July 23rd, 2007


The Mobility Dilemma

My car is still sitting in my apartment parking lot, inoperable. When we last tuned in, I had received an $850 estimate for the necessary repairs and chose not to make them. There was some hope of a quick and less than half the price repair, but nearly a month of later, said hope has vanished and I'm back where I was in June. I've been weighing options ever since, and no matter which way I think of them, they all feel wrong.

I could buy a new car now, or even get Justice repaired now and shop for a new car during the December to Remember or whateverthefuck year-end closeout sales. I've got very good credit, and would likely qualify for the teaser deal they throw out not expecting people to qualify for. The thought of taking on a car payment, however, gives me the shakes. Yeah, yeah, everybody has one I'm not a delicate flower bladdity blah, but I haven't had a car payment in over five years and I like it that way. I still have a sizeable student loan, and years of living on my own have made me nervous about taking on new big (and ongoing) expenses. Granted, now that I'm splitting the rent with Evan, I have more money than I have in a long time, but I was hoping to get rid of my credit card debt, which, all things considered, isn't that bad, but I'd like to have a savings account that does more than save my ass from bouncing a rent check. But cars are fucking expensive. I don't really care about car makes or having a flashy car or anything like that. I just want one that doesn't say "old" and doesn't say "kid". Since I haven't considered a new car for so many years, I had little to no idea what car I would want if I found myself in this position, and I definitely don't want to spend that much money on something I'm not really jazzed about. I have since fallen for the Mazda3, which is adorable, age appropriate, and at about $16,000 not exorbitantly expensive.

I could buy a used car. I'm pretty gentle on cars, especially lately, now that my commute is 3 miles each way. Seeing as I currently have a 12 year old car and would be perfectly happy driving it for the indeterminate future, I could make an older car last a pretty long time. But used cars are fucking expensive too. Through various people willing to lend me money, I'd be able to buy about an $8,000 car without having to get a bank loan. But then what's another 8 grand when I'm already investing that much? A new car will probably be more reliable and less of a gamble, even though the stakes are lower. But not really low enough to risk. I spent all weekend looking at used cars, and there were three that fit what I wanted. One was a total scamjob, the other got snatched up before I could look at it, and the third, a 2004 Mazda3 which is on eBay right now, has a reserve of $7,800 (we went to drive it yesterday and talked to the dealer), needs all new tires, an alignment, and the cover for the taillight replaced. There's some crazy story about how they sold it to someone, didn't reveal that it had an axel replaced, so they had to buy it back when the customer found out, and now they're selling it at a loss to get rid of it. It seems like a great little car with about 70,000 miles, but now I'm all freaked out buy the axel thing and how they're trying to dump it. And at this rate, I'm going to have to get Justice fixed anyway since it's taken me so long to look at just three cars, this search could take forever.

Then there's the third option that seems the most of out of left field, but the least expensive. I could get Justice fixed, and then get a Vespa. It seems too frivolous for words, but again with a 3 mile commute, it might just work. I would save an assload of money on gas, used ones on Craigslist are about $3,000 or less (bunches of people got them when they lived in the city and now need to dump them that the live in the sticks). Justice would be used only in the rain or the winter and when I need to carry stuff, and it would be damn fun to have a Vespa. I probably would need to get a motorcycle license if I want one that goes up to 40mph, and that might take some time, but I'd still be fixing Justice for the rain and stuff so I wouldn't be relying on Evan to get me everywhere. Every time I think that this option is completely insane, I think about how maybe it's not so bad after all. It's the cheapest, and the most fun, but seriously? Can I really get by on a Vespa? I guess I theoretically could get by without motorized transportation at all, so a Vespa is better than the bus. And I wouldn't be expecting to use it in the snow.

So I have no idea. If anyone read all of this and thinks the answer is right in front of me, please let me know. I'd love to hear any input anyone's got.
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