Alan lived abroad for most of the last 15 years, in Europe and the middle east, working in international financial services. Currently, Alan lives and works in Dubai with his wife, two children, a greyhound and a semi-giant tortoise. Fascinated by expat culture, behaviours and challenges, he plans on being an expat for the rest of his life.
Transcripts are automatically generated and may not be an 100% accurate transcription.
Nicole (Host): You're listening to the moving roadmap podcast powered by Avvinue.
Nicole (Host): My name's Nicole. And I'll be your host for the show. In this episode, we're excited to introduce our guests, Alan Turner, who lived abroad for the last 15 years and Europe and in the Middle East, working in international financial services.
Alan now lives and works in Dubai with his wife, two children, a Greyhound, and a semi giant tortoise. Welcome to the show, Alan.
Alan Turner: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Nicole (Host): Right. So you've lived abroad for quite a few years. So tell us about the first place that you moved to.
Alan Turner: Yeah, sure. So the first place I moved to, was Frankfurt in, in Germany.
Which I didn't really know much about when I, when I got on the plane too, it's a head there. It was a fairly random pin in the map situation. But to this day, it's probably still one of my favorite cities on the planet. And whether that's because it was the place where I sort of became an expert and discovered myself without wanting to sound too textbook there, or whether it, or whether it truly is a really, really great city, I don’t know, but I love the place.
Nicole (Host): Awesome. Okay. And where did you move from?
Alan Turner: So I moved from I'm originally from the Southeast of England from, from the County of Kent. And I lived there for the first 25 years of my life, in a pretty small, well, ordinary size town of about 25,000 people, I think. Yeah. Just, just needed to explore beyond what I, what I had there basically.
And, and that's what. That's what ultimately sort of drove me to do what I did
Nicole (Host): Really? Okay. So when did you actually know you wanted to move abroad? Was it a career focus or I know you mentioned it was kind of like a pin on the map. So when did you know you wanted to move abroad?
Alan Turner: I didn't know. I didn't know that I wanted to move abroad until, until I got offered.
The job to do so to be honest, I was, in need of, I was in need of a bit of a career sort of booster. I was doing okay. I was in a, in a sort of fairly ordinary sort of sales job back home, but I was, I was in England. Really, if you get to a certain point and really if you want to, if you want to Excel or certainly from an earnings point of view, Then you you've really got a choice of either accepting what you've got or going and working in London.
And I never, really wanted to, to get on the London and train, you know, I didn't want to do that sort of commute and out of London every day, I didn't really want to live in London. Yeah, a bit of a circus for me. So I was, I was at that point where I was just, I was looking for an opportunity that was going to give me a chance to sort of step up my career and, and with that, you know, what prospects by earnings and I tripped over.
I just tripped over a, a job advertisement for, for sales positions overseas, that seemed to fit my skillset and went for the interview, went on the training day. And yeah, before, before I knew it, I'd been sort of offered a role with an office in Frankfurt in Germany, had a couple of calls with the office manager and you know, and that, and that was kind of it.
And it wasn't until that conversation became a real thing, started to come. Let's see. And then I thought, Hey, actually, you know, yeah, I'd really want to do this. This is, this is what I will, this is what I need.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, that's great. It's almost like you had to reconvince yourself. Like, yeah, this is what I want to do. Right. Okay.
Alan Turner: Yeah. I mean, know when, when it came down to it, I was 25, right. So I was still, I was still looking for the best deal, well I still am looking for the good things in life, but I mean, I was pretty sold on the idea of moving to the land of, of beer and sausages, to be honest with you, you know, that was, that was pretty much it.
Nicole (Host): That's hilarious. So, okay. So from the job offer to actually moving, how long would you say it took for you to emotionally feel ready to move? Was that just like, all right, you moved the next month or the next week? What was that like?
Alan Turner: It happened really quickly actually, for me probably, and that was probably a good thing, cause I didn't really have too much time to dwell over the idea.
I just had to sort of get my, get my things in motion, the company wanted me to start really quickly. And my existing employees in the UK where I'd been there quite a while. So they were really amenable to being quite flexible. And I think from memory, I, you know, instead of working my normal notice, they only forced me to work two weeks or something.
And I emptied all my, my rental house at the time was. My mom and dad's garage became a temporary storage unit because I just don't see the rental house and a bit of a hurry and dumped it all in my dad's garage. I got on a plane, and I, I literally left that time. I left the UK really with, with just a, a hold or a sports bag, full of stuff.
