Don’t Doctors Drive BMW’s

Each week I show up to work focused on my patients and getting my work done. I’ve been at my job over half a year, which apparently is enough time for a large number of people to know what kind of car I drive. I recently had an encounter with a fellow physician and nurse that took me by surprise. They both commented on what kind of car I have and somewhat jokingly asked if I “Know that I am a Doctor.” Apparently, the car that I drive did not fit into their ideal for what a doctor should drive. But what kind of car should a doctor drive?


Taking Duke for a ride


The Physician Parking Lot

The physician parking lot at the hospital I work at is a dichotomy of luxury cars and practical cars. The favorite luxury cars among the doctors are BMW’s, Mercedes, Maserati’s, GTR’s, and Porsche’s. The other cars in the parking lot mimic many of the average cars on the road. These include Toyota’s, Fords, Chevy’s, and Nissan’s.

I drive an average car. A Ford Escape from 2009, an 8-year-old car.

It seems that the nicer the car you drive, the quicker word will spread around the hospital. One doctor bought a new Maserati and decided to drive it to work. It was a matter of hours before this car was the topic of discussion of all nurses stations and the doctors lounge. Cars like this are meant to build attention. It sure did the trick


Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation

Cars are deprecating assets. Spending money on a loan to buy a car that will be worth less one year from now is a lose-lose situation. Yes, I get transportation out of the deal. However, I pay interest each month to have an asset that deprecates with every additional day.

New doctors such as myself graduate with a lot of student loan debt. I could go to the bank and get a car loan, but at the cost of extending debt repayment for months to years.

Recently I started to pick up extra shifts to pay down my debt. I recommend it to everyone. It’s the single greatest reminder that spending habits have consequences. Each shift is a reminder that if I would have spent less, I could have spent this time working doing things that I wanted to do instead.

Spending money beyond a regular salary budget requires selling my time, energy, and life for a relatively small amount of money. To me, having an expensive BMW or luxury car may be nice to have, but it’s not worth picking up extra shifts at this point in my career. Now, If I had a million dollars in cash, then I would reconsider things.


I’m Glad That Other People Are Buying Nice Cars

I don’t have any problem with the person who decides to buy a nice car. I don’t know the financial status of the physician who bought the Maserati. For all I know he could be worth millions. To him, that car purchase may have been a very small part of his net worth where it was easily justified. It’s not my place to judge if that purchase was right or wrong.


Avoiding Living Up To How Others Think You Should Be Spending Money

The nurse who asked me if I knew I was a doctor asked a very powerful question. Some people judge based on flashy appearances, material possessions, or what their idea of being rich means. I think that the biggest factor in happiness is accepting how I choose to live my life. Buying a nice flashy car would be fine if that was something I cared deeply about. But, buying the car to live up to an image that other people have of doctors would be a wrong reason to make such an expensive purchase. Doing things to impress others will rarely work out in your favor.

Drive whatever car makes you happy, as long as it’s within financial means for your budget. I’ll treat this car just like the last car I owned. Finally sold it when it has almost 200,000 miles and was needing more in repairs than it was worth.

If buying a nice luxury car is a choice you choose to make, do it for the right reasons, not because it’s what might be expected of physicians to drive.




7 thoughts on “Don’t Doctors Drive BMW’s

  • March 17, 2017 at 10:11 AM

    Now that I’m financially independent I upgraded from my usual used Toyota Camry/Honda Civic to a used Ford Hybrid. I’m a little jealous of the breast surgeon who drives a Tesla sedan, but not enough to go out and spend as much as house!

    • March 17, 2017 at 11:13 AM

      If I was FI, I would be tempted to go out and splurge on a newer car since it gets old taking it in for things that keep breaking.Congratulations on the upgrade and reaching FI!

  • March 17, 2017 at 11:10 AM

    I hear you. I sometimes get surprised looks when people find out I drive a Subaru Impreza, a 2002 one to be exact. I agree in that you should live life by your standards and not someone else’s.

    • March 17, 2017 at 11:16 AM

      Thanks. I was kind of shocked that people knew what kind of car I drive and that they were judging me for it. Not everyone has the same purchasing priorities in life. At this point I’m choosing savings, investments, and debt repayment over buying large items such as a new car.

      One of the pulm/cc guys that I’ve become good friends with drives a Subaru and tells me that he couldn’t be happier with his choice of car.

      • March 17, 2017 at 7:19 PM

        I love my Subie! It got me to and from Tahoe multiple times back when I used to snowboard more frequently. It also got me through nine years of Chicago winters during med school and residency.

  • March 26, 2017 at 2:43 PM

    I have a friend who’s a surgeon, and he makes a point of driving a Porsche. Being single, he needs to let all the single ladies who that he’s “available”. Pretty funny guy though.

  • November 10, 2019 at 6:02 PM

    You have one life, do what you want. You wanna be conservative, go ahead. You want to buy a Porsche, go ahead. So you are doctor and you want to be all geeky and stuff. Who cares, this article is stupid. My barber drives a bmw. Loan or no loan, who the f cares man. Be you and get what you want. Us doctors are trained gossipers and shallow. So what, if there is a Maserati parked outside.


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