Short-term lease or buy and sell within 1-2 years?

This is a bit lengthy, so my apologies! Basically I’m looking for advice on whether it’d make more sense to lease or buy.

I recently sold my car (2015 GTI) with a trashed engine and am in need of a short-term car. Typically I buy a car (private party) and hold onto it for years; however, I’m transitioning to a WFH career in ~12-18 months and we will not need two cars after that, therefore I’m torn between leasing or buying due to the crazy market right now.

As Nissan seems to be the only manufacturer (that I’m aware of) doing 18-month leases, I’ve been leaning towards just leasing a 2023 Altima SV based on Nissan’s current incentive of $199/mo for 18 mo. with $3034 Initial Payment. I’ve never leased before and this seems at a glance like a decent deal for me, but after reading through a bunch of the forum posts and signed deals, maybe not so much? There is also the small print disclaimer of “Dealer Sets Actual Price,” so I’m 100% expecting a dealer to increase that price on me.

Alternatively, I’ve considered buying a new or recent ('19-'22) used car and kind of gambling on the future market with plans to sell the car within two years. I could also just buying a vastly overpriced older used car, which I’d rather not do. For now, I’m leaning towards leasing. While I’d prefer a sportier car, for such a short term I’m more than fine settling with an Altima, but if I could find a lease for something with a bit more performance for a little more money, I’d definitely consider it.

I’ve read a few “best leasing practice” guides and it all feels so over my head. I’ve played around with the LeaseHackr calculator and also became a super supporter to mess with the Rate Findr portion of it, but again, I feel lost. Per the Rate Findr lookup, a 18/10 lease for a 2023 Altima SV has a RV of 86% and 0.00289 MF. An 18/12 lease has an 84% RV. If I decide to lease, I’ve considered just paying a broker to handle negotiations for me as I haven’t dealt with a dealer in about a decade nor do I have the free time to do the whole back and forth.

A bit more about me:
*Located in northern VA, so apparently tax is based on selling price rather than monthly payment :frowning:
*Girlfriend works from home, but neither of us want her “trapped” at home if I simply use her car for the last year or so before I transition to a new career and move away from the DMV.
***My annual commute is ~10.4k/mi, so I may need to go to 12k miles, but we’ve talked about me simply driving her car for a week here and there to keep it under 10k. Alternatively, I pre-purchase more miles later into the lease.
*I can afford to pay for the entire lease at once if necessary
*Military vet, though I separated >12 months ago which, at least per fine print, sounds like it disqualifies me from a lot of the $500 incentives
*FICOScore8 of 784 (Experian), 795 (Equifax), and 800 (TransUnion); CreditKarma, which I know doesn’t mean jack in this case, has my VantageScore for TransUnion and Equifax both at 819

If there’s anything else that could help, let me know and I’ll share!

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There are a few Nissan brokers on this site that are offering pretty good deals on Nissans. Check out the Marketplace for more info.

Used car prices are still slightly inflated. Hence, I would strongly suggest against doing this right now.

What is your budget if you were to lease? (Monthly and due at signing)

Take a deep breath for starters. The good news is that you are here asking for advice - it means you want to learn from the experts.

That’s a good idea. Brokers offer pre-negotiated deals. All you will need to do is pay their consulting fee after agreeing to use their services.

Some credit card companies such as Bank of America, Citi, Capital One provide their customers with a free credit score every month. I’d pick any of those scores over one from CreditKarma.

Or better yet, if you use a credit monitoring service, you should be able to look up a copy of your credit score from one of the 3 reporting agencies.


Reach out to @AutoCompanion


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I honestly don’t have a set budget I need to stick to, but I’d like to keep it under $500/mo. As I mentioned, I’m fine with a typical commuter car since I just need it relatively short-term, so the $500/mo is ideally for more of a performance vehicle.

Besides Experian’s FICO Score 8 of 784, one credit card gave me a TransUnion FICO Score 8 of 800 and my other gave me a VantageScore that matches Credit Karma’s numbers. I don’t want to subscribe to a credit monitoring service at the moment, but I’ll keep it in mind in case that changes.