So I didn't really know whether it was going to be. What I expected or whether I was going to be back in two weeks time with my tail between my legs. Yeah. It happened really quickly, it happened really quickly.
Nicole (Host): What an adventure, right? I'm sure in the moment I know that's years ago, right. Like reflecting back, but I'm sure now it's like, wow, you, you took a bold move.
I'm moving to another country. And even though you just had, you know, just a small bag with you, still a great adventure.
Alan Turner: Yeah, it was, I mean, I, looking back knowing what I know now, there's a lot of things that I should have done there planning point of view from a, from just common sense, point of view.
And I, I didn't, I was, you know, a naive 25 year old and I just got on a plane and didn't really think about anything. I didn't think about shutting bank accounts down. I didn't think about, you know, what I had to do when I got there in terms of registering health care, all this sort of stuff. I just.
I'll just pack the bag up and got on a plane and, and sort of assume that everything was going to be done for me when I got there. It wasn't quite like that when I arrived, but I just sort of let the path kind of unfold in front of me really at that point.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. It's definitely a mind shift between traveling and just going and let things fall where they may versus.
Planning something out for a move abroad. So, what are some things you didn't expect to happen during your move?
Alan Turner: I didn't expect, people to be so helpful. To be honest. Yeah, it is really good. Yeah. I didn't expect, for one thing, it was a massive surprise to me when I arrived in Germany.
How many other Anglophone, you know, expats there were in, in that city? Yeah, that was immediately a surprise to me. How easy it was for me to sort of make, make friends and acquaintances and, and yeah, it was, it was incredibly surprising to me. The willingness that random people that I came across had to help me out.
I, I found it incredibly easy to find somewhere to live on the back of that, which was sort of a referral from, from one of my new colleagues. And that yeah, that incident happened really, really quickly, but yeah, you're right in what you say. Like the, the value in planning that I learned subsequently, you know, is a lesson I learned from that first experience for sure.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So the things you didn't expect a really positive. So tell me a little bit about like challenging aspect of coordinating your relocation.
Alan Turner: I've moved abroad. I've left my home country twice. So those two departures were, were very, very different because I left, I know if the UK first time around 2005 in the, in the manner that I've just described, I moved back to the UK in, in 2012, with my wife and we spent three years living in the UK.
And when we left again, second time around. That was an entirely conscious preplanned decision. We, we left because we very much wanted to return to being expats. And it was a, it was a proactive sort of process of trying to identify opportunities overseas to, to return to that situation rather than just tripping over an opportunity, which is what happened to me.
To me first time around. And I think the challenge is, the more complicated your life becomes, whether it's wife, children, and both of those things are inherently positive. By the way, when I say, when I say that life becomes complicated that's yes. Yeah. So, you know, as, as you grow older, your life matures and, and, and you, you grow a family and so forth, then.
And obviously moving domestically from one house to another is a, is a stressful event. So then, but then moving, across a border into another country that just accentuates that stress level, I suppose, what did we not expect? Well I think. The biggest challenge, logistically that I have faced to date was when moving from the UK out here to the, to the UAE, which was, which was in 2015, we, we thought we were pretty organized from a, from a shipping point of view, from a, yeah, from a container perspective, we had all our stuff picked up in good time.
We made our way over here, but the, the unpacking process, the receiving process of, of that, of that shipment. It was incredibly problematic. Yeah. We didn't see up. We didn't see our goods for, I think it was, it was about three months in the end, before we actually received the container load of stuff to our new home here in the UAE.
And when we did, you know, it was clear that the company that was doing the delivery was not the same company, did the collecting at the other end. And, and when it arrived here, there were, there was a lot of damage. There were boxes that were sort of half ripped and torn. And there were a few items that were broken inside.
Things hadn't really been placed on the truck, as we hoped we'd hope, you know, the truck, truck arrived and they were just boxes, haphazardly sort of thrown on top of each other. That was one of those sorts of heart drop moments, you know, where everything had gone pretty well. And then some, you know, high value stuff and things that we hold dear that might have not made the journey.
And that did set out to be the case and that, you know, you can never replace those things really. So, yeah. Yeah. so that was something, I suppose, that, yeah, we didn't expect and presented a challenge because. Yeah, just emotionally more than anything that didn't get us off to a good start in, in a new place, you know, and that's always, yeah, I'm sure a lot of expats can empathize with that.
