on the person? Renting may have mileage limits, won't let you drive in the desert (well, some of them), and frankly, the train system is pretty decent in Perth, but then some people don't like public transport... – Mark Mayo Mar 19 '15 at 11:14
  • Renting in Australia doesn't generally have mileage limits any more, but I can't comment on the remainder having never made it over to Perth (yet). – dlanod Mar 19 '15 at 11:41
  • It depends how much of a loss you're willing to make seeing that you'd surely have to sell in a hurry. I'd buy the cheapest thing possible that's the least likely to break down. Which would also be tricky. Go for an older Commodore or Falcon in that case. Another option is car sharing - this was getting pretty ubiquitous in Sydney by last year but I haven't been back to Perth for a few years now to compare. – hippietrail Mar 19 '15 at 15:58
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    Is there any carsharing like Zipcar/Car2go? Depending on how frequently you need it that could be the cheapest option. – gerrit Mar 19 '15 at 16:10
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    @pnuts I feel your answer is fine. If it just includes the few extra bits about government fees, taxes and compulsory insurance for licence transfers which hire cars don't have. If you buy from a private buyer and get insurance locally there is not normally any sort of out-of-state increase (as there is no incentive to do so). I am originally from Perth and have bought and sold a fair amount of cars (as I seem to need one when I go home for any extended amount of time) and the things I mention have usually been the experience (or checked online at the DoT website you linked to). – The Wandering Coder Oct 3 '16 at 2:45
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+50

TSE tends not to like opinion-based questions but his one has a bounty so I think can't be closed except perhaps by a mod. However, there are some facts that might help you decide.

Taking just Europcar as an example the cheapest rental I have found for an Australian resident, over 26 years old, noon to noon, 1 to 30 November to and from Perth City is AUD 1,081.07 for a Nissan Micra Manual. This includes mileage of 4,350 km per rental, air conditioning, Administration Fees, Licences & Fees, Airport Railway Station and GST.

Taking carsales as an example the cheapest vehicle I can see for sale there is $1,200 for a 2003 Daewoo Lanos SE Manual with 216,160 km on the clock, aircon and a free 12 month warranty.

The price excludes Government taxes which I think are around 5%. So by the looks of it hiring would be cheaper unless you achieve at least $150 at resale plus however much you have to spend on a bought car that you would not have had to for a hired car.

You might be able to knock a little off the purchase price it you can negotiate away the one year warranty which presumably is next to no use to you. Doing so though risks a huge repair bill, though you could end up paying a huge mileage charge to the hire company if exceeding their allowance.

If either car needs attention during the month you are in Perth you are likely to be without wheels for longer if relying on a purchase rather than a hire. You may also lose time in advertising (and perhaps cost) and demonstrating the car for sale.

My guess is that if $1,200 is reasonable value now it would sell fairly easily for $600 in a month, but perhaps not for any more than that. If you have to abandon it I do not know the consequences by way of any fines for dumping.

It looks as though, for low mileage, you might save around $450 – more for high mileage - by purchasing, but be driving a less fuel efficient and older car, with more inconvenience. Inconvenience could include paying the tax and registering the car in your name (subsequently transferring it) and if not normally resident in Australia sales proceeds achieved just before you depart the country might incur a conversion fee. Leave it in your name and you might return to Australia to some hefty speeding fines, etc.

I know what I would choose but, as mentioned, we are not here to offer just opinions.

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    +1 for the research here. I think risk is an important factor as well. If you rent the car and something goes wrong, the company deals with it. If you own the thing and it breaks down (not that unlikely of an event with an older cheap car), you're stuck with it, and must either pay for repairs (which could easily be more than the car is worth) or find yourself another form of transportation. Insurance is another factor: the car rental will offer some kind of insurance (which may be rather expensive), but finding insurance on your own for one month may be difficult. – Zach Lipton Oct 2 '16 at 21:20
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    Don't forget that, when buying a car, one needs to pay for license plates. One may also have to buy mandatory insurance, although I don't know if that is the case in Australia. – Itai Oct 2 '16 at 21:24
  • I'd also question of you are comparing apples to oranges. EG a rental car will be low mileage – Peter M Oct 3 '16 at 1:38
  • @pnuts Most of the time when buying a used car there will be time left on the plates (this is usually written in the ad, else ask for it). If your deal on the Nissan Micra is still valid it seems by far like the cheaper option. Looking on places like Gumtree, Carsales.com.au and the Quokka sees the median price at around $2000~$3000 for anything decent. – The Wandering Coder Oct 3 '16 at 1:57
  • @pnuts Plates ARE the Vehicle Licence. A Vehicle Licence Transfer (ie. when a car is purchased) costs around $350~$400. Assuming the car also requires Compulsory Injury Insurance (which may or may not still be valid for the purchased vehicle - it is usually paid at the time of Vehicle Licencing is $409.35 (per-year only). So the car cost has already increased by about $800 that is without including things like insurance for anything else to do with your car (fire and theft, accidental injury, roadside assistance etc.). – The Wandering Coder Oct 3 '16 at 2:31
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Given the high probability of looses from sale / resale over the period of time, I would be inclined to rent, or seek out car share options if that suited your circumstances.

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For any one reading this thread. Just updating based on the recent rental car rental prices. I have calculated a the cost for one month for rental from one rental company where you can rent a manual car for $600 and an automatic car for $750. You might be able to get a better deal if you renting for more days. The price includes GST, Roadside assistance, car registration fee, service fees etc. So you don't have to worry about the fees. The cars you get are new and you don't have to worry about break downs. If you want to buy one from somewhere and if its a cheap one, there is a high chance of breakdown within a month.

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