Thanks for your help!

Fyi, check out for a copy of your free Experian credit report and credit score.

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I’d lean towards buying something like a brand new Corolla, Corolla Cross, RAV4, CRV, etc.

Very high resale values, not just now but before chip shortages were a thing.

Also low TCO and reliable should you decide to keep it even after starting to WFH.

Edit to add: buy brand new


Although the nissan altima isnt really much of a sporty car, the exterior design for the 2023 SR AWD does look solid along with a nice looking interior. You can get that for 18 months and at the lease end, hopefully lease offers are better than what they are now along with lower used car prices. I’ve been eyeing leases for about 1-2 years now and the altima has been the most appealing to me thus far.

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Nissan has a problem with their CVT transmission…Im not sure if that has been fixed or not. My daughter bought a new Sentra, and, sure enough the tranny went out at about 40,000 miles just after the warranty expired. In Nissan’s defense, they fixed the tranny any way, and gave that tranny a warranty also, at no cost. Still they put another cvt in the car, just like the one that failed. Since you dont keep it that long you will be ok “except” your buyers will likely know this, and your resale values will be poor. Of course, with a lease you have a guaranteed resale value, (provided you keep the car in like new condition and dont drive over the leased miles, and of course maintain it), but dont throw away your equity just because you lease.
Its especially important to have a vehicle with great resale values (lease or buy) when you only planning on keeping the car short term.

For that reason, consider a camry or accord, instead, both of which have higher resale values. It should not make that much difference leasing for 18 months vs 24…now a days, you should have equity “at least” with a car that has strong resale values. Many popular new cars, which are hard to find new, can be bought (or in some cases leased) and re sold for more than a new one.

Unfortunately, the “market” which allows you to buy a new car for MSRP and then sell it for more, used, is disappearing, as used car prices are dropping.

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One more thing. Its a great idea, to shop the financing/leasing prior to buying the car. However, shop the car first, then the financing.
Its the buy here pay here trick…these dealers are almost always overcharging for the car, because you can get financing elsewhere. So, they are "selling’ FINANCING, oh, yea, it comes with a car, too.
So research a car that fits your needs, then find the best finance/lease deal to also fit your needs.
A great lease deal on a bad car is not a good deal for you, you are still driving a bad car.
You need a great lease deal on a great car.
I learned the hard way, to check resale values BEFORE buying the car.
I want to drive a car because I like it and it fits my needs. I dont want to be driving a car I hate because I have negative equity, and dont want to write a check for someone to dispose of my car.

If you have positive equity, you have great choices, and that comes with great resale values.

Car companies with great resale values: Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet Silverado TRUCKS. (Not chevy cars). Im a hybrid fan (I love good gas mileage) so that means Toyota camry/rav4 hybrid, Honda CRV/Accord hybrids. The Corolla hybrid has excellent resale value also, but was too small for me, and so I sold it for more than I paid for it new. (bot new in Jan. 22, sold in Aug. 22)

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Id be careful about assuming the used market craziness of the last year or so will continue on in to the future.


I am in the exact same boat dude. I contemplated leasing a Nissan for 18 months too, and @Autocompanion is best for that (given my past experience with him).
But settled on getting a discounted electric hybrid (as my daughter frowned when my eyes lit up on an Altima/Frontier no.s), so my hope is with some %off msrp and with the federal ev credit, when I sell after 1 year, even if I sell at 12% less of msrp, I come at even price, i.e. would have drive the car for free (including me paying for sales tax).
I am by no means a no. guy but that is what I thought, and also driven a reasonably nice car for that time


Learnt a lot from hackers here, with special mention to @mllcb42


What was the car and what were the numbers (MSRP, selling price, dealer fees and add-ons, etc)?

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msrp 50,195, selling price including incentives and tax - 50,447
after ev credit effective price will be - 44,611 (effectively 11% off the msrp is the starting point)

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Trying to keep the make/model a secret?

Mustang Mach-E?