Author Topic: Investing as an American Abroad  (Read 1595 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 22
Investing as an American Abroad
« on: December 22, 2015, 01:33:28 AM »
Hello Dear MMM Forum,

Long-time listener, first time caller; love the show, yadda yadda. ;)  I've been reading MMM for about three months now and have almost worked through the entire list of posts.  This is my first time hitting the forum and my first post.

I have a question for all the mustaschians out there, but first some background:
I've done some research around the web and scanned the forums here for possible information on how to invest as an American living abroad (specifically in Germany, see username).

Thus far I have come to the conclusion that it is too risky to invest outside of the US due to the tax implications (reporting and taxes levied) even if I were able to (many financial institutions in Germany don't want to deal with the FACTA regulations).  But even investing in the US has its hurdles: I do not have the option to invest in 401k or IRA in the US and many financial institutions in the US do not allow Americans living abroad to invest in taxable investments (mutual funds, etc.) as company policy due to the extra leg-work required in getting such investment vehicles approved in a foreign country.

However, I have found two options:
1) Many people in this forum have investment accounts (e.g. Vanguard) from before moving abroad.
2) Some companies offer their services to Americans abroad, but most require a large net worth (>$500,000).  There is one company that accepts customers at a lower threshold ($50,000) - Asset Builder (

And we've finally arrived at my question(s): which option would you guys and gals recommend?

- Should I open a Vanguard account and use my parents' US address (my mom is on point with any paperwork coming my way)?  How much paperwork does one need to do to start an account and would I be able to get everything set up in a two-week visit home?

- Or go with Asset Builder with their approach which they can tailor towards Americans living abroad?  Does anyone have any experience with Asset Builder at all?  I haven't been able to find much information on them.

Thanks in advance for reading and any suggestions/experiences you can share.  I feel bad dropping such a doozy on you guys as my first post, but we all have to start somewhere.  :)

Greetings from Germany,


  • Walrus Stache
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  • Posts: 5196
Re: Investing as an American Abroad
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2015, 02:12:15 AM »
You could also signup for electronic delivery options at Vanguard, which will help reduce the paperwork they send you.  Alternatively, the most affordable virtual mailbox I've found is $15/month:
They give you a US address, and you can view scans of your incoming mail.  That would also let you get immediate access as your mail arrives, without bothering your parents.

I haven't used "Interactive Brokers", but their name tends to come up when ex-pats mention investing while overseas.  According to their website, they trade on many exchanges in Germany.  If Vanguard doesn't work out overseas, you could buy Vanguard ETFs using interactive brokers.