We take certain tasks for granted when we perform them in our country of origin.
Like buying a car.
Never exactly a pleasant task, it's one that is simple enough when you do it where you've always lived. So when I had to buy a car here in Calabria, I was a little nervous about what that process would look like and whether my Italian would be up to snuff.
Where to Find a Car
Just like in the United States, you have several options when it comes to where to buy a car.
At a dealership
From an individual (through Facebook Marketplace or Subito, which is like Craigslist)
From an online vendor
My first car I bought from my American friend, so that was fairly easy. This time around, I chose to buy a car online from AutoHero. I'd sold my car in California using Carvana, so I was eager to see if the online process was as streamlined here in Italy.
A Note on Financing
I went back and forth about whether to apply for a car loan here in Italy or a personal loan in the U.S. that I would convert to Euros. The interest rate on loans in Italy was around 8%, which seemed high. But I decided to proceed to establish my credit here (though I don't even know if that's a thing the way it is in the U.S.)
What I found out was that I wasn't eligible for a loan because I hadn't yet filed my income taxes. Especially for self-employed people, you'll need to be able to demonstrate your income, and a tax return is the primary way to do so.
So that was a dead end.
The AutoHero Experience
AutoHero works as you might expect. You can search through the inventory based on criteria like make, model, color, year, price, features, etc.
I already knew I wanted a Fiat 500. The Fiat Bravo I'd had was...and I can't believe I'm saying this, given it was a hatchback...a bit too big for me here. Occasionally I find myself driving through ancient, narrow streets, and I always break out in a sweat, worried I'll scrape my car on ancient stone walls!
Plus parallel parking is sooo much easier with a tiny baby car, as my mom calls it!
Once I found the car of my dreams, I added it to my cart. Yep. Just like a sweater or a book!
I also wanted to sell my car to AutoHero. While I might have been able to ask for more if I sold it to an individual, I didn't want the hassle of having to field calls and set up appointments to talk about a car with my nonexistent Italian car vocabulary.
I did shop around with other online vendors, and AutoHero offered me the best price for my trade-in. All I had to do was input the plate number, answer a few questions, and take pictures of scratches and damage.
Once I placed my order, I was contacted by AutoHero several times to confirm details. Several of the customer service reps spoke English, but I did pretty well with my Italian!
NOTE: I wanted to make sure I had all the documents I'd need for the sale, so I reached out to AutoHero to tell them I didn't have an Italian driver's license since I was a foreigner. They just asked for my permesso di soggiorno, so I uploaded a file with my card image.
Though the information initially said my car would arrive within a week, it took another week before there was a driver available to deliver it.
My New Baby Arrives!
AutoHero gave me a two-hour window for the delivery of my new car, but the driver called at the start of that period to let me know he was on his way.
He did an inspection to make sure my car was valued at what I'd been told. It came in about €60 less than I was quoted, so I sent an instant payment to cover that.
Once we took care of the trade-in, he rolled out my new, shiny car from the back of his truck, handed me the keys, and wished me well.
What Comes Next
One thing I really liked about AutoHero was that it offers a one-year warranty. So I have the assurance that if something goes wrong, I'm covered.
I also had 21 days to decide whether I wanted to keep the car (I do!). If not, I could return it without any fees.
After this period, I'll get the title in the mail. I did have to go within two days to a car registration agency to surrender the title to the old car. That took all of five minutes.
All in all, my experience buying a car in Italy was painless and easy. And now I have the cutest car in the world!