We have a Ford Focus. It’s a cute car, and I’ve grown attached to it–actually, it’s a he, and his name is Grover (see?)–but it’s not a car that handles particularly well in winter weather, which Anchorage has more of than Pittsburgh or DC. It’s also not a car we’ve paid off fully. We owe a little more on it than Kelley Blue Book says we can get, trading it in. (Only a little. This month and next month’s payment should bring it down to just about equal, if we make those payments in close enough succession.)

I’d really like to get some sort of AWD/4WD vehicle with a roof rack–the roof rack is more because I want to go canoeing regularly than because of the extra cargo space during the move, but both are definitely considerations. :D Dale wants to make sure it has a trailer hitch, as well, which I agree would probably be good. There are a number of smaller SUVs and crossovers that would work fine, though I’m kind of in love with the Pontiac Vibe and Subaru Forester.

But when do we make the purchase?

Anchorage has no sales tax, but cars there cost a bit more, I’m told. The cheapest thing, if it’s doable, might be to buy a car (new or used–as long as they’ll take the Ford on trade-in) down here, with proof of Anchorage residency (so I’d have to find at least a short-term place to rent up there), so that I can get the PA price and AK lack-of-taxes. There’s kind of a lot of juggling that has to happen, though. And a friend of ours claims you shouldn’t drive a new car day in and day out, the way I would be doing if I bought something and then drove to Alaska…

So maybe I drive Grover up to Alaska. There’s enough space for the birds and some of our stuff–not as much as I’ll want to fit, but that would have been true of even an Escalade (which was never on the table), honestly.

There’s one other wrench in the works of this whole thing: Dale’s not coming up when I do–we have a second car, an old Honda that will probably be purchased by his little brother shortly before Dale boards the plane to Alaska. (So there’s going to be insurance hoop-jumping.) Grover–or, rather, the loan on Grover–is in both of our names. This means, if I understand the law, that I’m not legally authorized to sell that car while I’m up there, since we’re not married. Now, there’s a good chance he’s coming up in December, but that’s well into the winter weather. And he might fly out with Ella the chinchilla in late September–our landlord has been taken in by the exterminator’s anti-small-pet rhetoric and wants all of our pets gone as soon as humanly possible–which would free us up for some car shopping together, but, wow, what a lame way to spend a week’s vacation. I’d rather show him all the cool stuff in town!

I mean, I could just keep the Ford through the winter, live on the bus route (man do I hate buses in winter, though), and time all of my grocery shopping and other trips based on when the roads are plowed. By all reports, they do a fine job of that in the city. And I can get winter tires. It might be all right. We might be able to pay down the rest of the way on this vehicle and buy a new or used 4WD vehicle for next winter.

I’m honestly not sure what’s the best approach. Any thoughts, anyone? (I think I turned off comment moderation, by the way. I hadn’t noticed I had it on! If it still tries to moderate your comments, let it, and I’ll let everything through, while I try to find the right setting… still getting used to WordPress, here. :))