Learning to drive is a rite of passage, but it can certainly be expensive for learner drivers. We did an investigation into just how much learning to drive can cost in different parts of the world, and how the UK compares with other countries for affordability.
With costs ranging from just over £300 in Malta to over £3,000 in Hong Kong it seems some young drivers’ dreams of getting behind the wheel come at a significantly different price.
How much does it cost to drive around the world?
Check out the map below to see the different costs of learning to drive around the globe:
Paying the price for expertise
The UK ranked fifth cheapest place for learner drivers to get a lesson with an expert, with the average cost of a lesson £24. That’s better value than in Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, USA and Hong Kong.
Learner drivers in Malta got the best value, with the average cost of a driving lesson with a qualified instructor coming in at £13.
On the other end of the scale, at over four times more expensive than the UK, the most expensive cost per lesson faced learner drivers in Hong Kong with the average cost coming in at £97 a lesson.
Although some countries adopt the same approach as the UK and allow learner drivers to choose between professional lessons or to learn with a suitably qualified driver, places like Italy and Hong Kong only allow lessons with licenced instructors, making high prices unavoidable for those who want to get on the road.
Young drivers behind the wheel
Some countries including the USA (state dependent), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Barbados, Ireland and Sweden all allow drivers to start the formal learning process and sit tests at the age of 16.
Our French neighbours allow young drivers to start at just 15, although like British teenagers they need to be 17 before they can legally take their test.
Other countries including Spain, Italy, Singapore, Malta and Hong Kong require drivers to be 18 before they can start learning, putting the UK firmly in the middle of the pack.
Driving around the World
Our investigation revealed Hong Kong to be the most expensive place for drivers to learn overall, with a combination of the most expensive ‘rate’ per hour and a recommended 30 lessons before attempting a test.
What’s more, there is a standard wait of six to nine months to sit the test in Hong Kong and hefty charges to re-sit, adding to the pressure for those keen to get the green light.
Germany was the most expensive place for learner drivers in Europe, and the second most expensive worldwide. Despite being £1,000 cheaper than Hong Kong, the average overall cost for learner drivers came in at £2,164 thanks to a recommended 40-50 lessons of tuition before learners are test ready, as well as a £364 price tag to sit the test.
The USA ranked the third most expensive place to learn to drive. And while rules vary by state, the USA had the second highest average charge for a single lesson at £86 meaning any young Americans dreaming of a Route 66 road trip will need a hefty budget to get there.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale a single lesson in Malta costs just £13 on average. Whilst they don’t have a set number of recommended lessons required, an assumption of 20 lessons, a cheap cost for provisional license and a total test cost under £50 means Malta offers a much more modest price tag for learner drivers looking to get their license.
Life after you get your licence
While passing your driving test is a mark of freedom in the UK and around the world, in some countries new drivers face strict rules and regulations even after they have a full licence.
In Spain for example, drivers MUST display a green L plate for the first year after passing their test.
And while Maltese drivers are faced with the lowest costs when learning to drive, they need to exercise extra caution once they’ve passed. In Malta, new drivers remain on a ‘provisional’ licence for a full three years after passing their test and need to keep it clean in order to progress to a full license.
Newly qualified drivers in Sweden need to have a mandatory eye test which will set them back the equivalent of £17, and German drivers need both an emergency medical aid certificate and an eye test.
Regardless of where in the world you learn to drive, here are our top tips for young drivers:
1. Know the theory – read, understand and learn the rules of the road based on the highway code or equivalent.
2. Ask your friends, family and other drivers to test you on your knowledge.
3. Start revising and practicing your theory knowledge in plenty of time for the test – depending where in the world you live a re-test could involve a long wait as well as an additional BIG expense.
4. If you can legally mix instructor led tuition with support from an authorised adult – for example a parent – this could help reduce your tuition costs.
5. If the rules of the road mean all your lessons are with an official driving school, plan and prepare for each one. Ensure you are on time, ready, and alert; pick a time of day for your lessons where you can guarantee attendance and make notes afterwards on advice given that you can read through before the next session.
6. Stay calm, avoid distractions and don’t panic!
If you want to cut down on the cost of learning to drive, why not consider private practice? Our learner driver insurance starts from just £4.67 for two hours of cover, letting you practice in a friend or family member’s car