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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Moving to Germany? Yes, You'll Take a Driving Test

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Moving to Germany? Yes, You'll Take a Driving Test

If you're going to be stationed in Germany, you're gonna have to pass the driver's test. Piece of cake you say? Not so my friend. Many people fail it the first time around thinking they can just look over the notes and take the test the same day. Nay nay...doesn't work that way. Look, you're going to be stressed out enough as it is, just going through the motions of moving and going to a foreign country...nevermind the test. How about an easy way to just breeze through the test then? No worries...

Why do you even need a new driver's license over there? The last time you took a vacation overseas, you just flashed your American driver's license, got in your rental car and sped off. Because of a lovely set of lawyer documents called the SOFA agreement. If you are stationed overseas, you MUST have a USAREUR driver's license in order to drive there...no exceptions..and in order to get this license, you have to take the written German driving test. No, it's not in German, but it might as well be after you see some of the questions. You'll have to do some memorizing and signage recognition to pass with flying colors.

Some nice person has come up with a nifty little program you can download to your computer. It's not like the old days, where you had to wait until you got over there....check out a grease-stained dog-eared manual, cram...errr....I mean study and take the test. Now you can sit at your computer or laptop if you are traveling...at your leisure...look over the materials, take practice tests and generally have an easier time of studying the stuff well beforehand. Check it out here.

Anyone have any USAREUR driving stories to share? Did your vehicle make it over in one piece? Did you make it over in one piece?

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14 Comments:

Blogger Cristin said...

While we were stationed there (04-07), they changed the test and supposedly it is much easier now. Myself and my vehicle made it over there in one piece, but we had a little fender bender while there. Black ice is not my friend! =)

May 15, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Don't stress too much! study that program like it's the Bible and you'll cruise thru it. I screwed up a couple of signs, but otherwise breezed thru the testing. They make you sit thru a class prior to the test, going over MUCH of the info, and if you can't do it then, I think the second time, one can.

My only big problem with driving over there was other Americans ON POST! I was at Heidelberg, maybe 2 months, hubby was at an exercise.. I was going to the shoppette, and saw someone backing out of a spot. I stopped, not so much to let him out, but because he wasn't paying attention to traffic behind him. He backs and before I could get backed up, he smacks my van. Of course, his car is a rental as he's PCSing back stateside. The one witness in the whole lot? She's PCSing stateside in days as well. needless to say, my van still has the scratch on the front fender from the idiot.

The other incident was a factor of small German roads near our village in another village. I was driving with a friend who was visiting Germany after being an exchange student several years ago, so she was fluent, thankfully. I clipped a side mirror of a German's jeep. (trying to avoid oncoming traffic) My mirror shatters and I see the German flagging me down in my rearview mirror. We stop, and she walks back with me. The guy says it's his fault that he didn't turn the mirror in. You'll find that over there.

The one thing I love AND MISS is the speed on the autobahn. I usually went about 120k, maybe 140, especially after we got the Saab. The trip from Hberg to Ktown is painfully boring on the A6. Just don't drive like the NoDaks do... in the left lane for miles. You'll get run off the road! And I don't think it was legal to do so except to pass.

i'm not sure where you're going, but the traffic at Stuttgart is horrendous on the autobahn. They're doing (or were while we were there) major road construction.

Enjoy! I miss Germany desperately! Would love to be there instead of here.

May 15, 2008 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger J&M said...

We've been in Germany since 2005, and driving has been fine. I passed my license test without much studying. I just paid attention during the little class they make you take, and I've had one minor accident... I was driving in my German neighborhood, and a lady who was parked pulled off the curb right into the whole passenger side of my car... And then this past weekend we were in Paris and had to fit my poor Chrysler Sebring into this car coffin of a parking space (think four enclosed sides and no room to open the doors) and smashed the passenger side up and down the wall a few times while we were trying to park, but that was hubby driving, not me... my poor car!

May 27, 2008 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Hi, I am new in Germany from the U.S. and taking my driving test soon. I am having trouble with the program you put on your page. Could you walk me through how to use it? I can get into the program, but the study section does not come up with anything. Thanks so much for putting this up on your page!

July 21, 2008 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I don't have the program installed anymore, but I seem to remember staring at a blank program when I first opened it. You have to use the drop down menus. Then, when you take either the sign or the other practice test, in order to see your score, you have to close the program and then open it back up again.

Unfortunately, you can't see WHICH questions you missed...that would be an even bigger help.

I think they did make the test easier, although we did still have a few people fail. Yes, you take four hours total, and I am happy to say they at least updated the videos to something other the 1970s era stuff of the old boxy BMWs running into snowbanks and skidding off black ice. Now, it's more relevant and goes over some of the rules and situations. Plus the "teacher" goes over the "right before left" rule on the whiteboard, along with the signs again at the end.

July 21, 2008 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger GG said...

