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  1. Default Long term rental vs purchase


    I know this has been discussed ad nauseum, however I have not managed to find a definitive answer. I am sorry to lambaste you with questions that have probably already been answered, but if somebody has an answer or can point me in the right direction:

    We are looking at a 6 month road trip through the US. We are not sure if it would be better to purchase an RV or to rent one. From what we can see on the posts it appears that for a long trip like ours, purchasing may be the better option. However it also appears to be a massive problem for non US citizens to take ownership of vehicles. If anybody has purchased a vehicle and has some advice, please could you let us know how you went about it and share any tips. If anybody favours renting the vehicle, please could you share your advice too so we can make an informed decision.

    Many thanks

    Rodger, Karen and young Richard

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Another Option


    You will not have any problems purchasing a vehicle. There are thousands out there who are willing to take your money. It is the registering and insuring with which you will have problems. I have been looking at this for almost a decade (not given up yet) but to date I can assure you, there is no known way of getting around this.... not even for a six month trip.

    On my regular six month long trips, each of which has totalled in excess of 20000 miles, the best I have done is driven vehicles owned by family members who live in the US.

    There could be a cheaper way to go than renting. I have heard good reports about them. I have not used them myself but did once investigate it before family loaned me a car.

    The one advantage of owning a vehicle is that you are free to go where you want, without restrictions. The disadvantage is that you are left with all breakdowns, repairs, etc. When renting, the renting company looks after you in such cases.

    Have a great trip

    Lifey who is still looking at buying

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default we're still looking too

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Financially, for a 6 month trip, purchasing a car would likely be more cost-effective than renting.

    The problem really is in the red tape. Its extremely difficult to license, register, and insure a vehicle without at least having a residence in the US. When you ask if anyone has purchased a vehicle, you ask a great question, and its one we've also asked here many times. The problem is, I can't think of anyone who has stepped forward to say yes they've done it, and explained how they've gotten by the red tape.

  4. #4

    Default Insurance

    I have had recent communications from one of the readers of my book (Live Your Road Trip Dream) about this very subject. Here is a bit of our correspondence:

    One problem we have encountered is trying to obtain insurance for our motor home and tow car. The motor home has been purchased and is registered (all taxes paid!) in California. The tow car we will be buying at the beginning of our trip in January. We joined the AAA last year and the advice we received was they would be able to sell us the insurance and use our UK driving licenses for our trip. When we went insure our new pride and joy in September they said they wouldn't issue insurance now without a Californian Drivers License! We have a copy of the California Driving terms and conditions and this says we don't need to get a California license as we are non residents.So it seems the AAA's insurance company is imposing it's own rules. Do you know of any insurance company that could help us? both of us have full UK clean driving licenses (40 and 25 accident/conviction free records respectively).

    Good news is the info you gave us appears to have been successful. We have spoken directly to Progressive and it seems California AAA has made it's own rules up about quoting for insurance and insisting on US licenses. We spoke this evening on the telephone to Progressive and they have quoted us for RV and Motor car insurance and are prepared to accept our UK license - result!
    I haven't heard back from them since then, so I assume that all went well with Progressive.

    Carol White
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-05-2010 at 04:40 PM. Reason: added the block quote for emphasis

  5. #5


    I am an 18 year old on my gap year and looking to do a shortish (2 month) road trip through some of america at the end of the summer after previous travels and before uni.
    I know it would be hard for me to rent a car due to my age and therefore I am looking to see if it is viable to buy one then sell it at the end. I have read this thread and it says there is a lot of red tape involved insuring lisencing etc and in one post I read that it was hard due to them not having a Californian driving lisence or something?
    I have American citizenship and a full UK driving lisence if this is any help? Would anyone be able to tell me of any of the problems I might face and whether economically it is worth it or should i scrap the idea?
    Thank you :)
    edit : I forgot to add I would probably be by myself for a bit then joined by either 1/2 friends with full UK driving lisences. We would probably be doing the U shaped loop. Thanks for the help

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default red tape

    Well, the previous post is about the only claim I've heard of any non-resident having luck purchasing a car - and even that post tells very little about how they got around the rules for licensing and registering a car. Meanwhile, we've had many people say they've tried for years and never been able to find a way to make it work.

    The fact is without having a US residence, it will be very difficult to successfully purchase a car, and then be able to get the license and registration needed to legally drive, and insure the car.

    However, you do have one thing going for you: Being a US citizen. In this case, it should be much easier for you to establish an address, and get a US drivers license. If you can do that, purchasing a car and insurance will be far easier than a non-citizen trying to do those things traveling on the visa waiver program.

    You can legally drive in the US with your British License, as can your friends, but I think you will find that simply on a practical level getting an American License will essentially be a requirement for purchasing a car.

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