BiggerPockets Podcast 035: Quitting Your Job, Lifestyle Design, and Being a Traveling Landlord with Paula Pant

by |

On today’s Podcast, we sit down with blogger, investor, BiggerPockets contributor, and perhaps “the most interesting woman in the world”- Paula Pant. Paula has a unique perspective on personal finance that is helping her build a strong buy-and-hold portfolio while maintaining freedom and mobility that most only dream of. This interview is sure to fascinate, entertain, and give some great real estate investing advice that you can use in your own life.

Read the transcript to episode 35 with Paula Pant here.

Listen to The Show on iTunes (Preferred Method!)

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

In This Show, We Cover

BiggerPockets Podcast _ Real Estate Investing and Wealth Building 9.42.11 AM

  • How traveling the world for two years led Paula to real estate
  • Tips for managing tenants while on vacation
  • How to avoid “creative accounting
  • Paying yourself when managing your own properties
  • Paula’s definition of “financial freedom
  • Why pinching pennies might actually hurt you
  • What “Lifestyle Design” is – and how to do it
  • How to quit your job and start living a life you want
  • Tips for saving for that first rental
  • Benefits of blogging about your investing

Links From the Show

Books from the Site:

Tweetable Topics

Theres a difference between active income and passive income. Know that difference. (Tweet This!)

If I can make, in passive income, as much as the average us household earns – that’s financial freedom. (Tweet This!)

Life is too precious to spend it doing something you hate. (Tweet This!)

Blogging helps you clarify what you should be doing as a real estate investor. (Tweet This!)

Connect with Paula

Paula’s Blog:

Paula’s BiggerPockets Profile

About Author

Thanks for checking out the BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing & Wealth Building Podcast. Hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner strive to bring top-notch educational content and interviews to our listeners -- without the non-stop pitch prevalent around the industry. With over 180,000 listeners per show, the BiggerPockets Podcast has become the biggest real estate podcast in the world. But don’t take our word for it. We’re the top-rated and reviewed real estate show on iTunes — check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!


  1. Quick Tip: Do NOT play the Bigger Pockets drinking game when listening to the podcast in your car!

    Question for Paula: if you were a freelance employee, how much down payment on your triplex did you have to put down? I thought freelance/1099 employees could not have their income counted unless they were working at least 3 years. Aren’t freelance/1099 employees given more scrutiny when getting a loan? Or, because it was owner-occupied, did that make a difference?

    • Yep … I go into all the sordid details on my blog. Long story short, for that first property, we had to meet with a LOT of banks, and beg and plead and charm and smile and impress and cajole.

      The issue wasn’t that I was a freelancer, though … the issue was that I had just spent 2 years overseas, not working. These days, although I’m self-employed, I’ve been ‘in the workforce’ for long enough that I don’t get any special scrutiny.

  2. It’s refreshing to hear someone who sounds like me who lives for travel! I’ve always loved to travel and live overseas and I agree the best way to do that is by real estate. I’ve thought about other ways to generate flexible/passive income like an internet business, etc. but cashing a rent check is so much easier.

    My husband and I are one more rental away from living on passive income 100% but I just can’t get/find this deal. (I know we eventually will.) We will be on the next plane to Spain living on Mediterranean (sea view rental is only $700/mo!)

    (Can I put in a plug for my travel blog? The blog and travel hacking are my hobby besides real estate.)

    Great Podcast and maybe I’ll meet Paula somewhere on the beach!

  3. Thought this was a great podcast too! And I love Paula’s outlook on real estate investing. I am a firm believer in the idea that if you really want to accomplish something then you will make the time for it. We are all going to face problems, run into obstacles and hit roadblocks as we push through life. However, we should never let that deter us. We shouldn’t look at a problem and say “this cannot be done.” We should look at a problem and say “how can I make this work?” Attitude, outlook and determination have a great deal to do with this.

  4. Paula, great interview – Question in regard to hiring a temporary PM while you travel – how did you find a PM that was willing to do this temporary work (are they professional office or another investor you networked with?) and how did you establish the fee for this? Also if you don’t mind sharing the fee you usually pay for say a week away, and x properties you have that they would potentially need to deal with.
    Thank you!

    • I just asked a “regular” PM if they’d be willing to do this, and I offered a payment of 10 percent of the “weekly” rental rate for the properties involved (for a one-week trip). So, for example, if a unit rents for $800/mo, then its weekly rental rate is $184, and 10 percent goes to the interim PM.

  5. Here’s another idea–On long trips of over a month in length I have paid a fellow real estate agent $25/hour with a 2 hour min. to handle things–usually repairs. On a five-month trip we did while owning 4 units I only paid out $300 to him. Maybe the agent who sold the property to you would be willing to do something like that.

