Exit Strategy/What's your "number"?

108 Replies

I spend a bit of time reading and contributing to different forums...  
Real Estate, FIRE/Early Retirement, Sailing, Overlanding - and every time I come here to BP I'm left wondering why the discussions/goals I see on all those other forums don't seem to show up here.

In most cases on other forums people are 100% focused on buying their freedom and how quickly they can get there.  
For some people it's RE, for some it's the market, for some its various side hustles (for most, it's a combination of all of the above), but in almost all cases the early questions and focus is always on the end goal - FREEDOM, and how soon they can reach it.

When the method is focused on the market, those investors can almost always tell you "the number" that is their goal or end point.  That number where the math works out and they feel comfortable that they can live off their nest egg or dividends for the remainder of their days without working again. 

But here I feel like the conversations all seem to center around growth and striving for massive portfolios and making millions... so I'm just curious what everyone's end goal is in this "game" - and IF you already have a portfolio that covers your living expenses and would allow you to live a good lifestyle without ever buying another property... what is driving you to keep expanding the portfolio and working what is now another "job"??

I'll kick things off - 
For us, we initially got involved in RE investing because we were fully in love with the idea of passive income and a monthly check rather than having to wait/work jobs we hated until some unknown date far into the future.

Fast forward a couple of years and we realized that lifestyle changes and downsizing/living more simply meant that even our small/modest portfolio could already cover our living expenses and allow us to live without jobs (if we played our cards correctly).  
I'm certain we could have stuck around, kept our incomes/paychecks (to be more easily financeable) and continue growing the portfolio to a more impressive stature; but the goal was always freedom, and we quit our jobs and walked aware as soon as we thought we could survive on the passive income.

Now almost 10years later, our properties have continued gaining in value while our tenants continue paying off our loans for us and we continue traveling and living abroad full-time living our best lives (quite literally) and if I look back, honestly... I only wonder why we didn't trust the process and leave even sooner.  

Whats your number/end goal???

I am a Portland small investor too @Bryan Danger and have never wanted to be large. I am moving from self managed and old Portland to retiring from management at least for stuff that becomes vacant. My end goal is to be old and have income that is managed and can be passed on without my involvement. I worked until age 58 and probably should have left sooner too. Retiring from rehabs too. Have 2 higher end rentals and 2 lower end rentals. 

Jeff, I hear you... and feel like we all probably wish we had gone sooner (even though we quit our jobs before my 35th bday)!  
To me that's the real value of investing in RE... that it can continue growing without us being present, or in our case even being in the country. 

Congrats on your plan working and on setting yourself up for whatever you want to do next!! 

Wow... does the lack of responses here literally translate into the fact that most people go into the real estate game with no exit strategy??  Or this simply a taboo topic because we're all supposed to be talking about growing/bigger/faster?


New to this forum.  Other than owning my own home, and owning a beach home at one time, I’ve never invested in real estate.  I’ve stumbled on this forum to educate myself on all thing real estate.

  I’m one of those guys who was fortunate to make it.  I did it entirely through investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.  I set a goal early in my life and worked patiently and diligently to make my goal. Once I hit my goal, I took a look at my life and how retirement would fit into the life I had at that time.  I decided to continue working and re evaluate once I became an empty nester.  At that point I decided to try different some different work options before ultimately selling and “retiring”.  It has now been  over 3 years.

I am seeing that there are many early retirees who succeeded in building a portfolio of real estate generating a nice monthly income that required less capital to achieve so I want to start learning about it.



@Bryan Danger

I plan on trying to grow my portfolio until I don't feel like trying to grow my portfolio anymore.  I guess it's always about money, but having said that, it really quit being about money a long time ago.  Now, it's just curiosity to see how much I can grow it, how many people I can start along the path with me, and especially how much I can get my kids interested in living a life of freedom where they're not beholden to "the man" (including me acting as "the man" - basically, I want them self-sufficient with their own portfolios and inheriting mine to be gravy and not a goal in itself).  Not sure if that answers it.

Anyway, congrats on your success and enjoy!

@Bryan Danger - I think some posts just get drowned out by chance, does not mean its not a good topic.