My husband is a retired Marine and has just been offered a job in Stuttgart. I was wondering about bringing my new Honda CR-V. We just bought it, and I would like to bring it with me. He has a 1999 diesel Beetle. What would be the better car to bring, and do they pay to have it shipped over? Is the steering wheel on the same side as in the US?
Thanks

September 17, 2008 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Steering wheel is on the same side..many of the same road rules as in the States. One that stands out it the right before left rule always unless there is a sign (at intersections).

As far as what car to bring over. Which car is better in bad weather and the snow? You want that one. Also, the car with more room might be better if you want to travel...the smaller car will fit in most tight parking spaces though...you should see me in a German parking garage with my minivan! Be prepared for some dings on your brand new car as it gets shipped over too (at least you'll get reimbursed for it, unlike me....my van had too many dings to begin with, so the new dings "didn't count").

The military will pay to ship one vehicle...if you wanted the other, you'd have to ship at your expensive, which may or may not be worth it. Many folks do sell their second car before coming over and then buy a cheap junker car from the many soldiers leaving.

Was your DH offered a job with AFRICOM? Because of the influx of AFRICOM, there is not enough housing, on or off post. I would recommend your husband travel here first and then have you come when he eventually gets housing. I have friends who've lived in the hotel for three months now and will now move into temp housing til they find a place. It's that bad!

September 18, 2008 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger aware said...

I am heading to Baumholder and I want to ship both cars!!! :( When my husband goes to work I would like to have a car to find work and eventually work (Hopefully on base) and all. Do they ever ship two cars for a family of two?? Thanks all!! I cant wait to be in Germany and maybe meet you guys :)

August 9, 2009 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

IMO, it's just not worth it to ship a second vehicle at your expense. No car is worth the extra money, effort, etc.

Most people have the wife (or whoever works farthest away) drive the car they decide to ship over, and the other spouse either uses public transpo, the buses running between bases, walking, biking or they buy one of the MANY used vehicles on the lemon lot. You'll always see a large variety of nice and not so nice cars. Many of the guys in the unit buy these hoopties/clunkers just to get around locally in. Many are European SPECS and cannot be shipped to the States and they go from one person to the next!

One tour we had a relative keep our other US car, and another time we sold one before we left...always shipping one vehicle at govt expense.

Many Americans also take advantage of the lower priced BMWs, Volvos and SAABs. You can even go to the factory to pick them up and shipping back to the States is almost always included.

August 13, 2009 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger cheers2302 said...

Hi! This is my first post. I have been reading through this extremely helpful site and can't say thank you enough for the time and effort that has been put in here.

My husband and I have just been assigned to Vilseck, Germany and I am wondering if it is worth it to even take my car if that is an option? Can't we just walk to the markets/grocery stores and as far as traveling goes, can we just take trains/planes?

I am hesitant to bring my car as I know it will be an expense. Not to mention I live in Florida and my car is also Floridian, and by that I mean, has NEVER been in snow and the coldest weather it has experienced is not colder than 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Any advice?

Thanks!

November 6, 2009 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

You're welcome! My recommendation is to wait then until you get here. There is a used car lot in every military community over here, and you can get great bargains on a vehicle, especially from the people who are in a hurry to PCS and can't/don't want to keep their vehicle.

I would hesitate being without a car...some things on post are spread out, plus you'll probably need to get to Vilseck and who knows where you will live...those who live off post usually don't have good transit connections to work...only if you live on base/post.

The German train system is fantastic, and we frequently travel all over by train, but we still take our car when we travel to small towns or want more flexibility...also, depending on how far you live from public transpo, just getting to the train may be more hassle without a car.

November 11, 2009 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
Great site! Has anyone on here ever attempted to obtain an actual German drivers license? I have read that there many states that have reciprocity and the German license is for life. It would make it a lot easier if I could just get a German license...
Comments?

January 15, 2011 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Yes, some go that route! I have a Belgian license that was only a few Euros and that will be good for life, and I never had to take an additional test or training (although I did need my military license from the base).

Read this site
http://www.german-way.com/germany-drivers-license-reciprocity.html

I never did it while in Germany, as I didn't want to give up my stateside license, as I am a resident of that state and needed it!

January 15, 2011 at 6:47 PM  
Blogger Sunkissed Wahine said...

I think shipping your car can be worth it, especially if it's fully paid for. We thought long and hard about shipping our second car overseas and ultimately decided it'd be cheaper for a variety of reasons. First, our car is paid off. Second, it suits our family of five very well and didn't want to have to go through any possible headaches looking for a car that could serve us the same way our current car does. Third, and this was the biggest factor for us, was knowing our car's history. Only one person owned our car before us and we've had this vehicle long enough to know what's been fixed and replaced. We've heard stories of people buying a cheap used car on the lemon lot and then having to fork thousands of dollars out to have it fixed because of unknown problems the car was having.
We paid about $3500-$4000 to have our second car shipped overseas and it has been worth it!

May 25, 2011 at 12:12 PM  

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