  6. Very inspirational, energetic, passionate podcast! Thank you Paula…you have rejuvenated me.

    Proof is in the pudding in the fact that it is how you question the challenge. Instead of saying “I can’t” and instead say “how can I?” changes your way of thinking and brings solutions to the problem at hand. I started to think this way a few years ago & it has never steered me wrong and I have made great strides in my life because of it!!


  7. Great podcast Paula.
    I absolutely love your attitude and philosophy on life.
    I think a lot of times people need to recalibrate to think about WHY they wanted to gain passive income in the first place. If it isn’t leading to eventual freedom and a better life long term then there is no point, but at the same time if you are working yourself to death and aren’t enjoying anything you need to figure out what you are doing wrong.
    Getting into this field should not make you miserable!

    • I totally agree, Shaun! I recently spent some time contemplating the age-old “pay down my rental houses vs. buy more?” question, with a specific eye towards “some passive income in my 30’s or even more passive income in my 60’s?” It became a lifestyle question … and at the end of the day, lifestyle design is WHY we’re all in this game.

  8. On a more earth shattering topic…
    End of the “Quuiiiiiiicck Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiip”?????

    Devastating…. 🙁

    @Brandon and @Josh you should make a montage of all the acapella free styling intros of it from all the shows. Put it on Youtube with like a slide show of a bunch of buddy pictures of you guys. That would totally go viral. 🙂

  9. Great episode. Paula, you’re an inspiration and living the life many of us want to lead.

    A couple questions (sorry if I missed them on the podcast):

    1. Do you put each rental in an LLC?
    2. Do you have a separate bank account for each rental?
    3. Do you take money out of each rental’s monthly income to pay your own bills?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Steph — I don’t create a seperate LLC and checking account for each house, because a) it’s too cumbersome to tend to that level of administration, b) I frequently buy things that can be used at multiple houses (e.g. a circular saw), and c) I’ve heard that it runs the risk of a judge “piercing the corporate veil.”

      No, I don’t take money out of the rentals. I let an emergency fund build up, and anything beyond that, I use for accelerating the mortgage pay-down.

  10. Great podcast, the second one that I listen to and looking forward to listen to more.
    Paula, I love you positive style, thanks for sharing you knowledge and experience.

    It`s also my first post here.
    I`m writing from Brazil and a total nood in Real Estate, I just realized that keeping a full time Job isn’t going to take me anywhere, so, now it’s a matter to create and execute a plan to get me out of there and have time to family and travel.

    Thank you guys for creating Biggerpockets and giving us noobs the opportunity to learn faster.

  11. OMG! I heard $21K in Atlanta GA and I immediately went on Redfin to check out some houses! There are tons listed for sale under $40K! I will be investing in Atlanta now!!! Any advice on which area to avoid? I’m sure because they’re so cheap….may not be in the greatest neighborhood?

    And oh….your podcast is an inspiration! I love that you’ve traveled to more than 29 countries and you’re not even 30! I’m so jealous! 😉 Any advice on how one can do this with two little kids? 😉

    Can we connect? I’d love to pick your brain….Thanks!!!!

    • @kim — I write a ton about travel on my blog … check it out; I’m big into writing about how people can travel as well as invest in rental properties.

      I’d hesitate to recommend specific areas, since risk tolerance plays such a huge role in determining whether or not you “should” invest somewhere. Visit Atlanta and go to these neighborhoods in person so you know whether or not you’re comfortable there.

  12. Great Podcast Paula! You mentioned that you have your RE License. I’m wondering how to have a RE license for investment options only? In Maine you have to hang your license somewhere and after two years you need to get a Brokers License or let go of your Sales Agent License. I’m just wondering how you keep yours if you only use it for your own investments, MLS access? Again, great podcast, very inspirational.

    • I love, love, love having my RE license. I took an online class, studied about 2 hours / night for a few months, and then went “in person” to take the test. It makes searching for & buying properties infinitely easier, and it was one of the best decisions I made for the sake of my rental-property-owning side hustle. 🙂

      In Georgia you have to hang your license at a brokerage ($98 per year), but there’s no requirement for you to become a broker after 2 years. You have the option to do so, but its not mandatory.

  13. Hi Paula! (I’m back!) 😉 I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, one question I have though is this: As far as your “Pepsi method” goes, I’ve noticed the freelance sites are mostly for writers. Is the freelance arena mostly open to the writing field? Are there other fields that can benefit from freelance work? For instance, your freelance work is very unique, how do you land freelance jobs in your niche on sites specifically for writers?

