What to do with USD savings as a non-US person?

Hi there,

I hope some of you finance wizs can help me out here. I am a German national and lived and worked in the US for almost 2 years. I managed to save about $100k in a regular bank account, plus some money in a Roth 401K and an HSA. I recently got laid off and left the US. Now I'm wondering what to do about my USD savings. Unfortunately, no one in my family can advise me, and I'm a few digits short of financial advisor territory.

For the 401K, I read somewhere that I can transfer this to an IRA account and then I should be able to withdraw these funds without US penalty after 5 years. Is there any downside to just leaving it in my ex-employers 401K? It's in a fidelity account. HSA: I read online that you can also use an HSA to pay for health costs abroad and I do have a debit card for it. However, from next year on, I have no tax obligation in the USA anymore. I do plan on getting some dental work done in the coming year, so would ideally like to use this money for that purpose. Does anyone have experience with that? Finally, for my cash savings: I fear BoA could freeze my account if I try to transfer the whole sum abroad via Wise or Revolut. What is the best way to get this cash over to CH or Germany? I'm not in urgent need of those funds right now, so if it makes more sense tax wise to wait with something until the next year, please let me know. I currently don't see myself living in the US again, so keeping the bulk of my savings in USD doesn't seem to make much sense.

Grateful for any input you can give me.

Probably better to ask on a Germany related forum as the tax laws etc are very different.

True, but I'm hoping to find a job again in CH early next year, so wondering if I can just kick the can down the road a few more months. Currently unemployed.

You probably don’t need to move accounts, unless the relevant financial institutions are difficult to deal with from overseas. For example, Vanguard at one point required that I set up second factor authorization to maintain online access, and the only acceptable second factor was a US telephone number.

If you need or want to move, Interactive Brokers is an option. They can hold dollars and dollar-denominated assets, including retirement accounts, accept domestic dollar wires (to a US bank), etc. They are based in both London and NYC, I can confirm that they are set up to deal with clients in CH and would expect them to cover DE clients similarly well. One caveat though is that my situation is a bit different, as I am, so far, still a US person, which might change some details.

Re cash: why do you think BoA will freeze the money if you try to transfer them? 100k should be nothing unprecedented for a bank. Do you think they will stop it as a suspicious activity? I'd imagine you should be able to clear the misunderstanding then. If you are concerned, you can do multiple smaller transactions too (although this will likely multiple the transaction costs that are normally present with USD transfers).

If you plan soon to invest the money into stocks / funds - then it might make sense to keep them in USD as most of the financial instruments are traded in USD. Otherwise you are indeed right - keeping USD cash just exposes you to uncompensated currency risk. You should convert the money into the currency in which you will most likely spend it (and find a place that will give you some interest: bonds, fixed-term deposits or just savings/checking accounts)

Well if you are a green card holder you may find the Swiss financial services sector may not be enthusiastic about taking you on, especially if you are not resident yet.

Jim is right.

The decryption of the message is that "US person" (citizens or green card holders) are not welcome in many Swiss banks. Banks start to consider US persons clients when talking about 200-250k CHF deposits. The minimum savings amount is due to the extra costs imposed to comply with US FATCA regulation.

But, (i) if you're resident in Germany, (ii) have a German bank account, you can open a Swiss bank account with many online banks around here.

I was just wondering if there are any tax implication with keeping the accounts, I just wouldn't want to overcomplicate my life by keeping some accounts in the US despite no other ties to the country.

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check out Interactive Brokers. I thought it's only for things like buying ETFs. I guess I should also check with Fidelity since I already have accounts with them.

I read a few articles such as this NYT one about banks in the US creating “suspicious activity reports” for basically anything really and closing people’s accounts. So I was just pessimistic and fearing transferring 100K to an account abroad could trigger something like that.

I’m not necessarily thinking about investing the money in stocks/funds as I would like to purchase an apartment within the next 5 years. Also, I despise that by investing, I basically participate in the capitalistic destruction of this planet, but I guess that participation is somewhat inevitable no matter where I put this money.

Thanks, Jim and Axa! I do not have a green card (had an L1B visa while I was in the US), and I lived in Switzerland for 6 years before moving to the US. I was able to keep my accounts with UBS while I was in the US, so thankfully establishing a banking relationship in CH is not something I have to worry about. From 2024 on, I will not meet the substantial presence test and as I see it, have no ties to the US anymore beyond these accounts listed.

Anyone have any experience with using their HSA while abroad and not subject to US taxes anymore?