Long term car rental or buy a car?


I would like to know your opinion if it is better to either rent or buy a car when we need it for about 10 weeks. Renting is relatively expensive so I was wondering if it can be a good option to buy a used car and try to sell it later. We are also considering to stay in Panama every year for a longer period every winter. It should be a reasonably sized family car or SUV.

Buy a car here. Better yet a 4 wheel drive. Honda CRV, Toyota Rav 4's and Nissan are easy to buy used.

Try this site for pricing:

https://www.encuentra24.com/panama-en/c … s-used-car

If in Boquete, Keith Woolford the car guy is your man to help you buy a car.

Lo Siento, but we do not believe you need a 4 WD car. We went through 3 of them in 5 years, before giving up and buying a 2 WD. Used cars fall into 3 categories in our opinion. Anything at $5,000 or less is going to be a money pit. Anything between $5,000 and more than 2 years old is problematic. A car that is 2 years or newer and has been owned by an Expat has the best chance at NOT being a Money Pit. Just our opinion. The only reason that you would need a 4WD is if you are going to live somewhere that has dirt roads vrs paved roads. Plus bigger is NOT better, just uses more gas, has more expensive tires and repairs. Buena Suerte!

To rent or buy tough choice. I have the same decision. We spend 3 mos a year in Panama. I decided renting was the better choice. Leaving a car for nine months in Panama sitting is not a good idea.  Routine maintenance, annual registration and insurance needs to be dealt with. I don't know, but routinely buying and selling a used car from private sellers seems to have it own set of problems.  We rent a compact for about 700/month. Expensive yes, I view as a lease solution.

buying a car would be the best option. You could find second hand cars in very good state and good prices. I agree with @sunnymikkel and it would not be necessary to have a big car, only if you are going to live in an unpaved location.

Hi Lauke,

I sent you a private message already but want to comment on few things after reading all the replies below.

1. Yes, you need an 4x4 if you don't live in the big city or you're planing to travel around Panama. We live in Bocas del Toro and a 2WD is not an option here. 

2. Cars cheaper than 5000USD and older than 2 years aren't necessarily problematic. It just depends who was/were the previous owner(s). Our Montero is from 1999 and we bought it from a Panamanian owner. This gentleman has been taking great care of the vehicle and replacing things when needed, so we got a vehicle in a great shape. Furthermore he was using it exclusively in the city which is also something to consider. In the past 7-8 months we haven't had any mechanical issues except for replacing two door handles with new ones. 

3. Buying a car from a private owner takes approximately 3-5hours to finalise all the papers, depending on queues (any fine tickets have to paid in advance, so you're safe). Annual mechanical check ca. 50USD, annual plate ca. 50-80USD (if you don't live in PTY and pay someone to go do it for you), annual insurance depends on coverage but you can have a good one for less than 200USD. 

In my opinion buying a car is the better option and you can always leave it with some nice expats to look after it while you're gone (our neighbours for example do it for people).

Good luck!

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