  14. Loved the podcast!

    Paula, how did you go about getting your real estate licence, and would you recommend it as a strategy for finding deals? I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether it was worth it and if you think it’s payed off. Also, what would be your strategy for finding deals if you did not have your licence?


    P.S. I’m also a former journalist building passive income streams and loving it!

  15. Credit Cards: I completely disagree with this statement, again.
    Home Depot and Lowes, I have paid off my appliances time and time again, with 12-18 month free financing. My current projects have 12-24 month free financing, more than enough for the monthly cash flow to pay for itself. I have to disagree on the entire premise on this one that credit cards are bad for real estate. Credit nor money is inherently evil, its how you handle them.

    • The responsible use of credit (Which most definitely includes Credit Cards) can be a real accelerator for an investing career.
      If you have good credit then it is not that uncommon to have access to large sums with promo balances as low as 0% for over a year.
      Also as you said places like Lowes and Home Depot (I also buy a fair number of appliances at Sears) offer no interest deferred financing. These you do have to make sure you payoff by the time the promo ends or you owe all the back interest but that goes back to the RESPONSIBLE use of credit.

      What good is having good credit if you can’t monetize it?

    • I am SO not rehashing this debate again. Everyone knows how I feel about carrying a credit card balance (strongly against).

      I’m not going to change anyone elses’ mind on this, and no one is going to change my mind on this. Let’s leave it alone.

      • Fair enough.
        Goes to the whole lifestyle idea anyway.
        Some people feel uncomfortable carrying that kind of debt regardless of the terms, and so they should not. Others are comfortable using these lines and can pay them off or shift things around as needed and can keep costs down, so they should keep doing it.

        I will say that if getting high interest credit card advances to fund real estate purchases is the only viable option you have then it is probably a really bad idea to do it.

        • Not wanting to rehash an argument, however, I DO want the opposing viewpoint to be seen, along with the reasons why, so people can make a well rounded and informed decision if deciding they want to use credit cards or such. So, no, I am not trying to change anyone’s mind, so much as share and let everyone know reading this that it is also considered an extremely valid option.

  16. The things people forget about credit cards and credit card payments are the risk they bring

    One credit cards are an unsecured risk, that could reek havoc on your life if you lost your job, or something major happened and you had no income to keep making the payment. SO as quickly as they can help your credit, they can severely hurt it.

    Two, they can raise their interest rates at any time, they also can change their rules at any time and can cause you problems as well.

    Three, if you are making credit card payments, then you are not saving money to buy more assets or saving for retirement.

    I am not a fan of credit cards either….I’m with you Paula!!

    • Again different strokes for different folks.
      I’d never advocate someone to use this strategy if they didn’t feel comfortable with it.

      However I do feel strongly to make the counter points to these statements.

      1) They are unsecured which is the BEST part. You default you don’t lose anything. You can’t pay your mortgage you lose your property.
      2) Yes terms can be changed. However this goes to the RESPONSIBLE use of credit. If you are taking advances without a promo rate (Which they can’t change until it expires) or the store cards with deferred interest that is probably a bad idea. The key is not having out debt when the rates can fluctuate and not when you are paying 10-25% on it.
      3) You can make this argument for any debt payment. Unless you don’t think anyone should ever have a mortgage either then there isn’t really any difference. “Bad” credit card debt at high rates will hamper you but responsible use of cheap unsecured debt can help move things forward.

      If I need to buy $2000 worth of appliances for a place why will my ability to buy more assets be increased by paying for them with cash vs. putting them on my Home Depot card and making like a $20/month payment for 18 months then paying off the balance with no accrued interest? If at any point over the next year a deal comes my way I will have about $2000 more funds to be able to pursue it.

      Again nobody that feels uncomfortable using their credit this way should. However to just demonize them is short sighted to those that have done it successfully.

      • oh wow, after my own heart Shaun! Yes, you default on a credit card (not that i would do that), but they dont get to take your house…thats a BIG deal, as many people found. I would rather take a credit hit, than take a credit hit AND lose a performing property, and switching from one to another does give you that buffer for retaining your possessions. But again, I plan on keeping my credit as good as possible.

  17. That’s fine, and I feel strongly to counter point your points:)

    1.) That’s not true, you do loose. It severely hurts your credit…collectors come after you, you get judgements after you. There is ALL kinds of baggage that comes after if you cannot pay your credit cards. And it’s on your credit for seven years…

    And if you don’t have credit card payments, you can save up an emergency fund up to 6 months to cover your expenses(i.e. mortgage payment)

    Why make the payments when you have the cash?? You say interest free, but again, you are under the assumption that nothing will happen. If something happens and you DON’T pay off those interest free payments, then all of that interest accumulates and now you are paying crazy interest on those things that if you had the cash in the first place you should have used it.

