Cross-Border Fintech, Expats, Financial

The F-word: how do I deal with my everyday’s needs?

Through this short story of my expatriation journey I am explaining the importance of achieving the right financial freedom and desired lifestyle, even while migrating.

The years of innocence and youth

Graduating in 2015, I was quite poor and not very wise about money. All I knew was that money is the thing that you receive at the end of the month as a salary, and for that a bank account was required.

Easily enough, I managed to open a pre-paid card that would allow me to deposit, withdraw and transact within my local and global market. Unfortunately, I had to discover that this wasn’t just enough.

Growing my everyday needs

It took quite a while, but after a few months of hard work and savings I decided to invest in a better lifestyle and look to buy a new car.

After some browsing through Toyotas, Fords, Hondas and Fiats, I caught myself looking for car loans and car insurances instead. And then it was when I felt like walking in a jungle of complicated products, clauses and interest rates that I couldn’t understand.

Relocating to the UK

Unfortunately the feeling of financial uncertainty never left me, and it actually became worse when I moved to live and work in the UK.

As an expat in a new country I had to start from scratch, so things like setting up a new bank account, renting deposit and insurance schemes or even getting new mobile, broadband and utility bills contracts was a stressful adventure.

After achieving the baseline of the services that I needed to continue my lifestyle in the UK, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I could have received better deals, cheaper, easier and quicker. So let’s break down my dealpackage:

  • Rent: A monthly fee of £800 for a room in Chiswick (bills excluded), and a hefty 6-Months deposit due to the lack of local address history.
  • Mobile: 17£ per month for 4Gb data and 600 minutes, no phone included (quite crap, I know)
  • Broadband and Utility bills: can’t recall the exact rate, but I do remember my work-colleagues’ comments on how bad it was
  • Banking: no overdraft or anything fancy (neither contactless payments!!!), just a digital pot of money, and i should be thankful as it was the only one that did accept me.

Living and working as an expat

Expats are often faced with an unfair set of choices to make during their first years. In my case I was barely able to make it to the end of the month, which lead to constantly feel frustrated and unsatisfied: I didn’t leave my country, my job, my friends and family in Italy for a worse lifestyle.

Admittedly, I was living in financial distress, and I was very much ashamed of it. Unfortunately this is a common situation for every immigrant, no matter their historic financial background in their home country is. To understand this claim better with data, I recommend to have a look at this extremely interesting article by Neal Gabler.

Just reporting one from the article:

Since 2013, the federal reserve board has conducted a survey to monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.

Building up my financial status

Later in my career I had the possibility to work for a company called ClearScore. Working for ClearScore gave me the possibility to learn a lot about managing my finances wisely and leave behind much of my financial distress.

I finally was able to understand the importance of accessing the right financial product for my needs. I discovered the importance of data and financial marketplaces.

What is a financial marketplace you may ask? In simple terms, they are websites and apps that assist you in obtaining financial flexibility and freedom by analysing your financial history to offer tailored solutions that best meet your needs.

A Financial Marketplace for Expats

At Ocyan we aim to support expats through their relocation journey without having to feel financially fragile, by helping you to find the right financial product for your needs at any time.

At the moment of writing we are onboarding just a small subset of people that subscribed in our waiting list but we will be launching globally very soon so stay tuned! From day 1 we are aiming to offer you support for a set of products that include bank accounts, insurances, mobile, utility bills and much more.

If you would like to reach out for more clarifications, or any related discussion or just share your experience with us just contact me here, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.

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Co-Founder & CTO

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