Cars are one of the most obvious status symbols out there, but not many people think about why that is.
The car you drive seems to say more about you than the home you own in many situations, we will discuss in this article why that is even if the home, in theory, is way more expensive than the car.
Before going further, I want to say that I’m from Romania, Eastern Europe, and you can see in this article that Eastern Europe is more prone to consider the car you have as a status symbol. However, I traveled quite a bit, and I lived in the U.S. for several months, and I can say that cars are considered a status symbol everywhere, maybe a bit more in poorer countries which is sad, but the reasons for why the car is considered a status symbol applies everywhere.
I know the guys from Top Gear visited Romania, and they were surprised by how many luxury cars we have for a country that is not so rich.
Why is a car considered a status symbol?
Cars are considered a status symbol, especially because they can be quite expensive, which signifies that you are doing well financially.
Many people say that car is no longer a status symbol, and this is true. Having a car doesn’t necessarily show that you are successful, but what car you have does, so the only thing that changed is that now the focus is on what car you drive, not on the fact that you drive one.
When cars were invented, they were much more expensive on a relative base, and not many people could afford to have one. Also, not many people had jobs that were as far away as people have today.
Nowadays, a car is a necessity for most people but not a luxury car. In this article, we talk about people who want to show social status by buying luxury cars(Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, etc.) or at least the brands associated with wealth like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and so on.
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5 Reasons cars are considered a status symbol.
I will list here five important reasons why cars are considered a status symbol, but you will notice that most of them actually come from insecurities and wanting to impress other people, so I don’t want to encourage you to think that you need a better car to get respected.
As I said in the beginning, many times, people consider the car they have more of a status symbol than their house. This is the most important reason why that is, the care is more visible.
When we talk about a status symbol, we talk about impressing other people, and while a house is more expensive than a car, not many people have the chance to see your house, but everybody sees your car. Your coworkers will not see your home, but they will most likely know what car you are driving.
So, for this reason alone, it is quite obvious why someone who wants to impress everybody will focus more on what car they drive than what house they have.
Unfortunately, I know a “painful amount of people” who could renovate their old apartments but chose to change their car instead, even if the apartment was worse. They prefer buying a car that “shows how successful they are” and avoid inviting you to their apartments rather than having a decent car and renovating their home.
2. Not a necessity
Having a car might be a necessity but having a Porche is not. Buying something that is not a necessity shows that you are beyond buying things because you need them, which means that you are successful, right?
No, at least not most of the time, but that is what most people that buy luxury cars want others to believe about them.
There is a difference between buying a Porche with a small percentage of what you earned that year and buying a Porsche with a ten years loan that will freeze a big portion of your income. But at the same time, I know many people are doing the second and few doing the first.
3. Associated with the personality
Most of the time, I hear people that associate the car they own with their personality, which is as true and reliable as associating the zodiac sign with someone’s personality.
I know people who associate people with their cars, like “that one guy with the BMW X6” and so on, even when they actually know their name.
My wife’s aunt married a guy from Germany with quite a bit more money than her family in Romania, and they came home for a wedding with a nice new Mercedes. The situation was so annoying that I got upset instead of him, everybody asked a lot of questions, but it was like 90% of questions were about the car and not about the man and his life. My wife and I were the only ones trying to change the topic to make him feel like he was a person, not a car.
He didn’t mind that much since it was obvious that he also liked the status and the car. He easily affords it, so it was not his fault this time, but it wasn’t the only thing he was willing to talk about.
The idea is that as long as most people will have this mentality and the car you drive is that important, more and more people will make many sacrifices to have a car like that.
There are tons and tons of advertisements, movies, videos, and so on where a successful/rich person has a nice car. So, we tend to associate nice cars with success, which is not always true and can be manipulated relatively easily by renting a nice car, making a way bigger credit than you should, and so on.
5. Show yourself that you are doing better
When people get a better job, a raise, or a bonus, they want to feel special and show themself that they are better than the ordinary people out there, and what better way to do this if not by buying a new or a luxury car?
Why you should not buy a car because it’s a status symbol
We already agreed that the car you own could be considered a status symbol, but the bad part is that it will not last long.
You might impress your friends, coworkers, and family with your new car, but they will get used to it pretty easily, and things will go back to where they were before, so it is not the best way to gain long-term respect.
Also, you should remember that a car comes with many other costs besides its price, so it is not an investment but rather an expense. However, I hear many people talking about how they invested in their cars which is silly since they will lose their value over time and also cost you money to maintain them.
I don’t want to say that all cars are bad investments since some people rely a lot on having a car, and paying for other types of transportation might be more expensive than owning a car, but even then, if you buy the car for the brand or to impress your friends, it is still a bad investment.
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The fact that most people consider cars a social status means they actually are. But why that is and if it is good or bad is another story; you might have to decide for yourself.
It is important to understand that buying a car to get more respect doesn’t really work for long, it might have this effect in the beginning, but it is short-term and superficial respect, so you should not get used to that.