Growing up in Georgia, I didn’t know there was such a thing as being able to live without a car. Georgia is just a car culture… as are most places, other than highly-developed urban areas. I had a car in Chicago until 2010 when I decided I didn’t need one anymore. And I didn’t. Chicago (along with Boston and New York) has some of the finest public transit around. And, if the trains and buses didn’t suit you, then there was a huge network of cabs at your disposal. Technology (with various apps- Bus Tracker, Uber, etc.) made public transit and cabbing even MORE convenient… and for those times when you really needed a car, Chicago also had a great car SHARING service-you read that right- of which I belonged.
California, however, is most definitely a car culture. And, although the city of Los Angeles ALSO has a public transit system, it’s layout isn’t as conducive for Jojo and I and our future plans. Like Marta in Atlanta, I’m sure it works great for SOME lucky people… but Jojo and I knew that we were going to need to get a car soon after our arrival in Cali. As I mentioned, I’ve had a car since I was 16. Jojo on the other hand, has not had a car SINCE he was 18. He went to college in Chicago and never really had the need for one. So the prospect of buying a car (in addition to starting a new job and moving to a new state) was really stressing him out. High-pressured sales tactics are probably Josh’s least favorite thing- other than vegetables– So, when it came to buying a car, I suggested CarMax.
I’ve known a lot of people who have had great success with CarMax- both on the buying and selling end. Their tagline is, “The Way Car Buying Should Be.” And I have to agree. The sticker price is the price of the car… bottom line. There is no haggling or “lemme talk to my manager”-ing and they guarantee that the car you purchase won’t be a lemon. They let you test drive vehicles you like AND their financing rate was significantly lower than the one that Josh’s bank offered him. We went to CarMax on a Thursday and tried out several different options within our requirements (four door, gas-efficient, hatchback, auxiliary jack) and decided on a Nissan Versa. Our decision was based on practicality and aesthetics. We had done SOME research (which is another great thing about CarMax… their entire inventory is browse-able with super detailed pictures), but really were less picky about other things. The model we test-drove was white and that really wasn’t the color for which we were hoping. But you know what else is great about CarMax? They had the exact same car in silver at another of their lots and had it shipped over for free. By Tuesday, that car was ours. There was no up-selling, or slimy tactics… and as Josh nor I are “car-people” with any knowledge as to mechanics, these are things we appreciated. This post is basically just a big love letter to CarMax. They did right by us, and have my continued recommendation. Here is Josh and his new car:
It is a 2011 model with 31,000 miles on it that was previously in a rental car fleet in Hawaii. As Josh was born in Hawaii, that seemed like a good omen. And although we were pleased with our decision, we were even more tickled when a friend of our sent us this article on the “10 Cheapest Cars to Own” with the Nissan Versa topping the list. We were even more clever than we knew! So far, so great! It may not be a schmancy luxury car, but for Josh’s first-car-ever, it fits the bill.
As my budget isn’t as vast as Josh’s, I have been cruising Craigslist recently looking for a car and the uncertainty of the market is terrifying. As soon as I get a real job, guess where I’m going?
Have you been to CarMax? What was YOUR experience? As always, let us know!