Once the kids fly the coop, it’s a time of change for parents. For many it can be a time to do things they’ve dreamed about doing – traveling or resuming a sport or hobby they’d set aside.
While some might dream about what they’ll do, others dream about what they’ll drive. A family car, SUV or mini-van might have been essential while the kids were still living at home, but parents find they can begin looking at smaller, more performance-based cars now. According to Bankrate.com, choosing a car as an empty nester can be very different from shopping for a family cruiser.
One of the greatest changes for the empty nester is that this is, quite likely, the first time in years that you’ve been able to think about buying a car specifically for your needs.
It’s no longer about how much sports equipment you’ll need to haul around or how many kids are going to pile in for a family vacation. It’s going to mean asking yourself an entirely different set of questions as you set out to buy.
Are we there yet?
For some, the idea of buying a car you want – instead of focusing purely on necessity and practicality – takes some getting used to. But the fact is, your living space isn’t the only thing you can look at downsizing once your children strike out on their own. This might be the time you start seriously looking at that sporty two-seater you’ve coveted since the moment you installed a child safety seat in your minivan.
Or you may have fewer day-to-day expenses, this could be the time you consider a luxury car. If it’s been a while since you’ve shopped for a car that didn’t have to include kid-friendly amenities, you might be surprised to find just how all-encompassing the luxury market is.
Where to begin
With so many options available to you, just defining what you want is a good start. Remember that what you want and what you need may be two different things; you might have to put some thought into both of those areas before coming up with your final answer.
Tim Shults, president of the Shults Auto Group in Jamestown, N.Y., says evaluating your needs, post-children, can be very different. In Newswheel.com, he wrote that some factors for empty nesters to consider are:
Technology: It’s a different world out there, particularly if you haven’t looked at new cars for a couple of years. Read up on the available technology and make sure you’re not buying more than you’re going to use. “GPS in your infotainment system would be incredibly helpful when you get lost, but you might not want to load up on all the latest tech that could distract you,” says Shults. Do your research ahead of time so you know what you do (and don’t) want.
Safety: Car safety features seem to be improving every day, and that’s reflected in the drop in the number of deaths caused by car accidents as technology improves. Sensors can help notify you when you’re out of your lane or have another car beside you; they can also help you back up and parallel park. “Take advantage of the sensors and cameras offered nowadays,” Shults advises. “Collision avoidance can save your life.”
Visibility: Making sure you have plenty of visibility is key in shopping for a new car, and with so many more options available to you it’s important to make sure you can see what’s around you. Take your time and test drive different models to see what feels best for you. Better visibility equals safer travels.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for empty nesters when it comes to buying a car. Some may want to buy a restored version of the car they longed for when they were teens and couldn’t afford; others may want the latest and greatest. Whichever route works for you, make sure you do your homework.
As your car needs change, your car insurance needs change too. Make sure you’ve got the right protection on the road and, most importantly, remember to enjoy the ride.