Personally I am afraid chasing a moving goal, we have surpassed the first one years ago, it keeps getting bigger, after we hit 6 figures in passive income we decided to double that and so forth. And I found that my new career as an agent and team owner is a passion project as well, so also that keeps on growing. It may be necessary to support my parents financially and we want to be able to do that without having to sacrifice our own financials. Another reason is that we are building up equity and reserves which increases our financial resilience. I have the big 50 birthday showing up on the horizon and we play ot conservative, we will not expand into large MF, we have a very succesful model built around SF and so we stick to that. There is a sense of "now is the time", we are not in our 30s anymore.

In a way I have to admit that I don't have a good answer to when is it enough? Something I have to think about.

Originally posted by @Marcus Auerbach :

@Bryan Danger - I think some posts just get drowned out by chance, does not mean its not a good topic.

Personally I am afraid chasing a moving goal, we have surpassed the first one years ago, it keeps getting bigger, after we hit 6 figures in passive income we decided to double that and so forth. And I found that my new career as an agent and team owner is a passion project as well, so also that keeps on growing. It may be necessary to support my parents financially and we want to be able to do that without having to sacrifice our own financials. Another reason is that we are building up equity and reserves which increases our financial resilience. I have the big 50 birthday showing up on the horizon and we play ot conservative, we will not expand into large MF, we have a very succesful model built around SF and so we stick to that. There is a sense of "now is the time", we are not in our 30s anymore.

In a way I have to admit that I don't have a good answer to when is it enough? Something I have to think about.

Thanks for writing!
We didn't either when we started, which I guess is why I ask and why I find the mentality very different than the mentality of most "retirement-minded" groups or forums. 

We started very simply and small - just an attempt to make up for the fact that we always failed at saving money through any other route... but at some point the goal became very clear - to be able to walk away and chase our dreams of happiness and let the portfolio and team run itself while were gone. 

For us, we quit the jobs and "ran away" in our mid-30s.  Too early in some respects and too late in others, but the learning along the way has continually been that RE allows more flexibility than most investment models to "figure it out" or adjust as you go.

I often feel like the mentality here is to push for bigger, better...millions, when the reality is that you can live a dream lifestyle off far far less.  It also seems odd to me that we all tout the value of RE growing over time (and being paid off by our tenants), most of us also feel like we need to keep working and growing the portfolio until its huge now - which now seems counter to the very premise of it being PASSIVE.

@Charlton Ho

Sounds like you're definitely from the "had a number, hit the number, walked away" mentality i mentioned.
But it also sounds like you're the perfect reminder that we still get to make choices and investments after were gone!  
Congrats on the success!
Originally posted by @Bryan Danger :
@Charlton Ho

Sounds like you're definitely from the "had a number, hit the number, walked away" mentality i mentioned.
But it also sounds like you're the perfect reminder that we still get to make choices and investments after were gone!  
Congrats on the success!

Yes.  Once you hit that number, you really need to take a hard look at everything-  your life, your family, your health, your time, etc.  and weigh it all in the balance.  Too many people fail to do that and look only at the financial bottom line without taking into account the cost.

Remember, in the accumulation phase, you are trading time for money.  Once you hit your number, you have to re evaluate your situation, because at that point, if you no longer need more money, then you are sacrificing that finite amount of time you have left to accumulate more money that you don't need.

While I don't agree with everything in the book "Die With Zero", the author Bill Perkins does do a good job of discussing the interplay  of time, health, and money. 


@Charlton Ho

Sounds like you're definitely from the "had a number, hit the number, walked away" mentality i mentioned.
But it also sounds like you're the perfect reminder that we still get to make choices and investments after were gone!  
Congrats on the success!

Yes.  Once you hit that number, you really need to take a hard look at everything-  your life, your family, your health, your time, etc.  and weigh it all in the balance.  Too many people fail to do that and look only at the financial bottom line without taking into account the cost.

Remember, in the accumulation phase, you are trading time for money.  Once you hit your number, you have to re evaluate your situation, because at that point, if you no longer need more money, then you are sacrificing that finite amount of time you have left to accumulate more money that you don't need.

While I don't agree with everything in the book "Die With Zero", the author Bill Perkins does do a good job of discussing the interplay  of time, health, and money.  

Couldn't agree with you more... except I typically take issue with the "black and white" nature of the line between those phases. 

I prefer to believe that most of us could leave far earlier than we think (meaning we are wasting precious time), allow the money/portfolio to continue growing (without us spending time on it) while we're focused on time and health and still not having to worry about money. 