That often when things start to go wrong, it just feels like they're begin to snowball. and, and it seems to be one thing after another, whether that's dealing with utilities in the place where you just arrived or whether that's, yeah. The relocation process, as I've just said, whether that's. Yeah, locating schools, whether it's to do with paperwork administration or whatever, it does feel that a lot of that comes is sort of snowball that you, when you first arrive and, sometimes it's difficult to come up for air.
So when something sort of, quite sort of out of the blue happens that is negative drag you down a little bit.
Nicole (Host): Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and it's such an unfortunate. Event, right? When you see that your personal belongings, you know, these are things that you cherish and they are meaningful and dear to your heart, you know, different things that you collect over the years.
So of course, to know that's the start of your move abroad, can really add some, you know, an emotional drain. And on top of the chaos that's already happening.
Alan Turner: Yeah, absolutely. But I, as you can, as you can probably sort of tell, maybe I do struggle actually to think of really sort of negative things that have happened in relation to my time abroad.
I mean, I've, I've lived abroad for a long time and it's now entirely through choice, not through necessity or. Yeah, I'm sure if I wanted to, I could probably find a place myself professionally back in the UK if that's what I wanted to do, but my wife and I are at one with the fact that we just prefer life, the way it is for us.
This was the exploration and the expat life. And we love it. We absolutely love it.
Nicole (Host): It's a beautiful experience for sure. I know all of our listeners as expats, or even people who are considering to move abroad, you know, they're hearing the stories of, of each individual journey and how it really just opens up a whole new life, a whole new, global perspective, and many cases.
People don't return back to their home country. And find where they are just as, or more rewarding than spent, you know, their, their younger years. So, very nice to hear. And of course, we don't like to just focus on the negative things, right? The challenging aspect, but almost very helpful for anyone who's moving abroad to understand what are some of the challenges to expect? Because in blogs and YouTube channels, there's so much of the perfect move abroad.
And there is no perfect move. you know, you hope everything's in place. You do the best you can to plan and coordinate and use different resources available, so that it can be a smooth transition. There's always going to be something along the way, but you know what, it's going to open your mind or give you a new, experience, so to say.
Alan Turner: Yes, you know, I think the best example of, of what you've just said there about changing your, your, your state of mind and all that sort of thing is. Going home becomes a really, really eye-opening experience. It really, really does. You know, you look upon where you come from in highly fresh pair of eyes, you know, a more broadened pair of eyes, probably, hopefully, probably a wiser pair of eyes, a more traveled pair of eyes. You not necessarily negatively. But yeah, you definitely, you definitely feel different than when you go home. That's for sure. Because when you, when you move abroad, whether it's through intention or otherwise initially, or this is certainly the case for me.
And I think it is for most people is initially that there's that sort of period where you are almost in holiday mode, everything's new. and you, you want to, you want to seek out the exciting stuff. You want to see where you've landed. You want to find all the cool places to go and, and for, for a period there's like that sort of perpetual holiday thing going on.
And you sort of ride on a high of that. I think for, for a while. And I think, I think there comes a point it's actually with some expats where we switched from being in that holiday mode to it, to it being just normal life. And I think some people struggle at that point because they realize, Oh, actually, you know, this is supposed to be my home now I need to behave normally and not just go out to restaurants every night and drink wine. Yeah. Some things, you know, and that. Yeah, it took me a while to adjust to the idea of that being of living a normal life rather than a holiday life as an expat. So say that, but your life does definitely change and you, your outlook changes and depending on where you're from that may then sort of lead to you, looking at where you come from, where the little bit of simplicity and a little bit of, well, what are these people still doing?
Stuck there kind of thing. That's how I felt. And I actually. I damaged a few relationships I'm intentionally I think just by not realizing how I was coming across and, and how I. Spoke about my new life and how I, how I, how I portrayed my new life. And I think, you know, there was a period where people were like, Oh yeah, we get it. We get it. Yeah, you’re having a great time abroad. You know, quit it, shut up sort of thing. That was, yeah. It was an element of that. Yeah, for sure.
Nicole (Host): What were somethings that they maybe didn't want to hear? Tell us a little bit more about that, because that's really interesting for people.
Alan Turner: Well, I mean, I was in Germany for, for 18 months and then I moved to Switzerland to Geneva. That's an awesome place to live. And there's so there's so much that that place gives. and it's not a million miles away from where, where you are yourself. Of course, in that part of the world and the opportunities you get in that part of the world too, you know, one weekend you can be.
