Saving and investing for a US citizen in Europe
September 24, 2017 1:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm a US citizen, currently living in Europe but hoping to return to the US within a few years. I have money in a savings account, but the interest rate is very low, so I'm looking for advice on saving or investing the money in a smarter way.

I'm a 36-year-old US citizen living in the Netherlands. Thanks to a pay bump last year, my savings account has grown to €41,000, but the interest rate is only 0.2%. Obviously, I need to do something about this. However, I hope to move back to the US in 2018 or 2019, so I'm not sure what to do.

I have $43,000 in a Roth IRA, currently managed by Edward Jones. I haven't contributed to the IRA since I left the US almost 10 years ago. I also have a Dutch pension, of course.

A friend recommended Transferwise, so I've thought about transferring the money (in batches?) and putting it into my IRA. I've also thought about opening an account with Vanguard Netherlands, but I'm worried about the difficulty and expense of accessing those funds from the US in the future.

Any advice on saving and investing across borders is appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I lived abroad I just kept open my U.S. bank accounts and transferred to them. The U.S. has lots of online, low-fee, high interest bank accounts offered by banks like Ally. Does Europe have anything similar? Can you open a Vanguard money market account during one of your trips back to the U.S.? Hopefully you maintain a U.S. PO Box so you can receive mail easily. There are virtual post office boxes that will scan all your mail and allow you to view it or have you forwarded it to no matter where you are. Even with the higher interest rates, though, it's unlikely you will earn a significant amount unless you are planning to put over $100k into a CD or something. And could you possibly make more money simply by converting from Euros to dollars at the right times?
posted by KatNips at 4:22 PM on September 24, 2017

Contact Vanguard Netherlands and ask them what would be involved in transferring your account to the US Vanguard at some point in the future.
posted by metahawk at 6:09 PM on September 24, 2017

This question is open ended and hard enough you're not getting much answer. One suggestion; look to HSBC for international retail banking, they make it very easy to transfer money between countries. One advice: consider whether you want to save your money in US dollars or Euros. You can try to be smarter than the market but will likely be wrong, so the general advice is "save in the currency you need to spend in" (dollars, it sounds like). Finally one bit of warning: US tax law makes it very awkward for other countries to provide banking and investment services to Americans. If you find European places dragging their feet, that's why.
posted by Nelson at 10:36 AM on September 25, 2017

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