I’m hoping that the community might help me with the following “problem”.
Currently we are a one car family. I am a PhD student who needs regular access to a vehicle for a 12 to 18-month period while I do my dissertation research. The research involves a regional commute to various field sites - driving every other day, often at night, in SE Michigan, max 250 miles/week. The good news is that I just received a large research grant from a private foundation that does not restrict how I use my research dollars. I have excellent credit and a spotless driving record. I had originally planned to rent a sedan from my university but it occurred to me that it might be more effective options.
Option 1: Rent vehicle from university at cost of $450/month (total: $5400 to $8100). No mileage limit. Maintenance included. Not sure about insurance.
Option 2: Buy a vehicle, which I could keep or sell afterward. If so, used or new? How much? What are good options?
Option 3: Lease for 24 to 36 months. For example, right now a Honda fit would be $136/month for 36 months or $5k for 3 years. 12k miles/year allowed before extra costs. During the winter and/or if I were approaching the max on mileage, I could use our family Subaru Outback and leave the subcompact for my husband for commuting around town.
known budget (no large maintenance in the next few years)
safety (we currently have a Subaru Outback, which I could use for hairy winter driving)
Thanks for your input!