Ever fantasize about throwing a toothbrush and a bathing suit in a suitcase and taking off?
One of the beautiful things about real estate investing is that you can.
Nowhere in the “Real Estate Investing Handbook” does it say that you have to live next to your rental investment properties. I picked up one day and moved to Abu Dhabi, in large part because I had rental properties generating income for me back home in Baltimore!
Nor do you need a massive portfolio of investment properties. Some of the travelers below don’t even own one full investment property – they rent out rooms in their home, including their own, when they’re off sailing the seven seas!
Here are four quick snapshots of real estate investors who use their rental income to subsidize or entirely cover their travel expenses, without huge portfolios of investment properties. Forget the stereotype of wealthy real estate investing moguls; most of these investors live modest lifestyles on modest income from their modest investment property portfolios.
Lucio Rossi – The Live-In Airbnb Model
Lucio is a real estate agent and writer at ThePowerMoves.com.
He owns exactly one unit, and it’s not exactly your classic investment property. It’s his two-bedroom home, where he lives when he’s not traveling. He rents the other bedroom out on Airbnb, and the rental income covers his entire mortgage and leaves some for other purposes.
“When I travel, I also rent my own room, and with two different renters in one single-family I cover a major chunk of my traveling costs.”
According to Lucio, one of the secrets to his success is putting a system in place for renters to check themselves in and out, while making sure a backup plan is in place. “You need to have a family member or a friend in the same building (or neighborhood) – or you can make a friend! They will make sure things run smoothly and clean the place in between. If you have Italian mamas like I do, they’ll be happy to do it for free!”
Pretty easy, right? And you thought you needed a massive portfolio of investment properties to go travel the world?!
Damian Bergamaschi – The Real Estate Investing Syndication Model
Damian doesn’t own any investment properties by himself.
Instead, he brought some friends and family together and pooled their money to collaboratively buy investment properties.
“As aggressive savers, my wife and I save about 85% of our after-tax take-home income. I wanted to be able to improve my lifestyle… absolute terminal wealth at a late stage in life didn’t seem like a motivating goal.”
Damian spent a couple of years researching real estate investing before ever buying an investment property. He noticed that there was an economy of scale at work when it came to purchasing and managing rental properties.
“The cost to enter (for the type of investment we wanted to make) was staggering, so I formed a fund to pool capital with friends, family, and outside investors.”
And his results?
“I am now generating almost $3,000 a month in near tax-free cash flow from my initial investment of $250,000 (just shy of a 15% tax-free cash on cash return). On top of that, the principle value of the properties has grown materially as rents have increased dramatically from value creation strategies on the properties.”
What does he do with his syndicated investment property income?
Damian’s last trip was to the Seychelles and Dubai. Before that, it was Bora Bora and Hawaii.
“My first child is on the way, and I no longer operate ‘scared’ about bills. I can just focus on growing top line revenue because the rent comes in every month.”
Damian continues to buy more investment properties through his company Damris Capital and loves every minute of it.
Eric Bowlin – The Classic “Big” Investment Property Portfolio
A bit ago, we shared Eric’s story of reaching financial independence through his rental investment properties after only a few short years.
Spoiler alert: Eric is retired. In his thirties.
While we won’t rehash how Eric built his portfolio of 35 rental properties, he made a specialty of buying small multifamily investment properties that cash flowed well. His focus? Maximum passive income from his real estate investments.
Over the last few years, Eric and his wife have traveled several months each year. “In 2015 I took two separate one-month vacations. In 2016 there were two more one-month trips.”
Eric and his wife “slowed down a bit in 2017” and decided to split their time between their new home in Texas and their home town in Massachusetts.
And in the first half of this year? They’ve already spent five weeks in China and Japan.
I asked Eric about managing his investment properties long-distance. “Being a long-distance landlord is difficult at times because there is no ‘force’ or personality pushing contractors along to get things done. Most 1-3-man crews aren’t as motivated to get things done as the property owner is, and they usually need to be pushed. So, everything seems to cost more and take longer when doing it at a distance.”
This says nothing of managing tenants and rentals. “Dealing with major problems at a distance is very stressful. We had a pipe burst and about three feet of water in a basement at one building, and we were completely helpless to do anything about it besides sit and wait and hope our person would get it done.” It’s not always rainbows and butterflies owning rental properties, right?
Today, Eric writes about his experiences as a landlord at IdealREI.com.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt – The “Rent-and-Go” Free Travel Model
If you read Eric’s story and thought “I don’t know if I could buy 35 rental properties in five years like he did,” don’t get too intimidated just yet.
Kelly owns exactly one rental property in Santa Monica, CA. It was her home – before she hit the road and started housesitting to permanently travel and live for free.
“I bought my home right after 9/11 and lived in it until I decided to take a sabbatical from my career. Renting it has allowed me to travel, as long as I live elsewhere without paying for accommodations. So, I housesit!”
What I love about Kelly’s experience is that it goes to show that you don’t need a massive income from your rental properties to travel indefinitely. She lives for free, travels, and writes about it on her website at HouseSitDiva.com.
All on a single rental property’s income.
“I’ve housesat in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Gibraltar, throughout Africa, Hanoi, Osaka, Kuala Lumpur – even Ya’an, a village in China where I was the only non-Asian face I saw for a week! I’m now in Ajijic, Mexico, where I housesit every spring.”
How cool is that?
Lessons from Landlords Living Large on Less
You don’t need a million dollars to retire. Or to go travel the world as a real estate investor.
If you don’t own any investment properties yet, it all starts with your first property. Start by researching investment properties‘ returns. If you do it right, you might even be able to travel the world on income from that single investment property!
Especially if you travel frugally.
Buying a house with a white picket fence, a dog named Fido, and a suburban commute to the office? Think of it as 20th century mythology rather than a formula for living your life. Sure, you can do it, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But it’s one option among thousands, not a prescription for happiness.
Why not become a real estate investor instead and go see the world with the income from your rental properties?
What kind of traveling would you like to do with rental property income? How much rental income do you think you’ll need to do the traveling you’d like to do?