Crossborder Investing 101

I try to keep our approach to crossborder investing as simple as possible, but there are some unavoidable complications. We are Americans who have moved to Canada as permanent residents, but a lot of what I’m going to cover would apply to Americans living in other countries as well. I’ll also try to include information relevant to the flipside — folks from other countries living in America where appropriate, but that isn’t my area of expertise.

As I write this, I’m assuming a certain baseline investment knowledge. For example, I’m going to assume you know what an ETF is and what I mean when I say asset allocation. If you don’t, a couple of resources I recommend are the Boglehead’s wiki (for the US side of things, although they do also have non-US information) and Finiki.org (for the Canadian side of things).

Some context: our investing philosophy is focused on low-cost index funds. I have tried other things along the way (individual stocks, actively managed mutual funds, and peer-to-peer lending to name a few) but 1) I’ve come to accept that neither I nor any fund managers can reliably beat the market, 2) the main thing I can (and should) control are the fees that I pay and 3) there is real value in simplicity. We’ve never invested in real estate (other than owning our own home) so that isn’t something I’ll cover. I’m also not planning to talk about options, crypto or gold, but if I end up investing in them, I’ll share my experiences.

Table of Contents

  1. Crossborder Implications of US Accounts
  2. Crossborder Implications of Canadian Accounts
  3. Moving Money Across the Border
  4. Choosing Brokerages
  5. Deciding on an Asset Allocation
  6. Evaluating Fund Fees
  7. Choosing Specific Funds for Your Portfolio
  8. Avoiding PFICs
  9. Consolidating 403b Contracts