After seven months of buses, taxis and trains (MRT) we broke down and bought a car.
As I have discussed in the past, cars are very expensive in Singapore. Part of the reason is that you have to buy a COE, a special license for the car.
The COE is only good for 10 years. After 10 years you turn the car back into a car dealer who then gives you back a portion of the COE (the government decides how much for each type, make and model of car and reimburses the dealer) and a little bit of money for the car body. The dealer then sales that car onto another country, usually Malaysia, or sells the car for parts. Therefore the only cars you will see on the road older than 10 years old are taxis which have different rules.
We did our research and priced out renting a car ($1400-$2000 sing dollars a month for the car which includes insurance and maintenance) and buying a car that only had a 1 1/2 – 2 years left on it’s COE. Every year closer to the end of the COE the less you pay. So you don’t have to pay for all 10 years just what’s left on the COE and what you would pay for a used car. It’s a bit confusing but we did the maths and even with maintenance, road tax (which you pay every year on top of the COE) and insurance if we got a 2005 car and drove it for the next 1 1/2 years or so until the COE ran out it would be cheaper than renting. Once the COE runs out next year we can get different used car for how long we decide to stay here in Singapore.
That all sounded good until we started looking. There a couple of places around the island that are basically used car malls. There a bunch of dealers with all their cars lined up next to each other. You go look and figure out what you want and who has it. We knew we wanted a 2005 car that had a COE until at least next Summer. I didn’t want anything too large because the parking garages and lots here aren’t made for big cars and I was a bit nervous driving here anyway (more on that later). Something that gave the girls plenty of room and that we could bump a lot of stuff in the back. Gas is pretty expensive so I wanted something that wouldn’t cost a fortune to drive. I wasn’t asking for much, was I?
We looked and looked so much my brain started to hurt. I think we may have over thought and looked it but in the end we got a 2005 Honda Airwave. It’s a small Honda station wagon that looks big and feels big inside but is really very easy to drive and park because it is small. It’s perfect for us.
No one was happier than the girls. No more two buses home from school for Ellie.
It has a very groovy whole roof sunroof that they love looking out.
Having a car has opened the whole island up to us. I was a bit nervous at first. Think driving in Northern New Jersey during rush hour, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car while being cut off by Maseratis, Benetly’s and Farraris. That’s what it feels like driving here. I think after a week with the car I’m beginning to get the hang of it but I don’t think I’ll ever master the Singaporean back into parking places trick (you can always tell the Expats in a parking lot they are the only ones that pull into parking places Singaporeans ALWAYS back into places).
There will be times that we still take taxis and buses and the MRT but mostly we will to be driving everywhere. Ken says having a car makes him feel like he actually lives in Singapore and with what we will be able to explore now I can see why he says it.