to drive (or not) in Europe
October 29, 2012 12:57 PM Subscribe
I am relocating to the UK. I do not have a driver's license. Should I get one?
I had a license in Australia and the US throughout my teens, but I let it lapse at age 20 when I moved to The Big City and didn't have a car. Since then I've happily maintained my car free lifestyle and never really had a need to re-learn how to drive in the last 12 years.
However, next year I am relocating to England for work. I will be commuting between Ipswich and London several times a week, living in either far east London or Colchester. Most of my work commuting will be via train but occasionally I may get called into either location after hours. I will also be traveling to western Europe frequently for work (flying, obviously - NL/FR/CH/DE mostly). My job functions do not require traveling during the course of the day - it's just getting out to various offices, most of which are in major cities. Except for Ipswich, where, of course, I'll be spending the majority of my time.
In the US, I have had to build my adult life around the lack of driving - I live within a walkable distance to work or on a transit line, in neighborhoods that have ultra-high walk scores and supermarkets a few blocks away, that sort of thing. I have always been under the impression that being car free is easier in the UK and Europe than it is in the US and the part of (Western) Australia where I lived. If I were relocating for pleasure or whatever, I wouldn't worry at all about this, I'd just wait until I got there and decide if it were necessary. But because I'm going there to work, I worry that I'll end up in a situation where I can't do my job or get to my job because I can't find a train or bus to get me to where I need to be.
Should I get a license? If so, would it be better to learn in the US before I leave, or in the UK after I arrive? If the latter, are there any special considerations I need to keep in mind, being a foreign national?