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Will I still be able to make contributions towards my Roth IRA? If working for a US company over there isn't an option, would it be possible to come back to the States on vacation and work in order to qualify? If not, what are some other long-term investment vehicles that I should consider as an ex-patriot living abroad?

What company you work could matter but mostly wouldn't (unless it's the U.S. gov. or some gov't-based contract that means your income isn't "foreign"), but France does have a tax treaty with the US so you'd do well to become familiar with it.

Otherwise, to qualify for a Roth, the trick is to make more money than you exclude. Again, check your specific treaty, but for 2001 the foreign income exclusion limit will be $78,000. You may also be eligible to either exclude or deduct housing expenses, depending on which option is more advantageous. Get some reference figures to use for projection & do the math (forms 2555, 1116, Pub 54 and 514).

Yes, making $2,000+ while on vacation back in the US will also qualify you, but be careful you don't jeopardize your foreign income exclusion by overstaying your home leave. For the first year, you need to show you were in residence for 330 out of 365 days AND intending to stay long-term.

France is a very expensive place to live, tax-wise--rates are higher there. Know what you'll be subject to before you go. I believe the IRS site has at least summary information about current tax treaties...

Finally, calling yourself an "ex-patriot" may endear you to the French, but not to your local US embassy. Expats are mostly expatriates.

have fun,
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