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I recently got a job that pays 25k€ a year (I get 1.5k€/month after taxes I live in a heavily taxed country). My company will pay me my master's and engineering degree that I begin in september at night almost every day. The thing is it is relatively far - 10km, I can do it by bicycle but in winter that may become complicated. The master's degree finishes in 2 years approximately.

I am considering whether buying a clunker car for between 1k€ and 5k€ (insurance can cost between 1k€ and 3k€ per year) or doing car sharing that can cost 20€ per day I would go to class (8€ for 4 hours of rent + 7€ for the kilometers driven) so the breakup would be:

Car sharing:

  • 17€ / month for city car sharing membership
  • 24 * 20€ = 480€ a month.

Total: 500€/month let's round it up.

Buying a car:

  • 5k€ one payment.
  • 3k€ -> 250€ a month for insurance
  • 60-70€ for gas
  • Probably 300€ a year for possible maintenance and repairs? (maybe I'm too optimistic?)
  • 15€/month parking tickets?

Total: approx. 568€/month (counting the cost of the car divided by 24 -> 2 years, remember this is a pessimistic estimate.)

Now, each approach brings benefits:

Car sharing is easier to find parking spots, I don't have to pay insurance or gas or help in case of an accident.

With my own car I can leave when I want for as long as I want, and have in general much more flexibility(except for parking spots). Though this seems a bit more expensive.

I am open for thoughts and suggestions!

If the question is too broad or not specific enough don't hesitate to comment so I can improve it.

  • I can see you are from Germany from your profile. Insurance should not be that expensive (for a cheap car)! I bought a car for 8.5k and im paying 700 per year (including tax) for comprehensive insurance - which is not neccesary. I think it should be possible to get insurance for < 500€. Otherwise ask your parents and let them get the insurance - this is often alot cheaper if you did not have a car before. You might also think about using public transportation (if available) or buy a motorcycle, scooter or e-bike – Flo Jul 8 '15 at 16:47
  • I assume you are early in your career. I think in both scenarios there is a possibility you will use the car for more than just commuting to school so the calculation becomes a bit more complex. – Eric Jul 8 '15 at 18:52
  • @Flo I'm actually in France. I have forgotten to change my profile. But yes insurance shouldn't be so different between our countries. You pay 700€ even if it's your first car? My parents don't live here so I can't ask them. – Joze Jul 9 '15 at 7:11
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It really comes down to this: How badly do you want your own car?

With either option, you are looking at spending a third of your salary on a car. That seems like a lot to me.

However, the big advantage with the car share option is that if you don't use it, it costs very little. So you can ride your bicycle when the weather is nice and save quite a bit of money. With your own car, you are paying almost the same amount whether you drive it or it stays parked. But if you plan on doing lots of driving besides just to school, you could save money by having your own car.

One other thing you haven't mentioned is risk. With your own car, it may break down, and you'll be responsible for fixing it. With the car share, repairs are someone else's problem.

My advice: You've gotten this far without a car. Use your bicycle when the weather is nice, and use the car share when it is not. In 2 years when you've got your master's degree, hopefully your salary will go up, and if you still want your own car, it will be easier to afford.

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