Hey dear readers,
Time to share my perspective on another experience that differs quite a lot between the US and Sweden – buying a car! I’m sure most of you have personally, or through a family, experienced the car purchasing process in the US and how painful it can be. You never feel like you’re getting a good deal because it almost always feel like an adversarial negotiation.
I remember the very first car I bought in the US: the redesigned 2004 Acura TL. It was a new model year and in such high demand that dealers were able to move them quickly at MSRP. I went to 2 or 3 Acura dealerships in NorCal to get a sense of the pricing and realized that if I was able to get it under MSRP, it’d be a good deal. If I recall correctly, I ended up paying $1000 over invoice and got a few things thrown in (mud guards, winter mats) so it turned out to be an okay deal. But just the same, the entire process was harrowing and I didn’t feel like I was going to come out of the process intact.
Let’s fast forward to 2020 in Sweden. My wife and I moved into a newly constructed apartment complex and one of the features was that it had a garage for the vast majority of its residents. We decided to put ourselves on the list for a spot. We didn’t have a car when we moved in, but my in-laws were kind enough to let us borrow their Mercedes station wagon so we could run errands (read: IKEA runs) during the first few months of the move.
It’s time for a fun update! Today I’m going to talk about getting a driver’s license in Sweden (or rather, what I had to go through to get my Swedish driver’s license). Listen up, Americans… this ain’t no joke. The test is way harder than you think.
Raise your hand if you moved here and found out that your driver’s license was only good for the first year that you were here? I’ve always thought that was weird – as if we would suddenly forget how to drive once the 366th day comes rolling around.
Keep your hand raised if you thought that it was no big deal for you to get a new license because you drove back in your home country, or you chose to postpone the process because you didn’t think you would need a car.
Have you heard of the famous Google, Facebook, and Apple commuter buses that ferry their employees from San Francisco to their corporate Silicon Valley campuses? It is a love hate relationship; the employees love them but the community have really turned against them, mostly because they see the buses as symbols of gentrification and displacement. Rents and property values in the areas where the commuter shuttles pick-up employees have apparently increased faster than other areas. I don’t have enough data to comment on this issue, but I did want to comment on something else!
I recently read an article¹ about San Francisco gathering public feedback around the idea of a centralized transportation hub for private commuter shuttles instead of having stops all over San Francisco. I then read a follow-up article² where they analyzed the different responses against the respondents’ IP addresses and zip codes to figure out where the respondents most likely worked. I read through these comments just to get an idea of the sentiment from the community. Continue reading
Hello dear readers!
Time for another update, this time on a topic that is related to my most recent achievement (getting my driver’s license) — PARKING!
One of the biggest complaints you hear from folks in Stockholm is that parking is atrocious and is incredibly expensive. This is true, but it’s all relative, right? Folks, I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area. While the suburbs in the SF Bay are parking-friendly, the streets of San Francisco proper are definitely not.