Expats Relocating to the US. Should you Buy or Lease?

Shopping for a vehicle

Getting a vehicle for your relocation to the US will be important as it is a necessity to have a car in most parts of the country. We’re sure you’re imagining getting behind the wheel of a shiny new car with its unforgettable new car smell. You probably can’t wait to connect your phone to the infotainment center and listen to your favorite song. 

As for many expats, this may be your first time in the US so there are many things to consider when selecting a vehicle that will fit your needs.

Woman behind wheel of vehicle

Decisions, Decisions 

As an expat, getting a vehicle in the US is one of the biggest purchase decisions you will have to make. While selecting a new vehicle can be very exciting, first, you need to decide whether it is better to buy or lease your vehicle.  

Naturally, there are pros and cons to both options. Your decision will be based on many factors.

Finance or lease your next vehicle

Your Stay in the US 

The duration of your assignment in the US is one of the first factors to consider. For expats on long assignments or permanent stays, 3 years or more, purchasing your vehicle is a good option as it has the lowest total cost of ownership. 

If your relocation is for a shorter job assignment, 2-3 years, you may want to lease a vehicle with an option to extend, if your stay is prolonged.  

For assignments a year or less, renting a vehicle may be the best option for you. 

Other Important Considerations 

Another factor to consider is price. If a low payment is your priority, lease payments are often lower than loan payments. That’s because you aren’t paying off the vehicle’s full purchase price. Even though you are paying less each month, there is zero equity with this option. You are unable to sell or trade-in the car in the future.  

If you finance to buy the car, once you sell it, you’ll get back some of the money spent on loan payments which in the end you will have spent less money overall.

Calculating your options

You Do the Math

It’s essential to know how many miles per week you will be driving. 

Leased cars come with mileage restrictions – typically 10,000, 12,000 or 15,000 miles. If you exceed those mileage limits, you will quickly rack up about $0.30 for each additional mile at the end of the lease.

Buying A Car In the US

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line when you make the decision on whether to buy or lease your vehicle in the US.  

Financing/Buy Your Vehicle

  • Financing refers to taking out a loan to pay for the car.  
  • Customers own the vehicle at the end of the term. 
  • The vehicle has value once the loan is paid and you own it. It can be sold or used as a trade-in for a new vehicle.
  • There isn’t a mileage restriction on a car you finance.
  • You will not incur costs for excess wear and tear, but it will most likely lower the vehicle’s trade-in or resale value


  • Leasing allows you to drive a new car with lower monthly payments than financing.
  • You are only paying for the vehicle’s depreciation during the lease term, plus interest. 
  • Customers must pay any overages in mileage on the vehicle. 
  • Lease terms are typically between 24 and 36 months.  
  • At the end of the lease, you have the option to purchase the car with additional financing or leasing or buying another vehicle. 

International AutoSource

As the vehicle expert for relocating Expats, International AutoSource (IAS) offers flexible vehicle solutions and financing without a local credit history. Get tips and learn what to expect to make your move as seamless as possible.

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