Foreign Exchange Student getting a car!

I’ll be in Texas for a year as a foreign exchange student (J1 visa) and would like to get a car.

I’ll be staying from late August 2010 until late May 2011. I’m turning 21 y/o in September 2010 and I’m getting a Texas driver’s license upon arrival in August, since my country’s (Brazil) license isn’t valid for more than a month.

I’m totally torn, to be honest. Rent or buy?

A rental car would be a practical idea, since it already comes with insurance and the like. As for buying a car, it may consist in cheaper rates but I’m unsure on how to get proper insurance and on re-selling the car once my stay is over.

I was hoping for some sort of specific deal to accommodate my needs, but Mr. Google has let me down despite my FRANTIC searching for information on the matter.

I need help! : (

Stela, renting or leasing a car would be very expensive. I don’t know if it is possible to lease a car for one year or not. In my humble opinion, your best bet is to buy a cheap car, drive it for a year, and then sell it when you have to leave. Maybe you can contact a student group and get help from them.

Agree; the last foreign exhange student we helped in Texas bought a used, low mileage Chevrolet Cobalt and is happily driving it.

Maybe, if he is reading this thread, he can help her out.


I also think that since I’m a non-resident under a mere J1 visa I’m unable to lease a car for my lack of social security number. That’s what my research has showed at least.

Is that true, as far as you know? Just wondering.

The two things I know of that are important when leasing a car are credit history and proof of income. That’s for Americans. For a foreign exchange student, I don’t know what else they would need, if anything.

I seriously doubt if a Brazilian 21 year old in Texas can lease a car. Renting (short term)with a good enough credit card would be OK.

Stelaa, I’m sure you will end up buying an inexpensive used car.

Good luck!

How much are you willing to spend? It seems to me that you should pay cash for any car you buy so that you have few entanglements when you return home. It will be hard enough to sell the car when you leave. You don’t need to close out a loan, too. A short-term lease would be the least hassle. Here’s some information:

Do a web search for ‘short term auto lease usa’ and see what you find.

I would wait until I got settled on the car. If you are going to be in a large college town, or any of the larger Texas towns, public transportation may suit you, at least temporarily. Then you can assess whether you actually need a car for the duration, and take your time shopping for one.

Obtaining car insurance should not be a big deal – shop for insurance rates (might consider a company where you can talk to a real, local agent, rather than internet); explain that you are a foreign exchange student with a legal driver’s license; you have a local address good for the duration; and your rate will be the same as any new 21 year old starting out on their own. Most car insurance policies come in six month increments, renewable.

When my buddy visited from Netherlands, he bought an old Ford Crown Victoria, drove it for a year, then sold it - total cost: $500.

stelaa, where in Texas are you going to live? The Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth Metroplex area has a pretty good light rail mass transit system. If you will be in that area, you might be able to get by without a car.