You can be skiing down Montblanc, you know, the tallest mountain or one of the tallest mountains in the world. you, you know, you can be on a, on a train ride through the Alps. You can be on a, on a boat on Lake Geneva. and these things were sort of relatively normal things to me to be considering doing it the weekend and bear in mind also, this comes at a time around sort of mid two thousands where everyone started using stuff like Facebook. So. Yeah, me and my friends in Geneva, we, we were, we were just. Completely all over social media. Like my friends back home, we just flooded or photographs of me, you know, climbing up mountains and, and, you know, skiing, yeah, drinking wine on the Lake and all this sort of stuff.
And as I say, I think there's just a little bit of sort of envy and a bit of, who does he think he is kind of think does, does creep into that.
Nicole (Host): Very interesting. and, and it's very true, you know, everyone has their own dreams and desires and when they look at someone else that's fulfilling theirs. And taking the, the risk and the adventure to go abroad. It can certainly come across in a different way unintentionally. So making sure, just being cognizant of those, those things.
Alan Turner: I’ll tell you what's fascinating though. What I find fascinating is that because of what I do for my work, I spend quite a lot of time sort of researching stuff around.
Expats, what they need and what they want, and what they get up to and where they frequent and things like that. And some data I was looking at recently told me that roughly one in 10, well, they term highly skilled British people, lives overseas right now, now wanting 10, but yet none of my direct peers back home, I don't know any original UK friends who.
Considered even moving overseas. So I find that I don't know where all these people come from, because I know I don't, I don't know any other, other expats, honestly, I do. I know British expats now, but they weren't people I knew before I left. So, and that number is growing and I, I think we're all aware of the fact that.
Yeah, the generation, the younger generation, these days are just much more open to those sorts of opportunities and exploring the wider world for their career and things like that, which is great. so I think what I've just described about this or envy factor and the, and that sort of thing is perhaps a little bit less prevalent now because let's face it with the way social media is, has evolved to things like Snapchat and Instagram everybody's lives are photographed all over. Yeah. It doesn't matter what you do.
Nicole (Host): Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point. Okay. Very good point. All right. So, okay. Now looking back, what would you have done differently and planning your move?
Alan Turner: Well, I would have taken, I would have sought out advice from people who had done something similar. And even, even though, even if I didn't know anyone in my direct sort of network of people, friends who had moved, I would probably now seek out somebody, proactively who they gave me some advice about how to do this.
I would. Absolutely again, knowing what I know now. And, and it's easy to say because I work in finance, but I would absolutely tidy up my loose ends from that perspective. it's not a good thing to leave bank accounts open all over the place. So it's not a, not a good thing to leave administration of any type, certainly not financial administration sort of untidy.
And you know, that that even just sort of moving overseas with. An outstanding balance on a credit card or something. Not suggesting that yeah, there'd be any intention not to pay that off or anything that, but just the potential problem that then come about with you trying to carry on paying that credit card from a foreign bank account or, or whatever.
Yeah, you, you just caused yourself problems by, by not cleaning up your, your sort of admin as you go really. And that's something that experience teaches you to do, I suppose. that's something that I would. Try and be on top of him as I've got older, I'm now a huge planner. My life lives on XL, spread sheets, and everything is very, very organized.
and. I think that's probably what it requires. If you want to keep stress to a minimum, you know, when you do relocate overseas,
Nicole (Host): I mean, it sounds like you have so much experience now having moved, alone, and then with your wife, and how all of that has actually contributed now and how you in turn help expats on the financial side.
So do you mind sharing a little bit about that? I'm sure our listeners are curious to know how. How your work ties into things.
Alan Turner: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't in the financial industry when I left UK first time around, it was, was sort of career change in terms of industry. And, you know, I've, I've now worked for that last period of time, which is yeah, about 15 years, as you said, in international financial advice.
So, I worked for a company that specifically provides that technical. Financial and retirement planning advice to people who do live overseas, predominantly British expatriates. Most of our workforce are British advisors and it's sort of UK centric advice that we give with regards to your sort of future planning, inheritance, planning, tax, planning, all that sort of stuff.
And again, you know, I guess sort of. Associated with what I was just saying about planning, the learning experience and exposure to what the advisor, the technical guys do at our company for our clients really has helped me understand how to deal with my own personal family. So planning, planning stuff, and there, just to sort of sum up, I suppose what I mean is most people with their financial planning, it comes down to basically comes down to retirement. That's what everybody is sort of planning to move but be it domestic way. Or if you're an expat, you'll be trying to reach that goal. Whether it's a figure or whatever, to be able to call yourself financially independent and not have to work any longer.
