Purchasing a Car in the United Kingdom

There are many things to think about when purchasing a car in the UK. Being a foreigner on top of being a student makes things a bit more tricky.. or rather expensive. Let’s look at practicality, affordability, and where to buy a car.


  • Practicality:
    • Public transportation is readily available in most major parks of the UK, and to many of the smaller cities. Though honestly, we have found that it is quite expensive for public transportation in the northern part of Scotland. Downside to public transportation.. You don’t get to go to all the cool smaller things in between each bus stop.
    • Renting a car in the UK is quite easy, and honestly super cheap if you are over 25. They get you with some seriously expensive insurance if you’re under 25 though. Renting a car means you only pay for it when you want to use it and don’t have to pay all the extra expenses like tax, insurance, and MOT (we will get more into those below).
    • Owning your own car means you get to go where you want when you want. Do you want to check out each little hidden gem between Aberdeen and Inverness? Or stop at Fairy Pools and Fairy Glen in Skye? If so then you’ll probably want a car to be able to make the small pit stops from point A to point B.. It’s more about the journey than the end destination anyways right?
  • Affordability:
    • Make a spreadsheet with the costs of traveling via public transportation and/or rental cars versus the costs of owning your own car. Keep in mind gas money, as well as when you would be sharing the cost of renting a car with your friends. Since we are going to be here for two years we decided to look at the two years and think of places we wanted to go during school breaks or long weekends. From there we decided when we would be using public transportation, and when we would rent a car. We also factored in picking up people from the airport (in hopes that people come and visit). Based on prices of cars alone, we concluded we would be saving loads having our own vehicle.
    • MOT– This is like your annual doctor check-up. It’s an annual exam on your vehicle in which the mechanic determines if your car needs work to stay on the road or if it’s fine for another year. The maximum cost for a check up is £54.85, and when they find something wrong with the vehicle you then have to pay to fix it before it can pass the MOT and be legal to drive. Find out more here.
    • Road Tax– This varies depending on the style and size of your car. You can check road tax prices here.
    • Car Insurance– This will vary for each person. The guy that owned our van before us literally paid less than a quarter of the price we have to pay to insure Jason. (Not having a UK driver’s license and being a student were two strikes against us with this one). Definitely do your research to try and find the best option for yourself.
    • UK Driver’s License– Once you have been in the UK for a year, you have to get a UK driver’s license to legally drive. This is quite the lengthy process, and from what we have heard is actually quite difficult and expensive. Find out more here.
  • Where to Find a Car:
    • Gumtree: This is the local website where people post things they do not want anymore. Be careful of scams!!
    • Ebay: The Ebay here works just like Ebay in other countries. There are quite a lot of cars posted on this for bidding and for buying outright.

When you find a car you like, check the registration of the car by entering the plate number and make of car here. This will tell you how long the MOT is good for and give you loads of details on the car itself.



Read about our UK van purchase –>> So.. We Bought A Van.. Surprised?!?! <<–




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