How to Decide Whether to Ship Your Car Overseas
For many Americans, one of the toughest things about moving overseas is ending the love affair with the car. In many urban areas, and in many small villages throughout the world, owning a car is more hassle than it's worth. That's far from a universal truth, though. In more remote areas, a car may be a necessity. So, when should you ship your car overseas, and when should you leave it behind? It depends. Ask yourself a few questions first:
Where are you moving?
If you are moving to a place where a car is not necessary, leave it behind. Gasoline prices are rising across the world, and by comparison, it's very inexpensive in the United States. If you're moving to Scandinavia, for example, you could see gasoline prices approaching $8.00 a gallon. That should be incentive to learn the public transportation system, or at least to trade in that gas-guzzling SUV for something more energy efficient.
How long are you staying?
If your relocation is temporary, perhaps you're a student or a diplomat, you're probably better off storing your car in the states. It costs about $800 to $2,000 to ship a car overseas (can be more in remote locations). If your stay is temporary, you'll have to do that twice. If your stay is permanent and it's convenient in your new home, take your car. Keep in mind that you'll pay from $50 and up to hundreds a month for storage, depending on your location and the type of storage. That could add up if your overseas stay is for more than a few months.
How much do you love your car?
If you drive a classic car, or one that's difficult to replace, by all means, take it with you. If, however, you drive a fairly modest car, without much sentimental value, it's probably not worth it. You can purchase a car in your new location, and you might find one that's better suited to the roads and living conditions. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that stick shifts are the common mode of transportation in many other countries. It might be difficult finding an automatic transmission. If that's important to you, you may consider transporting your car.
How much do cars cost in your new home?
Take a look at the exchange rate and do some online car shopping before you decide. You might find that with the exchange rate, buying a new car is cost prohibitive. You should also keep in mind that many things Americans take for granted, such as air conditioning, are considered luxuries in other countries.
Cars, perhaps as much as any other material possession, are personal. For many, they are part of an identity. For others, they invoke memories of first dates, first babies, and family vacations. Whether your car has seen better days, or if it still has that new car smell, your decision to move your car is all yours.