    Again, you want to take away the risk with credit cards or say there isn’t any when you use them RESPONSIBLY and my point is yes there is no matter how you use them.

    It makes no sense to me to make payments on something that is a liability as credit cards or a car or anything that depreciates in value. The cash and sense of freedom you have when you don’t have those payments out weighs me owning one.

    • Again if you don’t feel comfortable with this strategy you should not do it…

      – Everything you say about the ramifications of defaulting on your credit card debt is true. Of course that would also be true if you default on your mortgage.
      Except you also… wait for it… Lose your house!
      Buying the same asset with unsecured debt will always be better than doing it with secured debt.

      – If I go back to my appliance example if I put the $2K on my Home Depot card with deferred interest I have and extra $2K in my reserve for 6, 12, 18 months while if I pay with cash I have nothing. Worst case is something goes really bad and I have that money to help and I can’t recover before the interest will kick in and I lose the deferred benefit and will have payments but more cash than before.

      – All the points you make can be made about any debt payment. Cheap money is cheap money and if use get it from a credit card, a 0% car loan, or a low interest mortgage it doesn’t matter. Use your resources correctly and it is just a bunch of moving parts that have to be coordinated for optimal results.

      It does not make sense to categorize any particular type of debt as bad without any regard to the rates and terms involved. Unless you have the all debt is bad stance (Which is a legitimate philosophy) then it doesn’t make sense to be okay with one type and not another without looking at the specifics.

      Right now the most expensive money I have are mortgages on rehab projects, then mortgages on a couple rentals, then a loan from a private investor for my real estate business, then my mortgage on my house, then another rental mortgage (an ARM that has adjusted down several times), my wife’s student loans, then my student loans, my HELOC and then finally all my “consumer debt” which are spread over multiple accounts where I currently am paying no interest.

      Makes no sense to me to payoff my cheapest debt while I have over a dozen other payments that are far more expensive for me to keep.

      • well said. I was going to mention something, but your second point caught it: I dont buy anything I can’t pay for right now, however, I like the 6mo – 2 yr option so the money comes out of my rental. Then, I have the rents paying for it, and I keep my cash reserves for other unexpected expenses.

        At the end of the day, I am sleeping very well at night. I love it. Dont forget to have autopay for your bill pay options, to make sure you get your monthly payment in on time each month, a few days before its due.

        • Not a bad tip with the autopay.
          I don’t use that option usually though since I would worry that I might slack on checking my statements on what things might be coming due.

          I’d hate to have that one time I missed something on a Lowes card or something and paid a few hundred dollars of interest that I didn’t mean to!
          Obviously there are other measures that I can take by entering things in my calendar or a tickler file or things like that, but at this point I like just going through the statements and figuring out what I should be paying.

  18. Paula, your podcast is one of my favorites! In 2010 I sold everything I owned and moved to Belize with three suitcases, my pillow and a laptop lol! I’ve loved every minute of living in Central America, and the experiences I’ve had will last me a lifetime. Alas, however, it’s time to go back to restart my REI career, as I am not comfortable trying to invest from another country.

    But when I do go back, I will be doing so with the minimalist mindset I have learned to adapt over the last three years. I will rent an apartment, buy a super super cheap car and/or lease, and I refuse to participate in the consumer laden society by loading up on useless goods at Targets, Walmart, etc. Not only will this help me save money to invest with, but it will also make it easier when it’s time to hit the road again on my next journey, wherever that may be.

    Having rentals allows for a lot of flexibility in your life, because if you ever do need to come back to the States, chances are you can move into one of your homes/units temporarily, if you time things right. I’m really not interested in owning strictly a primary residence – too much baggage for me. I really like the multi-unit approach, smart for we nomads 🙂

    I’m a property manager – I wish there was a way to monetize that online somehow, but it’s such a physical presence type of field, that I can’t figure out how to do that. Will keep working on that. Love your website, ideas, spirit, and passion for life! Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Sharon!! Congrats on moving to Belize — that’s awesome! I totally get what you’re saying about wanting to be stateside for RE investments … I started in RE after I returned from my travels.

      But like you, I carry a minimialist mindset, and I’ve now automated by RE business enough that I can take off whenever I feel like it. I find that I oscillate between wanting to be “home” in the US and wanting to be overseas …

  19. Chris Cafferty on

    Such an awesome podcast. At 30 Paula is a wise soul. So many great ideas in this one. I think it’s important to figure out that balance between time and money. I freelance myself and understand how hard it would be to sell all my freedom to a single non-caring entity (and I did for several years). I’ll take $50,000 a year passive income with all the time in the world over $2,000,000 a year and a 100 hour work week. I’ve seen the music stop at a few companies I’ve worked out where executives are left without a chair to sit on. A great salary can instantly turn into nothing fast. The suits can have the titles, I’d rather have the goose laying the golden egg. Thanks Paula! Very Inspiring and look forward to checking out the blog.