Real estate in my opinion/experience is the perfect vehicle for that mentality, yet most still find themselves "trapped" in the bigger/more/millions mindset, meaning wasting more precious time.

@Bryan Danger I have seen many discussion threads here on the BP forums that talk about freedom number and goals. It could be that one was not trending when you have been checking in here. I also find some accomplished real estate investors are driven by more than freedom. People who get into business and real estate investing have a drive to accomplish goals and succeed. For many people it is the journey and sense of accomplishment that drives them. People who are passionate about real estate don't consider it a job. In fact when you scale it becomes even easier to outsource the parts of the business you don't like. Some of these people keep building the business, even though they don't "need" the extra income. 

Your question is assuming everyone wants to exit the business. You are assuming your idea of freedom or the "good life" is the same as everyone else. Not everyone wants to travel the world. Some people want time with their family or raising children. Some have a passion for animals and would rather run a rescue mission. Some people love their work and would rather spend 60 hours a week in the office, achieving high levels of success in their profession. Some would rather go surfing every day. Some are trying to build generational wealth. At 87 years old Warren Buffet still works 8 hours a day. He has a passion for his business. He leads a frugal life style and could probably live on less money than you or I. He is a philanthropist that has pledged to give away all his wealth to help those less fortunate. You may be traveling the world, but he is changing the world. Everyone has their own passion and finds meaning in different places. 

I have said before that financial freedom is simply the intersection of income and life style. A homeless man sleeping on a park bench is financially free. Freedom doesn't require retirement or frugality. These are two misconceptions I find in the FIRE community.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

@Bryan Danger I have seen many discussion threads here on the BP forums that talk about freedom number and goals. It could be that one was not trending when you have been checking in here. I also find some accomplished real estate investors are driven by more than freedom. People who get into business and real estate investing have a drive to accomplish goals and succeed. For many people it is the journey and sense of accomplishment that drives them. People who are passionate about real estate don't consider it a job. In fact when you scale it becomes even easier to outsource the parts of the business you don't like. Some of these people keep building the business, even though they don't "need" the extra income. 

Your question is assuming everyone wants to exit the business. You are assuming your idea of freedom or the "good life" is the same as everyone else. Not everyone wants to travel the world. Some people want time with their family or raising children. Some have a passion for animals and would rather run a rescue mission. Some people love their work and would rather spend 60 hours a week in the office, achieving high levels of success in their profession. Some would rather go surfing every day. Some are trying to build generational wealth. At 87 years old Warren Buffet still works 8 hours a day. He has a passion for his business. He leads a frugal life style and could probably live on less money than you or I. He is a philanthropist that has pledged to give away all his wealth to help those less fortunate. You may be traveling the world, but he is changing the world. Everyone has their own passion and finds meaning in different places. 

I have said before that financial freedom is simply the intersection of income and life style. A homeless man sleeping on a park bench is financially free. Freedom doesn't require retirement or frugality. These are two misconceptions I find in the FIRE community.

 As usual, Joe's generally got the best answer out there :)

I started in this whole thing by accident (listen to my podcast episode, in my signature). I was just trying to find somewhere to put some spare cash. After a while I realized in short order my RE could surpass my W2 income. Eventually it did. But I liked my W2 and I have a plan for that too, which involves my pension and taking care of my organization at the same time. So I just kept growing because I had no other real need for the money and had the opportunity to keep going. At this point, if I had a number, I've long surpassed it and with the market so high don't really look too hard at things these days (though I have an offer out today, by coincidence).

I also have some other concerns - making sure people I care about have health insurance; having something to leave behind for causes that are important to me when I step off the planet; being able to help people now financially that otherwise would have nowhere else to turn. Life for me isn't really all about what I see as the self-indulgent hedonistic goal of non-stop travel and sipping Appletinis on the beach. I'm reasonably healthy, smart when it comes to finances, and have the ability to help others with my skills and to me that would be a hell of a thing to waste. 

I did not see this post the first time it was posted.  I look on here when I have extra time, so miss most posts.

I don't have an end game number because my journey to real estate is different than that.  

I had a career that I liked, well most days!  But even on the not so great days, I was glad I was working and could contribute and maybe learn from the day and make it better in the future for others. So I was not looking for an escape from a life I did not like.  I liked my life as an employee.  I did retire after 30 years.

