This year I finally got the driver’s license in Germany! However, it was not an easy way and I would like to share my experiences and tips to save you nerves, time and money!
The Spanish odyssey to the driving education
When I turned 17, I made a conscious decision, against the advice of all bystanders, not to get my driver’s license during school like (almost) everyone else. I didn’t plan to buy a car and didn’t need one in the city. In addition, I told myself that I could also do the license abroad at some point - where I wanted to go anyway. I had Spain or the USA in mind, where the driving license is also a lot cheaper. However, I didn’t take into account that inflation makes everything more expensive over a few years. In short, I would have paid similar prices last year for a driver’s license in Spain as I did in 2017 in the Berlin area. In fact, I spent the winter of 2022 during my Erasmus in Barcelona and planned to finally do it there. However, I underestimated immensely that the examiners were completely booked after Corona lockdown and the city is also not an easy driving area - many driving hours… I quickly realized that my few months abroad were too short and then considered going to a less precarious city in Seville for one or two months to complete the practical training there. The price there was also a lot cheaper. However, it finally failed because of the bureaucracy that says that you have to prove at least 6 months of residence. The idea was practically ruined because it seemed too risky to bet everything on a few weeks in the summer that everything would go smoothly.
The training in Berlin
In the spring of 2022, I moved back to Berlin and finally decided to get my driver’s license here - so that I finally have it! Not surprisingly, the driving schools here were also overcrowded and the wait for exam dates stretched over several months. Some schools even had an admission freeze and many said that you should plan for more than 6 months. However, due to my studies in Munich, it was not clear if I would stay in Berlin that long. I looked for express courses and found hardly any offer. A driving school in Neukölln promised training in about a month with a hefty express surcharge. Finally, I found the Dilek driving school in Wedding, which advertised fast test dates right away. The lady told me that I should expect costs around 2000 plus minus 500 euros. In addition, I could complete the theory there within 3 and a half weeks and 90 euros for 80 minutes of driving also seemed normal in Berlin. And so began my journey to driving education, which quickly taught me some lessons I want to save you from.
Choosing a driving school
- don’t choose a driving school under time pressure, because it takes so long with the others
- transparent price structure: are all costs of the training listed in writing? I was surprised with costs for the switching proof, the theoretical examination and high examination costs, although I had asked in the discussion (only verbally) for all costs -> written agreement over the conditions
- Compare costs of driving schools with very many driving lessons (I would calculate with 50 times a 40 minutes. Most schools give double lessons). Do not trust the foreign cost estimate
- no cash payment: for me a sign of lack of professionalism and also it makes the cost overview more difficult
- how professional does the school seem? I had to change my driving instructor several times because they quit
- always get a proof of driving lessons / receipt: expect that you want / need to change driving schools
- it is much more expensive in the big city: do you have the possibility to do it somewhere else?
The choice of driving instructor
I involuntarily changed my driving instructor 4 times, 2 of which were due to driving instructors quitting. In general, I would make sure to pick an instructor who is personable, but at the same time not too quiet. Many instructors play on their cell phones, but there are also instructors who are attentive, challenge you, and point out mistakes. That’s how it should be!
In the Berlin area a few years ago, instead of paying over 4000, I would have paid well under 2000 euros and saved myself more stress besides university and work. On the other hand, I would have used my driver’s license only really very rarely in the last 4 years and would certainly have lost driving safety after such a long time. Nevertheless, in retrospect I would advise early training, because at some point you need the driver’s license certainly times.