Sometimes, things come up that you have not really considered when you thought through various pros and cons of a potential life-altering decision (such as starting a new life abroad).
When they do, you feel stupid on multiple levels. Stupid, because you did not consider them in the first place. Stupid, because you feel that considering them in advance might have affected your eagerness to make such decision. Stupid, because, in the end, they are nothing more than nuisances and you realize you’d feel doubly stupid if you hang your decision on them…
Well, maybe not exactly nuisances: They cost nerves, they cause anxiety, and they put you at a financial disadvantage…
I am sharing the office with a guy, probably in his late 40-s, who relocated to London just a couple of weeks ahead of me. The important difference is that he is British. He relocated to Charlotte for a couple of years and then he came back. And he talks about how hard it is to set yourself up in a different country – meaning England upon his return. He is a good guy, he is trying to empathize, but I cannot help but scoff, “Do you realize how much harder it is for me?”
He did make a simple but very true observation.
You spend your whole life gradually building up your comforts, your resources, your knowledge base, your access to things. Trying to accomplish similar build-up in a matter of weeks is doomed to failure.
Take credit history. What was my credit rating the last time I checked my credit report at home – 780? What is it now, in UK? Uhhm… zero? Yeah, zero! The evidence of my financial credibility did not cross the ocean with me, leaving me at the moment with just 2 weeks – of residency, of UK job history (no paychecks yet), of general credit history.
I can see some blowhard at a financing company looking at my application and thinking “Hmm, an American citizen who is an executive at a major multinational corporation – how in hell will he be able to afford to repay our loan? He’s got no history to support it, and those dastardly multinationals must be outsourcing their executive positions so that they can pay peanuts to Americans. Denied!”
It hardly helps my case that the highest salary range on any application is 34K+. Yes, thirty-four thousand or higher. Trust me, I fall under “higher”. Really “higher”! But you wouldn’t be able to say by looking at the application…
I am exaggerating a bit. A combination of tenancy agreement, job contract, US passport and US bank statements gets me to a point of being conditionally approved for a car loan (read: not very advantageous terms), but it takes me literally a whole day of intermittent phone calls from sales guys and their managers, plus faxing and re-faxing, to get there. And it is one of those things that got no consideration when we were thinking whether we should move or not, and I feel stupid because… well, see the first paragraph…
Not all is bad, of course. Since B of A has no retail presence in the UK, associate banking is handled via NatWest. They have their own moments (i.e., I’ve been waiting for almost a month now to have my account activated for online banking access), but the relationship manager assigned to me is mostly very helpful. One avenue I decided to pursue at around 12:30 today was to apply for a personal loan through NatWest. By 4:30, I was approved (as far as I can see, on standard terms). It remains to be seen how soon I can actually get the money, but it was a welcome realization of relief.
I am signing off for today and, potentially, for a few days. I’m flying back home for a few days, and may not have enough personal computer time for the next post to appear earlier than in a week or so. Hopefully, such intermission will not turn my faithful readers away.