View Full Version : Leasing vs Buying a Car

June 28th, 2015, 08:56
Ok, so probably the biggest revelation at today's Q&A session in ATL was that it is possible to lease a car in Japan. The idea really appeals to me because according to the ALTs, it's usually zero down and if there are any issues with it, you just take it to the dealership and they take care of the problem with no additional fees. Also, you don't have to worry about shakken (from my understanding). My question is, why haven't more ALTs talked about leasing as an option? Am I missing something?

June 28th, 2015, 09:29
After year one, my 1995 Trueno was finished. I drove all around town trying to find someone to lease me a car and nobody would do it. I had an ALT friend who was leasing, but the lessor had a relationship with someone in the district who put them in touch. It was an "I have an extra car, and I want to lease it to the ALT" thing. Her payment was 2 men per month for the car and insurance. It never changed. She stayed for 4 years, and spent 960,000 on her car. I don't think it was a good decision financially, looking back. In three years, I spent a total of about 510,000 on my cars. Our cars were very similar. I bought my first one from my pred, and my second from another leaving JET.
I'm not saying it's a bad idea, especially if you want to stay only a year or two. I'm also not saying you can't find a lease. Just do some math beforehand based on how long you think you might stay, and realize that it might cost a lot more.

June 28th, 2015, 10:58
Maybe not all prefectures have a great leasing place? At least in Niigata there seems to be a guy that's just solidly known for dealing with ALTs.
As Bif mentioned, the math typically favors actually owning something. For me, the convenience of leasing in combination with the fact I came over with $600 won out. I pay ~$350/month for the lease and insurance. A white plate would tack on an additional 5000 yen. I admit that it's more expensive in the long run, but I have a lot of other expenses that make it very difficult to save up for a purchase. I drive down to the dealership twice a year to get my tires swapped. I blew out a tire once and had to deal with the expense of getting a new one and having it put on myself, fyi.

June 28th, 2015, 11:37
I paid for the car up front, had to pay for my own tires when I changed them, paid for shaken, and paid for maintenance like oil changes and a new serpentine belt. It's a bitch with major one-time payments. When I changed to my second car, I paid 200,000 for the car and abut 60,000 for shaken all at once. So you do have to shell out lots at a time. It may be way more convenient and practical to lease if you can, but it also gets less and less practical as the years go by. If you're staying for 3, 4, or 5 years (and obviously there's no way to know now), it would almost surely be better to buy.

June 28th, 2015, 21:30
I heard renting was an option which sounded much better than leasing to me. A guy in my prefecture rents for about $180 a month. I also heard getting a lease as a foreigner can be tough.

June 28th, 2015, 22:35
Leasing is probably good if you're only gonna be here for a year or two. Check with the local gaijin community for the best deals.

If you're gonna be here for longer (or try to be here for longer), look into buying for a slightly cheaper option (but be prepared for the lump-sum payments mentioned above).

Be careful! Don't get "trapped" into poverty. This is easy to do. You show up, buy a sh*tty car with too many kms (because it's cheap), end up paying for repairs, then buying a new car after a couple of years, but it's also sh*tty and has too many kms, rinse, repeat.

If you're going to buy a vehicle, buy a decent one that will last you for the duration of your stay in Japan/long enough to be worthwhile.

June 29th, 2015, 00:33
Wor. Take your time with this, everyone.

June 29th, 2015, 07:00
Renting/Leasing in Japan, when ALTs talk about it, is the same thing. A private individual has likely talked to a local garage, mentioned they have an old car they'd like to rent (or the garage has asked about their old car) and is now renting it at a fixed rate all included.

The only ALTs I know who have been happy with that situation when they left were the ones who could bike to their works during the summer, and rented only in the winter. Everyone else when they were done were basically kicking themselves over not having purchased.

June 29th, 2015, 08:31
If you live in a city where there isn't a need to drive every day or even every week, renting can definitely be a good way to go. But you have to balance the costs - insurance, tax, parking, maintenance, etc vs an all-in-one rental fee.

Like other said, leasing is an option - with the upside being the included maintenance/shaken cost. The downsides include the lease contract term (usually two years) and a the possibility of having difficulty establishing the lease (due to 1 year contracts or visa length issues.)

Personally, I'm about to scrap my crappy old yellow plate. I'll probably look around for a new, but similar car on the used market, because I don't know if I want to stay 1 or two more years...

smile and nod
June 30th, 2015, 16:00
I am currently renting through my ALT company. They take the costs (rental and insurance) out of my paycheck each month, amongst others. I plan on being here for at least three years (should things go well), so based on this thread, buying might be a better option for me? I have just emailed them per what the rental costs actually are, as during hiring interviews I was given only vague estimates. Will pop back in with the numbers once I've got them!