If you're living in the country that you always have lived in, and that's a very linear planning experience. Yeah. You know, that you're always going to live in the UK or the US or wherever you're from. you're going to work in that country and you're, you're going to retire and probably die in that country and that's, it you'd don’t have to consider too many complications on that.
As soon as you decide to take your life overseas, that takes on a completely different dimension, because you didn't know how long that's going to be for, you’re probably earning in a different currency, to, to the one that your, you know, it’s existing in back in your home country. You've probably don't have a fixed timeframe to, to that time abroad. So, you will have uncertainty about whether you should be leaving accounts, investments, pensions, property, you know, should you leave those things where you it came from or should you liquidate them all.
Yeah. What's, what's the best thing to be doing, you know, as, as time goes on and you start to. Think about retirement planning you then thinking, well, where am I going to retire? When I eventually reached that sort of golden egg age? Am I going to be back in the UK or am I, am I going to end up trying to retire where I am now or wherever, whatever country that tends to be, or take my example.
That's a real example. I've since married a Canadian. So, as a sort of open ended, situation for us, we have no idea where we're going to retire. We could retire back in the UK where I still have family connections. We could choose to retire in Canada. We may end up falling in love with somewhere completely different. And this that's where, where are we going to call home? But yeah. the more time you spend as an expat abroad, the more uncertainties actually start to, to exist. and yeah, without wanting to sort of put a negative into this, but as that builds, yeah. Well, all the while you're living this great life abroad and you're really enjoying yourself and, you know, developing as a person, culturally, etcetera, The older you get, actually that little thing in your brain starts to build up a bit of a concern and anxiety.
It's like, hang on, you know, I'm 35 now I'm 40. Now I'm 45. Now hang on on 50. Now, you know, this, this is a real thing. Where, what are we going to do? Where are we going to end up? You know? And you start to sort of think about that. And, so, so that's, that's what my company does. That's what, it's why we exist.
And yeah, we just have experienced guys who in a sort of cross border planning and multiple jurisdiction, planning’s help people prepare for what might be one of three or four different events, realities, and not be damaged by that.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks, so much for sharing that because you know, a lot of our listeners who maybe are planning their move abroad are also looking at retirement and, and, considering those factors. Right? Because it does play a really big part, like you said, it's, it's not just going to be a linear path anymore. Now you just added so many dynamics. To what could be your future retirement or how to be financially independent. So that's really important for people to think about and plan accordingly.
So, thanks for those tips and even on making sure, you know, you don't leave bank accounts open, or whether it's good to leave that open in their home country or whether it should be close. So, there's a lot of different things and tips that people can take as they plan their move abroad. So that was a really good one.
Alright, so just to wrap up, I like to ask this random question. Where's the best city you visited?
Alan Turner: Best city I visited is, Budapest in Hungary, which I absolutely adore. I've been there. as a single person I've been there as a married person. I've been there. As, as a family and my expectations, every time always be met of how we've enjoyed our time there.
And I find, I like places that are a little bit, as I described it a little bit rough around the edges and Budapest is kind of familiar. It's like Paris for the road cleaners and all the maintenance guys just left Paris for about six months. Budapest, it is kind of what Paris would deteriorate into, if no one did any, did any maintenance work for a while.
And I mean the best way possible things aren't sort of perfect. And, but you, you just discover these sort of gems hidden away in sort of alleyways, little restaurants, little boutiques, little, Snuck away corners of the city where, you just find, find secrets. And I like the fact that there's a lot of, a lot of beautiful historic, but you know, slightly sad buildings in that city that just have a real, a real sort of dark beauty about them.
Not unlike Prague actually, but fewer tourists and Prague.
Nicole (Host): Love it. Thanks for sharing about that. Alright. So, how can our listeners find you on social?
Alan Turner: You can find me on, on Twitter, my handle @expatallen, or one word. yeah. And that's also my Instagram handle as well. And, and yeah, I'm pretty active on other channels as, as myself and my company, Austin capital, we know we have pretty healthy social media following and, and, share quite a lot of interesting stuff related to expat.
So, so look us up.
Nicole (Host): Perfect. And we'll also include it in the description. So, if anyone wants to get in touch with you, Allen, they can know where to, to reach you. So, thanks so much for being on the show. So exciting to learn about your journey, and I'm excited to see how it continues to unfold and your adventure continues.
So, thanks so much again for being on the show.
Alan Turner: No worries. Thanks very much Nicole.