This Is Who Can Afford a Tesla Model 3 (Is It You?)

This Is Who Can Afford a Tesla Model 3 (Is It You?)

The Tesla brand has been making its mark over the past few years thanks to the eccentric brilliance of tech mogul, Elon Musk. Electric vehicles in general have been drawing interest thanks to the finite amount of oil on our planet and fluctuating gas prices. “But wait,” you say to yourself, “electric cars are way more expensive, right?” Well, the prices might surprise you. With multiple different models, is a Tesla affordable?

A Tesla Model 3 should not be labeled as cheap,they range from affordable to expensive depending on the package you put together. The Model 3 ranges anywhere from around $39k to over $60k. There are a number of amenities to add on, such as auto-navigation, wheel size, or the color of the interior.

These are a few things to look at to gauge if you can afford a Tesla Model 3 or not. By sorting through the different variations of the Model 3, checking off different features, and taking into account your state’s sales tax or the dealership’s fees for all the paperwork you can paint a decent picture of whether or not this is something in your budget. The upfront cost may seem steep, but there are a lot of long term savings.

Can You Afford A Tesla Model 3?

The people who can afford a Tesla should take into account their annual income and weigh their decision based on that. If you make anywhere from $50,000-$70,000 a year this should be something you can afford, depending on what other priorities you have. In the long run, a Tesla will save you money being that you simply have to charge it with electricity and leasing is always an option. Check out what to look for at the jump:

  • Types of Model 3s
  • Features and packages
  • Taxes and fees

The Tesla Model 3 has a few different versions of itself. The Standard Range Plus, Long Range Model, and Performance Model. Standard Range being the cheapest, base model costing around $40,000, Longe Range being in the middle at around $49,000, and the Performance being the most expensive at around $57,000. Each one has its own specs that may or may not apply to what you need for your daily happenings.

Standard Range goes 0-60mph in a little over five seconds and can go an estimated 263 miles between charges and features rear-wheel drive. Long Range can do exactly what the name suggests, boasting a range of 353 miles in between charges. The Performance model has a lesser range at 315 miles, however it goes the fastest with a top speed of 162mph. If speed is not a priority, consider the range when deciding.

Each option offers a variety of uses and price points that could play into your budget. The biggest thing about Teslas in general is that once you buy the car it is virtually already paid for. There is not a lot of maintenance that has to go into it and the amount you will save on gas is eye-popping. So, what may seem like a tall task to pay for a Model 3 up-front is actually much more affordable in the long run.

When deciding on a Tesla vehicle to buy, it will ultimately come down to what aspects of the car are more important to you. If you care more about design and performance, then the Performance model will be the best choice. However, if you want to opt for a more affordable option, then the Standard Range model would be the right vehicle for you.

Features And Packages

So, you decided you are financially stable enough to pull the trigger on which Model 3 you want. You take a look at the car and decide the color is not for you and want to change it. It costs $1,000 to change your car’s color from the base-package white. You can choose between black, blue, and metallic. If you want to change the coat of paint to red it will cost you an additional $2,000. This is purely up to you, however.

Changing the type of wheels on your car is also an additional cost. The Model 3 comes standard with 18” Aero Wheels, however if you want to change them over to the 19” Sport Wheels it will cost an additional $1,500. This is more of an aesthetic decision than a practical one, however it is important to factor this in if it is something that makes or breaks the affordability of the vehicle for you.

Lastly, you can change the interior to a white color for $1,000. The Model 3 comes with a black interior, however if you live somewhere that gets blistering heat regularly then the white interior might be a necessary purchase. Either way, this is more dependent on the buyer’s taste more so than anything else and may not come off as a necessity. For an extra thousand dollars it is something that is entirely up to you and you alone.

Worth mentioning is the Auto-Navigation feature. This is arguably what sets the Tesla apart from other electric vehicles. For a staggering $10,000 you can have this feature added into your vehicle, making it self-aware when changing lanes on a highway or parallel parking. This is a wild, futuristic sense of sentience for your vehicle but it is not required when purchasing any of the base models.

Taxes And Fees

This should come as a given when discussing the purchase of a new car in general, not just a Tesla Model 3. You may find yourself looking at the base price of any one of the Model 3s and coming to the decision that you could afford it but do not have a lot of wiggle room. You have to consider the taxes and fees, some on Tesla’s side and others on your state/country’s side. Make sure to read all of the paper work as well.

The Tesla Model 3 will advertise itself for something less than $35,000, however this is after they factor in the government tax credit (which is no longer in effect nationally, but your state may still offer one) and how much you will save on gas over six years. This can be misleading, as the actual cost up front is closer to $40,000. The delivery fee on top of that is $1,200 as well, regardless of where you live, if you buy through their site.

Sales tax is always going to be tricky as well, depending on your state this could be several thousand additional dollars to account for. Get familiar with sales tax and just use a calculator to come up with an idea of what it will cost you. Something worth considering is purchasing the car in a border state that may be cheaper than the one you are in if there is a dealership nearby. This could potentially save you thousands.

Can I Afford to Maintain a Tesla?

If you can afford the initial purchase of a Tesla Model 3 then you can undoubtedly afford the maintenance that comes with a Tesla. One of the driving (no pun intended) factors about investing in a Tesla is that they do not require a lot of service. They do not tend to rust as quickly and they have less parts on account of not having a motor or other internal mechanisms that other gas-powered cars need to operate. Check it out:

  • Battery charger installation
  • Service to your car
  • Long term savings
  • Resale value

Car maintenance in general can be daunting to think about. A Tesla Model 3 realistically just needs to have a steady influx of electric power and occasionally be looked at by a trained technician to make sure the car’s computer system is up to speed. Oil changes are non-existent as is worrying about high-mileage. You will end up saving an astronomical amount of money by sticking with a Tesla Model 3.