And after I retired I wanted to move from rural CA, near a lake to live on a lake in TN. I also decided to use some of my money in real estate as a diversification from stocks/EFT/etc. My parents had rentals which I helped them with a lot and personally I generally bought trashed houses and fixed them as I lived in them. My very first house was a foreclosed row home from HUD. I enjoyed the experiences of fixing houses and making them useful again. So that is what I focused on when I invested in real estate

Since I started my stocks, etc. are higher than before I took anything out, and my rental/housing activity is doing quite well also.  I could afford whatever I wanted when I retired, and still can. 

I am grateful that I do not have financial worries and even more so since I recently adopted a relative's baby that experienced birth trauma.  I have been able to get him the medical treatment and therapies he needs without worrying about the cost.  My two teens are in college now.  Their expenses are covered.  My 38 year old adopted daughter recently got her house redone with new flooring, fence, washer, dryer. and refrigerator. I use the assets I have been able to earn to improve the lives of my family.  (I have 5 adopted kids, most special needs.)

At this point in time, even if I would sell all my properties and put that money back in stocks/etc. I would be fine with enough assets invested safely with a market crash or two to last my lifetime and enough of my kid's lives they would be able to get to the point to care for themselves..  I would not want to put everything into real estate, that is more work that I want.  And I do not want to hire a property manager to get more properties as that takes my fun away and leaves me managing the property manager which is not as much fun.

So what is my number?  I am happy now should it be what I have?  But I may still buy something else if I want and I am selling one house now.  And I just bought one last month that my son wanted me to buy so he could move in to live in with roommates while in college.  (He even told me he would pay rent!!!  But I still pay for his food and college expenses, and gas and phone...  He pays for his car himself.)  So property is fluid.

I have no number...I have no exit plan...I am living my life!

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

@Bryan Danger I have seen many discussion threads here on the BP forums that talk about freedom number and goals. It could be that one was not trending when you have been checking in here. I also find some accomplished real estate investors are driven by more than freedom. People who get into business and real estate investing have a drive to accomplish goals and succeed. For many people it is the journey and sense of accomplishment that drives them. People who are passionate about real estate don't consider it a job. In fact when you scale it becomes even easier to outsource the parts of the business you don't like. Some of these people keep building the business, even though they don't "need" the extra income. 

Your question is assuming everyone wants to exit the business. You are assuming your idea of freedom or the "good life" is the same as everyone else. Not everyone wants to travel the world. Some people want time with their family or raising children. Some have a passion for animals and would rather run a rescue mission. Some people love their work and would rather spend 60 hours a week in the office, achieving high levels of success in their profession. Some would rather go surfing every day. Some are trying to build generational wealth. At 87 years old Warren Buffet still works 8 hours a day. He has a passion for his business. He leads a frugal life style and could probably live on less money than you or I. He is a philanthropist that has pledged to give away all his wealth to help those less fortunate. You may be traveling the world, but he is changing the world. Everyone has their own passion and finds meaning in different places. 

I have said before that financial freedom is simply the intersection of income and life style. A homeless man sleeping on a park bench is financially free. Freedom doesn't require retirement or frugality. These are two misconceptions I find in the FIRE community.

Thanks for writing Joe!
You're probably right... it may have been discussed before just not threads I've stumbled upon and I'm always curious about the topic (and remain so). I don't think we're so different you and I, but we may be using different terminology or have slightly different goals (certainly no problem with that!).

I am also passionate about real estate (both investing and designing/renovating), I also am driven to accomplish goals and to succeed, I also have continued investing somewhat even though we don't really need the money anymore - in fact we just finished our biggest deal to date by far and from afar (thank goodness the one benefit covid provided - the wide acceptance of the digital notary).

To be clear - my assumption isn't actually that everyone hates doing this, or even that everyone wants to exit their business (and I'm certainly not assuming that everyone would choose to live our same lifestyle given the opportunity)...

I'm merely working from the word "freedom", and the assumption that everyone is at least in part involved in REI to get to a point where they have freedom.
I love your definition here, but would personally argue that true Freedom is simply the intersection of PASSIVE income and lifestyle. 
If income isn't passive still requires a person's actions on a daily basis to make it - then that person isn't actually free to choose unencumbered how to spend their time.  To me this is the true beauty of REI over other type of investments, because that income can easily be passive and that freedom can easily be gained early in life while one is still young enough to enjoy it, to try new things and learn for certain what it is that they actually love doing and are driven by.

