One of the first things you’ll need when you move to America is a car. Sure, there are places where you can (and should) do without – Manhattan, for instance. All in all, though, America assumes everybody owns a car, which translates directly into the typical distances you travel to get from anywhere to anywhere.

For the average American, the car is the second-largest expense they will make (the first one being their home). As such, it’s a really important choice, and you should think a lot before committing to anything.

Just kidding: grab your pile of cash and waltz to the nearest dealership. That’ll do the trick!

In all seriousness, car buying in America is fairly complicated. More complicated than buying a house, say, because there it’s almost automatic that you need a mortgage, which means the bank ensures that you don’t get totally ripped off.

With cars, the tension is between the dealer/owner, who wants to close immediately, and you, who should want to compare. In your disfavor, you don’t really like dealing with the buying, so you try to close as fast as you can and get a good deal.

So far, that’s true in the rest of the world, too. What’s different in America is that most people here buy cars with loans, which means they can afford a variable amount of car. When the best you can haggle is a $10 a month discount, you become less price-sensitive.

I would love to be cute and funny here, but you really need good directions. So no joking allowed.

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