Carvana Is Awesome + Cars Are Expensive

My spousal equivalent (SE) had a job promotion opportunity in 2021 that would require driving to work. A focus of our family decisions has been to have a pretty centralized area for daily activities (work, school, activities, residence, groceries, etc) for convenience, community ties, and cost so the need for a dedicated car for work transport was a pretty big factor in our decision on the job opportunity.

SE decided to take the opportunity and consequently we ended up buying a 2nd vehicle. We purchased a 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid from Carvana for $23,990 in early 2022. This vehicle purchase was the absolute best car purchase experience of my life and I would highly recommend checking out Carvana. I’m not really big into car finishes and features; mostly looking for good value and convenience so that might vary for others. I think it took about 15 minutes start to finish to select, purchase (including financing, registration, etc.) this vehicle. 10 days later I picked it up (about 10 minutes total, mostly for signing documents) and drove it home.

About a year after making this purchase SE got the opportunity to transfer back to a closer work location. Making the move was a no-brainer but we kept the vehicle, mostly because of potential uses for it – who knows when a friend might borrow, or a kid is sick, or the adults in the house just want to do something at the same time in different places. So we kept the second car until after being out of town for a month, and then not using the car for another month after returning we considered getting rid of it.

The anchoring effect was strong – we already had the car so moving from the current default took effort. But we decided to go ahead (and we’ll probably purchase another second vehicle at some point in the future, but who knows?).

How much did this modestly priced vehicle cost us over our ownership period? Approximately $667.46 per month. Probably on the low side, but I’m trying to be conservative to not inflate the actual numbers – I had to estimate for oil changes, repairs, gasoline, as we don’t track tightly.

Median household income in San Diego is $89,457 so to put in perspective, this sort of modestly priced used car would cost about 9% of the median household pre-tax income here in SD.

We sold the car on Carvana and again the experience was great – quick, simple, and easy. I’d estimate we took about a 15% discount to what we might have achieved trying to sell the car ourselves on Craigslist or other sites. We sold the car for $16,940 in September 2023, about 18 months after purchasing it.

Owning a car (or 2 or 5) varies between households, but the cost is pretty significant for the average household. Wanted to share our recent vehicle purchase and sale info.

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John P Anderson

Living in San Diego. I enjoy learning about environmental issues and connecting with good people that want to make the world a better place. Cheers!

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