This is a paid post.
One of my friends has recently gotten an internship in a distant city. She needs a car to get around – public transportation is woefully lacking for daily travel – and she doesn’t have a car to bring to this new city. So, her choices are to check out used cars for sale, buy a car for the duration of the internship, and then sell it later, or use a long term van hire rental.
I encountered a similar situation when I went on an internship in college. In that case, I rented a car because I didn’t want to deal with the hassles of buying and then selling a used car. But the a coworker bought a used car, which he later successfully resold at the end of the internship.
Rent a car if: you want a no-commitment vehicle. Many rental agencies will also offer you insurance, which may be in addition to or supplement coverage provided on your credit card / current car insurance (if you have it).
Buy a used car if: you can find a good deal on a reliable used car and expect to be in the area for a longer period of time. You might be able to sell the car for the same price you purchased it for, but you have to be prepared for the possibility that you can’t sell the car in a timely manner.