Is REI realistic for a service member?

20 Replies

Hi all!

I am an active duty Marine who has been in for 7 years so far. Although I am a Marine, I am also an entrepreneur at heart, and I am always brainstorming how to be my own boss. One of my goals is to build up a real estate company by investing in rental properties. The intent is to acquire as many properties as I can before I get out of the Marine Corps, and even then, continue to buy more.

Of course moving around every few years comes with the job. I was wondering if any of you have some insight as to if this is a realistic goal...I bought my first house in Rochester, NY for my family and I with the intent of renting it out when I move in a couple of years. I would like to buy another property to get 2 under my belt while still in NY. 

I would like to purchase a house every time I move duty stations to build my portfolio. Is it realistic to be a serious investor while frequently being "out of pocket" training or deployed or simply just in another state?

Thank you all for your responses.

Very Respectfully,


Hey Alex, have you considered investing in residential multifamily (2-4 units)? At least if you leave an area you have 2-4 units instead of just one. As you begin to scale it may become challenging to manage properties in various areas with different property managers. It may become a lot to keep up with. 

Have you considered focusing in on a few markets for out of state investing? That may be your best best as it allows for you to build a team and some kind of foundation in an area. 

There is no right or wrong answer here, it really drills down to your long term goals.

@Alex Martens it is entirely possible and highly encouraged! I recommend you check out @David Pere and his Military Millionaire podcast, YT channel, IG, FB page, he also has a REI Mastermind group, and he is an active duty Devil Dog himself. There are a ton of resources out there for service members and REI. @Michael Glaspie has a podcast called 'Military Cashflow' There's also the Active Duty Passive Income platform. 

So yes, it is doable. 

The answer is definitely yes. Jeremy posted a couple of great recommendations. One of my business partners started investing when he was active duty and did very, very well. He had a substantial portfolio by the time he was honorably discharged.

There are many options open to you. Syndications, turnkeys, and lending are very common for busy professionals who are not able to actively manage their investment portfolio. Only you know how often you'll be unavailable and for how long.

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Join Active Duty Investor groups. Join online meetups. Meet people who have accomplished exactly what you want to accomplish (they're out there!)

@Alex Martens yessir! Extremely doable. That is how I started and with a great team behind me, strong focus, and clarity, with a little luck, I was able to achieve financial freedom in 3 years before I separated from the military. 

Like @Jeremy Wirths mentioned I have some content on it but be sure to follow @David Pere as well. He is doing some big things in real estate and is still on Active Duty at the moment. 

Thank you all for your input! I am really glad to hear that it is a realistic goal. I know a lot of active duty guys that rent out a house or two, but I want to do much more than a couple houses, so I'm happy to hear from you all. I am actually going to meet with my realtor after I post this, which I feel is super important to simply just get the ball rolling. After all, I can talk about it all I want, but nothing will actually happen until I execute and start education myself as much as possible.

@David Pere I'm really glad @Jeremy Wirths tagged you, as well as @Michael Glaspie . I feel it is so important to get to know people not only like-minded, but also is the same situation I am. I'm currently stationed in Rochester, NY (upstate) because I'm actually in the MECEP program...I know...I'm going to the dark side! But once I graduate from school, I'll of course be on my way...just hopefully smarter! 

But seriously, this is why I want to start now. Because I am in a position where I have a lot more time and freedom than I would back in the fleet. Thanks again for all of the insight. 



Completely doable. I am active duty Army and will close on my third property next month, which is peanuts compared to most, but we all have to start somewhere. My best advice is to not go head first into a deal that you are not completely comfortable with. Make sure the numbers are right and you keep emotions out of it. It took me about 6 months of searching everyday on/off the MLS to find a good deal with working numbers. I also believe we (active duty military) can manage our own properties long distance. There are web-based landlording platforms that make it easy to list, manage, and maintain a property. Having the right handyman, electrician, plumber, and carpenter on speed dial is vital, which can help limit your need to be physically located near the investment property. Also, take advantage of the VA loan on multi-family homes to house-hack; meaning, living in one unit, while renting the others.

Lastly, read as many REI books and listen to all the podcasts as possible!!


Just to pile on the encouragement - I'm currently in Colorado Springs and everyone is military here (I'm the odd one out). Our residential market has been consistently how for some time as well.  I have met quite a few individuals that are active that also have a rental or two.  Also, much good advice above me.  All the best!

@Alex Martens

Great advice above. My suggestion in addition is subscribe to audible and read listen while you run and workout. You want to keep a good balance. Work, family, business. Using that running time is great.

Some book ideas (probably could get more suggestions from folks above too).

Rich Dad, Poor Dad for financial philosophy

Brandon Turner has a number of good reads, I like The Book on Investing in Real Estate with no or low Money Down and The Book on Rental Property Investing

The Perfect Investment

The Millionaire Real Estate Investorbu

More good titles if you like. I listen to the books more than once, buy copies if i need references for business planning. And i have done all while Active. About to retire and make the full transition. Started with my first house hack to leverage BAH at Ft Rucker, AL. Best move I ever made. Good luck. Stay at it.



It is absolutely something you can do. If you want to buy close to your current duty station, you can research the areas around base, find out who is your target renter and key in on those numbers and that demographic. You know that the rental demand is always there in military towns, and you also know that generally speaking, someone who is now an E-6 to E-9 or O3 to O5 has the responsibility and take home pay to be good renters. As always, run the numbers and if it makes sense, you will be ok. 

There are all kinds of apps and programs you can use to self manage. If you buy close to your current station, you can build the team that will allow you to self manage and still be across the country or around the world. If you choose to use property management, you can research and interview in order to build that relationship before you PCS to another duty station. 

Just like all of the other investors with W2 jobs that are investing out of state, you can do this. By this point in career, you have FITREPs that detail your ability to manage men, weapons, eqpt, etc. You understand the backwards planning process and you have decided that you do want to make your money work for you. Just exchange a piece of real estate for what you already do at work. Set up systems (SOPs) and get your platoon (contractors/ handy man, realtor, banker, property management) and give them the mission. Then you lead the patrol, making course corrections as you go, conducting an azimuth check on occasion and if need be, issue a FRAGO to the order due to a change in the market or your economic situation.

You got this. Educate yourself and execute. Best of luck, j

@Alex Martens

Absolutely. Like @Thomas Greer , we're in Colorado Springs with a large military population. We've seen a lot of our clients PCSing in who like to buy a property in every city they're stationed. Within each property, you could house hack while you live there to increase your revenues, but you don't have to. While it's not ideal to be a landlord who travels a lot, it's nothing good systems can't manage. You can just pay a property manager 8-10% and have a totally hands-off rental. But it's not too hard to manage from afar either. Develop a relationship with a handyman, plumber, electrician, etc. who can handle small repairs.

It can seem daunting, but I'd suggest just jumping in. You'll never have all the information to feel totally comfortable, and everyone learns the most from actually doing it, Good luck!

@Alex Martens - Semper Fi! I served right after 9/11.. stationed in Oki.. Been investing the past 5 years and don’t self manage any of my properties due to my business schedule and travel. It’s totally doable, as others have said.

If you ever want to chat, let me know.