We’re getting a new car today, now that the Subaru has been declared unworthy of road safety. It’s used, but it is new to us, and we’re super excited to get it!

Just like everything else here in Norway, owning a car is expensive. Not only do they charge a 25% tax on all new car purchases, but they also charge a tax per horsepower over a certain threshold. Gas is about $8 a gallon, and there are road tolls everywhere. In Oslo, they don’t want people driving cars, so they have high fees for parking meters, driving tolls, and garages. Even in wee Kongsberg, pretty much any parking area or street parking requires you to get a parking voucher from a nearby machine. Sometimes it costs, sometimes it is a free hour, but parking is regulated and the State is going to make a buck where they can.

It may come as a surprise to some that gas is so expensive here, given the intense amount of money that Norway makes from exporting the oil they harvest from their sea coasts. However, you don’t get rich by giving assets away. Even owning a second car is absurdly expensive, as there is a second-car-tax, a baseline per-car road tax, and insurance isn’t exactly cheap (it runs about the same as in the US). When Jens was in Texas, he took pictures of pretty much every giant truck he saw. In other words, he took a lot of pictures. Here, I have seen a few trucks, but they just aren’t practical to own, given the financial drain of the taxation and road tolls in Norway.

With all of these restrictions and taxes, it’s easy to see that Norway remains a beautiful place for a reason. Only about 5-6 million people live here, in a land area 47% of the size of Texas. Electric cars are exempt from the 25% new car tax until 2020, and we’re betting they will extend that tax break even farther into the future to promote electric car purchases over gasoline/diesel gas car purchases. The environment of Norway is well-preserved, and a quick look outside any window will confirm any suspicions you had about the root of Norway’s success in the winter Olympics. Mountains, snow, and skis are just about everywhere. Even in summer, I hear that the serious skiers use “roller skis” so that they can continue to get around with the same ease that winter cross-country skis allow.

Now, I will say, the people here own some really nice cars. Just as Hondas, Fords, and Chevys populate any average American parking lot, so it is here with Audis, Volvos, BMWs, and Mercedes. There are “affordable” cars here too, of course, such as Skodas, Opels, Nissans, Hyundais, Volkswagons, and the like. But don’t start thinking that just because Norway is close to the European car manufacturers, that is why so many high-end cars dominate the road. On the contrary. The starting price of a car over here is twice to three times as much as a car on American soil. Perhaps you paid $40,000 for your Ford F-150. Here, you’d easily start at $90-$100,000.

While our new car isn’t an Audi, Volvo, BMW, or Mercedes, it will certainly do the job of transporting us from Point A to Point B, and for a shockingly affordable price. And, it’s our first car to pick out together, which, to me, is the most exciting part of all.