NYC in July – By car to new horizons

Anna Budeyri

© Anna Budeyri

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The theme of this month is definitely “a car as a tool for new discoveries”. After a year in the US we finally managed to get our own car (buying a car as a process can be a separate topic for the post).

We had always wanted to buy a car but until now, there was always a reason to postpone the purchase: We did not get it in autumn since those were the first 3 months after our relocation and we were constantly busy with settling in and car became a second priority. During winter time we did not really feel the need to get our own car since we normally do not travel that much during winter by car. Once spring came, we got excited about getting a house (which we never got) and we prioritized the house over car. Then summer came and we said – that’s it. We were renting a car so often, we just had to get our own car.

Life changed completely as of first day with the car!! We did not expect it at all. We were frequent car renters over the past one year so we believed we knew exactly what the car purchase can give us. But we were mistaken. The top 3 “AHA”s were:

1. There are lots of amazing places within very short driving distance from our house.
When we were renting the car we were always going somewhere at least 2-3 hours away thinking that we can always explore closer places later with the bus or train. And it actually never happened. Amongst our top picks is Sandy Hook beach – this is a very long sandy beach which has amazing ocean water and not too many people. And the place is only 1 hour away.

2. Our dog can spend most of the time with us.
When we were going for a long distance trips, we tried to leave our dog at the day care since we rarely knew if the places we visited were dog-friendly or not. And we did not want to sacrifice the limited time we had with the car rental for the search of a proper places. Now, when we have unlimited number of days in front of us, we are not in a rush to try all the possible places and figure out which ones are dog-friendly. Our dog Abbie is in love with this plan!

3. Car is really convenient for grocery shopping.
In our pre-car life our choices for shopping, especially grocery shopping, were very limited. We had to shop in the near-by supermarket so we do not need to carry the groceries for more than 5 minutes. Obviously this was a forced choice and we were rarely satisfied with it. Now, we can shop whenever. During the first week, we visited a few large supermarkets, did the price/quality check and picked the one which we would like to stick for some time. The quality and satisfaction from our home-cooked meal increased drastically, so did our mood… :)

Those were the key positive changes we experienced over July. Of course, there are some drawbacks of having your own car:

We came here with the assumption that the cars are cheap in the US. Indeed the base price is low but when we started adding all the commissions, coverage, insurances, etc. on top, a considerable amount came together. This was especially true since our previous driving experience is not taken into account. For insurance companies, the person with 15 years of international driving experience is same as 18 year old driver with no experience. For many used cars annual insurance payment will be higher than the cost of the car.

On top comes the challenge of parking. In the area we live everybody parks on the street. There are no other options available. This means that the chance of getting an authorized spot after 10pm is very low. And we cannot leave the car in the same spot for more than several days due to road works (e.g. road cleaning), garbage removal, or something else. So when we travel out of town without car for several days, we have to park our car at the airport or other places away from our house.

While these are new challenges coming with the car, they are clearly minor compared to all the benefits we enjoy now.

I can’t wait to find out what else we will discover with our new mobility. I will definitely keep you posted.

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