It’s not uncommon to dream of escaping work for a while to immerse yourself in the culture of a far-off country.
For Chad Carson, a 37-year-old who lives entirely off passive rental income, that’s reality.
On a recent episode of the Mad Fientist podcast, Carson, who recently moved to Ecuador with his wife and two young daughters, explained how he was able to build wealth and create passive income after starting with just $1,000 in savings after graduating college in 2003.
He used “house-hacking” and “live-and-flips” to increase savings and maximise earnings, and by 2007 he and his business partner owned 50 rental properties. Save for a few setbacks during the financial crisis, Carson continued growing his portfolio over the past decade, and today he manages 90 rental properties, mostly in and around his hometown in Clemson, South Carolina.
“Rental properties are wonderful for building wealth … [but] they’re not going to produce a lot of income on the front-end — at least not consistently — because you might make $200 a month on a rental property, but then what happens if a year and a half from now, the heating and the air system goes out on that rental property? That’s a $4,000 to $5,000 hit,” Carson said. “And so really, the rental property game, as opposed to flipping properties, is all about generating big chunks of cash that you can use to pay your bills, and hopefully, to save money.”
For his part, Carson was able to take the money he earned from house-hacking and flipping and use it for down payments on rental properties and to build up his nest egg.
Now after several years of hustling, Carson lives entirely off rental income from his properties. With a little help from his business partner and bookkeeper back home, Carson spends just three to five hours in a typical week — the occasional “high weeks” are more like 15 to 20 hours — managing his rental portfolio, he said.
“In my mind, the game of rental properties is eventually getting it free and clear of debt, so that you have a very low risk, high income investment that allows you to go to Ecuador and do whatever else you’re going to do with your life — leave your job or have a little independence to do other things,” he said.
Before their move, Carson said they spent six months decluttering their home and selling off old belongings to make it suitable for renters.
“Part of our preparation to leave for Ecuador last year was to get our primary residence rented out. We’re kind of up in the air … we can move back into that house afterwards if it made sense. But we’re also open to the fact that we can just own 100% of our properties as investments, and then spend a lot of time just renting properties,” Carson said.
But despite his success in real estate, Carson isn’t interested in dipping into the market in Ecuador. “[T]here’s no way I want to buy anything anywhere in a foreign country. I’m totally a local investor. I like to look at it and understand the market. I can’t understand enough here — the political system, everything else — about buying. Some people do, but it’s just not my thing,” he said.
Rather, the family’s motivation for spending a year living in a foreign country came from a favourite book of Carson’s called “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of World Travel.”
“It’s about long-term travel, but not travel in terms of just like going and seeing some sights, and checking them off your list and doing everything really fast. But more like in a really slow, enriching way. You might not make it past one city or another country. You just go to one place, and you’re really going to soak it in and travel slowly,” Carson said, adding that the family of four will hopefully leave Ecuador fluent in Spanish.
Check out CoachCarson.com for more of Carson’s tips creating passive income in real estate investing.
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