I guess my assumption (right or wrong) is that people at some stage would probably like to have more time and freedom to do the things they love (whether that be surf, travel the world, spend time with their spouse and kids, animals, running a rescue mission, philanthropy, etc) and if they are still working on the business full time than that is simply also time they are not spending focused on those things that they most love (unless they in fact love the business more than those things).

Much like you, I also still choose to spend time on those things I love. Since "ER" at 35 I've now started two companies based on our lifestyle and doing what I love and in both cases not for money (I also offered to literally give both away after they were successful to friends who wanted to leave their job because they actually hated their work - maybe more common than you think).  I also still choose to make the world a better place and spend much of my time coaching/advising others for free.  I also have chosen to live at both end of the spectrum from complete frugality living in a van and "showering" in the park sink alongside my financially free homeless neighbors to living on a yacht with million dollar views.  I also have chosen to give away every penny at the end of the day to make everyone else's lives better...

But - I also still remain bewildered by the apparent lack of exit strategies and goal-setting here.  
For most driven, successful people, goal-setting would be a standard practice for outlining and achieving those goals or defining success along the way. I'm always amazed that in the REI or BP world goals seem to be a very difficult topic for most, unlike FIRE or any other communities focused on ER.  I also don't agree with many things in the FIRE forums - but would again argue that for most of us (REI, Buffet style investors, FIRE, whatever the method)... FREEDOM is typically the goal - but here it seems many can't speak to or haven't outlined yet what exactly that means to them, or they have simply gotten stuck in the cycle and the only goal has in fact become "More".  Or, maybe as you say - Im just not looking n the right places ;)

Originally posted by @JD Martin :

 As usual, Joe's generally got the best answer out there :)

I started in this whole thing by accident (listen to my podcast episode, in my signature). I was just trying to find somewhere to put some spare cash. After a while I realized in short order my RE could surpass my W2 income. Eventually it did. But I liked my W2 and I have a plan for that too, which involves my pension and taking care of my organization at the same time. So I just kept growing because I had no other real need for the money and had the opportunity to keep going. At this point, if I had a number, I've long surpassed it and with the market so high don't really look too hard at things these days (though I have an offer out today, by coincidence).

I also have some other concerns - making sure people I care about have health insurance; having something to leave behind for causes that are important to me when I step off the planet; being able to help people now financially that otherwise would have nowhere else to turn. Life for me isn't really all about what I see as the self-indulgent hedonistic goal of non-stop travel and sipping Appletinis on the beach. I'm reasonably healthy, smart when it comes to finances, and have the ability to help others with my skills and to me that would be a hell of a thing to waste. 

I must have been unclear about our lifestyle/travel... we've yet to reach (or even strive for) anything that looks remotely like hedonism or sipping appletinis, and I find that one of the largest values in all the newfound free time is all the time/ability I have to help/couch/counsel others!  

But I do agree with you, time is a hell of a thing to waste!!

Originally posted by @Bryan Danger :

I guess my assumption (right or wrong) is that people at some stage would probably like to have more time and freedom to do the things they love 

But - I also still remain bewildered by the apparent lack of exit strategies and goal-setting here.  

FREEDOM is typically the goal - but here it seems many can't speak to or haven't outlined yet what exactly that means to them, or they have simply gotten stuck in the cycle and the only goal has in fact become "More".  Or, maybe as you say - Im just not looking n the right places ;)

 The idea of exit strategy does intrigue me and I'm glad you brought it up.  I've stepped into it a bit with a PM for half of my portfolio (they were there and doing a decent enough job when I acquired a community) and like it for the most part.   More time freedom is kind of weird to adjust to. 

In the beginning I purchased RE for freedom from.  Mostly freedom from the grind, freedom from commuting and having to ask for time off. 

I hit skinny FI long ago, but then came freedom to.  Freedom to give and live and not have to sit in the nosebleed seats or read a menu right to left.  Freedom to golf or fish or go to a game my kid is in or run an errand in the middle of any day. Good enough for me. 

I guess the what's your 'number' comes down to contentment.   Some never will be.  "I originally wanted $100k/yr in cf, but then I decided to double it."   That must be horrible, really.  Never ends.  The number discussions bore me.