Charger Installation

The Tesla Model 3 comes with a battery charger that you can plug right into a basic three-prong outlet. It will power your car at a clip of about 30 miles per hour of charging. A single eight hour night of charging will factor out to about 240 miles of driving time, for example. You can charge your car anywhere you have access to one of these outlets as well, which helps to keep your electricity bills from getting too high as well.

  • You can also purchase a more powerful charger, called a Wall Connector, from Tesla’s website for $500.
  • This boosts the amount of mileage per hour charged by an estimated 44 miles.
  • You will need the talents of a licensed electrician to install it for you, which of course will drive the price up further. Again, this will only help in the long run but can be a decent amount of money up-front.

Superchargers, which look like electric powered gas pumps, are becoming more and more common as well. Thousands and thousands of these Superchargers exist throughout the US and the Tesla Model 3 comes with a navigation system that is programmed to find these chargers on long road trips to keep you going. The Superchargers have the capability to power about 200 miles of range in 15 minutes.

Servicing Your Tesla Model 3

Servicing a Tesla is not even in the same atmosphere as servicing a gas-powered car. Whereas a gas-powered car has an engine and requires regular oil changes, the Tesla Model 3 has a battery that powers everything. It is much cheaper to own a Tesla Model 3 due to the sole fact that there is just flat out less possibilities of something going wrong. This factors into long-term mileage as well as battery degradation.

The biggest piece of evidence for this is the amount of mileage you could rack up on your Model 3.

  • Having 100,000 miles on your Tesla puts way less stress on the vehicle than one that relies on gasoline
  • Less parts means less wear and tear and definitely less corrosion
  • Tesla goes as far to claim that mileage does not matter when it comes to their vehicles, which is something to consider if you decide to sell yours down the line

You may find yourself questioning the health of the battery long term. This is fair, battery degradation is very real and we see this happen in our cell phones or other devices that require charging. Over time, the batteries do not hold a charge as long to the point where they may not turn on or operate properly. This is not a problem with Teslas, you may find a small amount of degradation over time but not enough to worry about.

Long Term Savings From Buying A Tesla Model 3

As mentioned before, the initial cost of a Tesla Model 3 can seem pretty steep. This might make you think that you cannot afford a Tesla. However, once you buy the car the costs do not start to pile up. Instead, you will find yourself saving money from no longer needing to pay for gas to not having to worry about oil changes. You could even make some of that money back if you decide to sell due to their longevity.

Charging your Tesla Model 3 will require a reliable source of electricity. This is something you can do from your home, which is ultimately cheaper than gas all on its own. Nothing can really stop you from charging your car when you get to your place of work, however, and there are a number of charging ports all across the country at places like rest stops. In a lot of these cases, the electricity is free to use.

Reselling your Tesla Model 3 is ideal as well, oftentimes netting you something close to a third of your money back. 200,000 miles on a Tesla does not have negative effects on the vehicle in the way that it would on an oil reliant counterpart. You can sell to many willing buyers who want to own their own Tesla without having to worry about whether or not the mileage will be an issue.

The Resale Value of a Tesla Model 3

It would be unwise to talk about all the things that make a Tesla Model 3 great from the jump without mentioning how valuable a Tesla remains when you decide to get a new car. Between the low maintenance, the vehicle’s longevity, and overall price-point after years and years of use, you will be sure to sell your Tesla Model 3 for a great price – up to a third of what you paid for it if it is in good enough condition.

Having less parts in your Tesla means less of a chance for a part to break, like a timing belt for example. Think about the complexities of an engine, arguably the most intricate part of a gas-powered car. Now, imagine having a car without something so complicated dictating how you travel on a daily basis. That is the benefit of electric vehicles like the Model 3—the most you will have to worry about is making sure the battery is healthy.

This greatly affects the longevity of the car, a Tesla Model 3 can go the distance without running into trouble. Tesla themselves suggest maintenance every two years or 25,000 miles for the Model 3 specifically. This is outstanding considering how many things can go wrong with a gas-powered engine in the same span of time. It really is simple, more moving parts means more problems, which lead to more parts and labor costs.

And finally, the actual resale value of a Tesla Model 3 is much better than most cars on the used market. A quick internet search can find you tons of used options, including browsing Tesla’s website as well. A Tesla Model 3 with 10,000-20,000 miles on it can go for around $35,000. If you bought the base model of the Model 3 you just made more than half your money back. There is a huge market for these vehicles right now.

Final Thoughts

All in all, just about anyone with a steady income can own a Tesla Model 3. It is easily the most affordable model Tesla has to offer, but ultimately it is going to come down to how comfortable you feel spending around $40,000-$70,000 up front. It is undoubtedly going to save you money down the line and the depreciation factor that most cars have to come to terms with does not affect the resale value of a Tesla due to long lifespans.

It is worth mentioning that you should not impulsively purchase a Tesla Model 3, or any major purchase in general. There is a lot to think about when buying a new car, but thanks to tax credits and a more affordable and abundant resource like electricity, this is sure to last much longer than a gas-powered vehicle and will without a doubt save you thousands of dollars long term.


The articles here on are created by Greg, a Tesla vehicle and Tesla solar expert with nearly half a decade of hands-on experience. The information on this site is fact-checked and tested in-person to ensure the best possible level of accuracy.

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