How You Could Benefit From A Foreign Affair


The grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. 

At least, that’s what more than 7 million Americans must think.  Many packed their bags with kids in tow. They jumped on planes, trains or automobiles and left the United States.

You might even know some of them.  A middle class family in your neighborhood disappears one day.  Ten years later, they come back.  A jealous neighbor pulls you aside.  “God knows where John and Lucy just came from.  They paid cash for their new home. They don’t owe a penny on their two new Audis. 

Does it remind you of Breaking Bad?”

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Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions.

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7 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    Hello Andrew,

    The link provided does not work.

  2. CNA Training says:

    Hi Sam,

    Seems working fine on my side. Did you tired again?

  3. Jerry says:

    I am a Canadian at the end of a 24 year sojourn as an expatriate. By my lights and that of my accountant I have done everything required by CRA to keep things entirely above board. Now…….. I wish to return and I wish to repatriate the earnings I have made here to facilitate life in Canada. My accountant says no problem provided those funds arrive in Canada before me and I do the appropriate reporting in the tax year following my arrival. And yet, and yet….. it is a great deal of capital and any unforeseen tax demand would materially affect the remainder of my life.

    Have you ever heard of anyone losing out to CRA after returning, despite the best of their intentions to completely abide by all the rules?

    • Hi Jerry,

      It sounds like you have dotted all your i’s and t’s, which is good. No, I have not heard of any horror stories, in this respect. Revenue Canada should be good to you. They know that you could feasibly continue to hide your money in an offshore account. But if you are honestly bringing the money back to Canada, to be taxed from that point forward, they are going to be thrilled with you. Your accountant is right. You should be fine. You will only pay taxes on that money, based on the gains earned on the account, AFTER it lands in Canada.


  4. Jerry says:

    Just finished reading the book. Loved the style and loved the content even more.

    I am curious about one thing. You are adamant that Canadians should not have holdings on US exchanges to avoid exposure to death duties, yet many of your counterparts on other blogs never mention this risk. I am thinking of the Canuck Couch Potato who often alludes to Canadians holding US securities directly for any number of minor reasons. I am interested for selfish (of course ) reasons – if I am repatriating USD to Canada when I return there and wish to have some US exposure, is it really advisable to convert several hundred thousand USD into CAD for the sole reason of buying something like VUN when I could simply by the US Vanguard equivalent and save the exchange spread?

    Now I reveal my naiveté: if I were to just buy VTI and hold it in the my Canadian securities account how would the American authorities even know of my death, much less collect anything from my estate?

  5. David Harris says:

    Just repatriated 20 years of investment growth to Canada. As it was all in USD, I am very happy with the Fx gain that I received. Over the 20 years, USD has been stronger than CAD so, if you are being paid in USD, I would keep your investments in USD. The cycle will continue so the time to convert to CAD is when the USD is strong and my plan is to go from CAD back to USD if and when the CAD gets back to par. As for the repatriation of the funds, his accountant said the same as mine. Once I get back into Canada, I will reinvest using a local online brokerage firm.

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