What are people doing to actually exit RE? (For those that want to).  I'll always love it on some level but one can't truly retire or relocate freely with RE yet selling it comes with a massive tax hit.  Would love to here actual exit strategies and what some have done. 

@Bryan Danger it is nice you are responding to each response. I used to read those F.I.R.E. people. Mr Mustache and then there was the couple that collected social security and lived in their van traveling where the good weather took them. But the one thing I will never forget is the guy that had a couple million and quit a super high paying job to retire around 35 or so. Covid hit and he lost a huge amount in the market and freaked. The only thing that kept him afloat were his San Francisco rentals. He was a stock guy that worked in the financial industry and deeply regretted quitting his lucrative job.

Some people think when you retire you sell your RE and some people have that plan. My question is where do you put your money. You pay capital gains and lose the income from that money that the IR allowed you to use to earn income.

When I was 38 the only thing I had to my name was an IRS tax lien. We lost everything. When I was 45 I could have sold out and retired and traveled the world for maybe 10 years or so until inflation caught up with me. Then I would have been in a bad way. Having been broke I was not interested in not being very financially solid. 

There are no guarantees. Our leaders are like weak dads who keep pulling out the plastic to make everyone happy while destroying the families' futures. The more you give for free the more likely you will be voted in. 

Real estate is our sandbox. Some like to think it is a smooth ride forever just like young stock people believe you will always get 7%. The people I learned from did deals until they died in their 80's. They had incredible wealth and the ability to do what they wanted. Real estate gets in your blood. It is an addiction. It is a lifestyle. It is also very hard work and not for the weak minded. 

What is your definition of exit? When you die? When you sell and go to cash? Buy bonds? What does it mean?

Originally posted by @Bryan Danger :
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

@Bryan Danger I have seen many discussion threads here on the BP forums that talk about freedom number and goals. It could be that one was not trending when you have been checking in here. I also find some accomplished real estate investors are driven by more than freedom. People who get into business and real estate investing have a drive to accomplish goals and succeed. For many people it is the journey and sense of accomplishment that drives them. People who are passionate about real estate don't consider it a job. In fact when you scale it becomes even easier to outsource the parts of the business you don't like. Some of these people keep building the business, even though they don't "need" the extra income. 

Your question is assuming everyone wants to exit the business. You are assuming your idea of freedom or the "good life" is the same as everyone else. Not everyone wants to travel the world. Some people want time with their family or raising children. Some have a passion for animals and would rather run a rescue mission. Some people love their work and would rather spend 60 hours a week in the office, achieving high levels of success in their profession. Some would rather go surfing every day. Some are trying to build generational wealth. At 87 years old Warren Buffet still works 8 hours a day. He has a passion for his business. He leads a frugal life style and could probably live on less money than you or I. He is a philanthropist that has pledged to give away all his wealth to help those less fortunate. You may be traveling the world, but he is changing the world. Everyone has their own passion and finds meaning in different places. 

I have said before that financial freedom is simply the intersection of income and life style. A homeless man sleeping on a park bench is financially free. Freedom doesn't require retirement or frugality. These are two misconceptions I find in the FIRE community.

Thanks for writing Joe!
You're probably right... it may have been discussed before just not threads I've stumbled upon and I'm always curious about the topic (and remain so). I don't think we're so different you and I, but we may be using different terminology or have slightly different goals (certainly no problem with that!).

I am also passionate about real estate (both investing and designing/renovating), I also am driven to accomplish goals and to succeed, I also have continued investing somewhat even though we don't really need the money anymore - in fact we just finished our biggest deal to date by far and from afar (thank goodness the one benefit covid provided - the wide acceptance of the digital notary).

To be clear - my assumption isn't actually that everyone hates doing this, or even that everyone wants to exit their business (and I'm certainly not assuming that everyone would choose to live our same lifestyle given the opportunity)...

I'm merely working from the word "freedom", and the assumption that everyone is at least in part involved in REI to get to a point where they have freedom.
I love your definition here, but would personally argue that true Freedom is simply the intersection of PASSIVE income and lifestyle. 
If income isn't passive still requires a person's actions on a daily basis to make it - then that person isn't actually free to choose unencumbered how to spend their time.  To me this is the true beauty of REI over other type of investments, because that income can easily be passive and that freedom can easily be gained early in life while one is still young enough to enjoy it, to try new things and learn for certain what it is that they actually love doing and are driven by.