  20. Wow the knowledge on here is amazing. Thanks, Just do it. Thank you for a wonderful show. I feel like we are all family. I travel now and would love to do it more and quit this 9-5. I have plan and moving forward and cant wait : )

  21. Polina Goncharova on

    Wow! I am am so inspired by Paula and this reassures that my insane need to travel can be supported by another passion to invest in Real Estate rentals. I am constantly being asked “How can I afford to travel” and my response always being “I make it a priority”. I love that Paula said the same thing, because it’s absolutely the truth! I look forward to learning more from everyone here. This is only my second day on the blog, cannot wait for more inspiring stories and learning opportunities.

    Chicago, IL

  22. Hey Guys…

    I’m really enjoying the podcasts.

    Paula has done what I myself would love to do. I’ve already started laying down the foundation. I’m in the early stages but this podcast really helped validate that what I’m doing has been done successfully many times over.

    Can’t wait to be a success story as well

    Very inspiring!

  23. Wow! Josh and Brandon, Sorry to have the QuickTips pass away….. It was a great run and helped me to get more involved for sure. I will surely miss it. Simply this means that we are poised for bigger and better.

    Thank you! You in my book have been the most lively and down to earth guest on the podcasts so far!

    You actually helped me tremendously by creating or at least editing one of my career goals. I know how much I make per year and now through your words, I know about how much the average American is paid. My goal now is to be at my salary in passive income for retirement from my day to day job. I will work on creating a side stream of income through real estate to match the average American’s income as well.

    Seems that I am right above you in Geography. Would you have a moment to get together. I could drive down to Atlanta and maybe we can talk. I would to see what ideas can come about when two business minded investors come together.

    Would love to help you in any way I possibly can.


  24. I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast with Paula Pant, I am a firm believer in not carrying a credit card balance and living free of finance charges and credit card interest, and however, I do use my credit card for all monthly expenses to receive the cash back rewards from my bank credit card. I also keep a reserve of 2 months liquid cash to pay the bill in full when the statement comes due. There are pros and cons to both sides of this debate, but the $100 a quarter I receive from the bank is worth it, in addition to being able to track our spending more accurately.
    I luv Paula’s views on not working a formal structured job and am doing my best to get out of the rat race and embrace the 4 hour workweek principals. I have started working my plan and am actively seeking a side gig for extra monthly cash flow. My strength is in budgeting and bookkeeping, so if you need some work done reach out let me know. Feel free to pose a question if you want to just chat about budgeting, finance and credit repair.
    Jameen Adams

  25. Paula,
    I just wanted to stop by and let you know how much I loved your podcast. Your bubbly personality and positive outlook on life is really inspiring! Thank you for an informative and very inspirational podcast! I can’t wait to leave my day job and for real estate to allow me to travel freely like you do!

  26. This is exactly the lifestyle I am moving towards! Love to hear somebody actually doing it…I am 25 and in the process of getting my real estate license. 30 countries by 30! I am a little behind…ha. I love hearing peoples stories like this and reading books like the 4 Hour Work Week because it confirms my belief that this is and can be a normal lifestyle. I am from Atlanta also but live in Austin now…housing here is a little pricey. Need to save more for sure!

  27. Wade Mcmahan

    Is it crazy that you are still affecting people’s live this much later after your podcast Paula! I have been listening to all the podcasts and yours hit me at home because I travel every chance I get. Thank you for your insights.

  28. Jonathan Krompegal


    I just finished the podcast #35, and it was awesome. I’ve been a BP member for a little while now, and decided to start listening to the podcasts from show #1 and now I’m on yours. Great info, and I love all the tips you gave. Just signed up for your blog, and I’m really excited to connect with you more and learn more from you.

    Thanks again!

  29. Julie Marquez

    That was probably one of my favorite podcasts! I might not be a traveling nomad, but I want freedom and I want to buy a multifamily property in 2010. I also love your comment about blogging. For me journaling offers so much clarification in what I am doing, and writing down my processes helps give me the confidence to execute them in the future. I also love your blog and how transparent you are, it is very real and helpful. Also, you are great at explaining topics things in writing that might otherwise confuse the masses (first article I ever read of yours was the why it’s better to rent vs. own and it made sense to me).

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here