I guess my assumption (right or wrong) is that people at some stage would probably like to have more time and freedom to do the things they love (whether that be surf, travel the world, spend time with their spouse and kids, animals, running a rescue mission, philanthropy, etc) and if they are still working on the business full time than that is simply also time they are not spending focused on those things that they most love (unless they in fact love the business more than those things).

Much like you, I also still choose to spend time on those things I love. Since "ER" at 35 I've now started two companies based on our lifestyle and doing what I love and in both cases not for money (I also offered to literally give both away after they were successful to friends who wanted to leave their job because they actually hated their work - maybe more common than you think).  I also still choose to make the world a better place and spend much of my time coaching/advising others for free.  I also have chosen to live at both end of the spectrum from complete frugality living in a van and "showering" in the park sink alongside my financially free homeless neighbors to living on a yacht with million dollar views.  I also have chosen to give away every penny at the end of the day to make everyone else's lives better...

But - I also still remain bewildered by the apparent lack of exit strategies and goal-setting here.  
For most driven, successful people, goal-setting would be a standard practice for outlining and achieving those goals or defining success along the way. I'm always amazed that in the REI or BP world goals seem to be a very difficult topic for most, unlike FIRE or any other communities focused on ER.  I also don't agree with many things in the FIRE forums - but would again argue that for most of us (REI, Buffet style investors, FIRE, whatever the method)... FREEDOM is typically the goal - but here it seems many can't speak to or haven't outlined yet what exactly that means to them, or they have simply gotten stuck in the cycle and the only goal has in fact become "More".  Or, maybe as you say - Im just not looking n the right places ;)

 Fair point on the adding the word passive into the intersection statement. I guess I took the liberty of assuming that was a given when talking freedom. 

Keep in mind when comparing a FIRE forum to the BP forms that the ENTIRE and only purpose of FIRE is financial independence and retiring early. Everyone there is investing and saving to quit their jobs. For that reason, you would expect that to a be a common topic. BiggerPockets has a wider range of users that are here for many different things. Many of the regular posters here have already quit their day job. Some are realtors or syndicators looking to build their business. Others are lenders, insurance agents, etc. Yes, there is also a group of investors who are building a real estate side business with plans to quit their W2. I think that is the group you are talking about. There have been some large discussion threads on here where people discuss their goals. It is usually a "freedom number" for passive income that allows them to step out of their full time job. Some have a specific age or number of years. Don't take the lack of response to your post as indication that people don't care. Some questions just never trend, so they don't catch peoples attention.

In my case, I hit my freedom number several years ago. I am "free" but chose to hold on to my W2. I enjoy my job, have flexibility, good vacation, good benefits, travel the country and work from home. Stability and health insurance are important to me at this stage with a child in school. Once my daughter is out of school, my wife and I will travel much more. I don't expect to keep my W2 past the age of 50 and I may even quit sooner. In my experience once you reach financial freedom, your job becomes more enjoyable because your attitude changes. I say and do what I believe, having no fear of "sucking it up and dealing with it". I found since adopting that attitude, I have done even better in my career with less time demand. The other thing to keep in mind is many people chose careers that they didn't like, have demanding bosses or work physical / service jobs. That is why they want to quit. Those of us who have careers we enjoy, don't feel that same urgency.  

The point is FREEDOM comes in many forms, as does happiness, goals and contentment. Some people grow a business for the sake of accomplishment. Look at most every giant company in the world and you see that the founder stayed on as CEO well past the point of "having enough to live on". Most of them could have sold out for millions in their 20's. The fact that they don't has nothing to do with greed or lack of goals. They are motivated by the thrill of business, like you get excited by sailing or your other passions. 

It is hard to generalize BiggerPockets or really any group of people. You will find a total mixed bag here. I am sure some are stuck or have no idea what their goal is. If you listen to the BP podcast, you will notice considerable time is spent on talking about goal setting and having a why. This is an important topic to people and I think anyone accomplished has thoroughly considered these things. 

On the flip side, I have always wondered why the FIRE crowd ended up in a job they hate so much and why they want so bad to retire. I have always thought, why not just get a job you love? I think sometimes people get so caught up on early retirement that they don't even know why they are retiring. Maybe that is the opposite problem of not having an exit strategy. Having an exit strategy, but not a life focus. We all need purpose, challenges and a sense of contribution. 

I appreciate the interesting discussion. I think your story is really cool and I congratulate you on following your passion. 

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :
Originally posted by @Bryan Danger:

I guess my assumption (right or wrong) is that people at some stage would probably like to have more time and freedom to do the things they love 

But - I also still remain bewildered by the apparent lack of exit strategies and goal-setting here.  

FREEDOM is typically the goal - but here it seems many can't speak to or haven't outlined yet what exactly that means to them, or they have simply gotten stuck in the cycle and the only goal has in fact become "More".  Or, maybe as you say - Im just not looking n the right places ;)

 The idea of exit strategy does intrigue me and I'm glad you brought it up.  I've stepped into it a bit with a PM for half of my portfolio (they were there and doing a decent enough job when I acquired a community) and like it for the most part.   More time freedom is kind of weird to adjust to. 

In the beginning I purchased RE for freedom from.  Mostly freedom from the grind, freedom from commuting and having to ask for time off. 

I hit skinny FI long ago, but then came freedom to.  Freedom to give and live and not have to sit in the nosebleed seats or read a menu right to left.  Freedom to golf or fish or go to a game my kid is in or run an errand in the middle of any day. Good enough for me. 

I guess the what's your 'number' comes down to contentment.   Some never will be.  "I originally wanted $100k/yr in cf, but then I decided to double it."   That must be horrible, really.  Never ends.  The number discussions bore me.

What are people doing to actually exit RE? (For those that want to).  I'll always love it on some level but one can't truly retire or relocate freely with RE yet selling it comes with a massive tax hit.  Would love to here actual exit strategies and what some have done. 

 Thanks!  I really like the distinction between "freedom from" and "freedom to"!  Resonates with me deeply because i was certainly one of those people (before our first investment) who not only had a job I hated but also was deep in debt and couldn't seem to work my way out of it.  In the beginning it was simply a way to stop wasting money, then an escape plan from a job that i now have no doubt would have killed me... now on the other side, for sure the focus is on Freedom To.

Originally posted by @Bryan Danger :

I spend a bit of time reading and contributing to different forums...  
Real Estate, FIRE/Early Retirement, Sailing, Overlanding - and every time I come here to BP I'm left wondering why the discussions/goals I see on all those other forums don't seem to show up here.

In most cases on other forums people are 100% focused on buying their freedom and how quickly they can get there.  
For some people it's RE, for some it's the market, for some its various side hustles (for most, it's a combination of all of the above), but in almost all cases the early questions and focus is always on the end goal - FREEDOM, and how soon they can reach it.

When the method is focused on the market, those investors can almost always tell you "the number" that is their goal or end point.  That number where the math works out and they feel comfortable that they can live off their nest egg or dividends for the remainder of their days without working again. 

But here I feel like the conversations all seem to center around growth and striving for massive portfolios and making millions... so I'm just curious what everyone's end goal is in this "game" - and IF you already have a portfolio that covers your living expenses and would allow you to live a good lifestyle without ever buying another property... what is driving you to keep expanding the portfolio and working what is now another "job"??

I'll kick things off - 
For us, we initially got involved in RE investing because we were fully in love with the idea of passive income and a monthly check rather than having to wait/work jobs we hated until some unknown date far into the future.

Fast forward a couple of years and we realized that lifestyle changes and downsizing/living more simply meant that even our small/modest portfolio could already cover our living expenses and allow us to live without jobs (if we played our cards correctly).  
I'm certain we could have stuck around, kept our incomes/paychecks (to be more easily financeable) and continue growing the portfolio to a more impressive stature; but the goal was always freedom, and we quit our jobs and walked aware as soon as we thought we could survive on the passive income.

Now almost 10years later, our properties have continued gaining in value while our tenants continue paying off our loans for us and we continue traveling and living abroad full-time living our best lives (quite literally) and if I look back, honestly... I only wonder why we didn't trust the process and leave even sooner.  

Whats your number/end goal???

 For me, RE has always been a passion as well as way to make money. There is no number or end goal. Currently it is a way to make $$ - mostly passively - and have some great assets to leave to our kids....

Originally posted by @Jeff S. :

@Bryan Danger it is nice you are responding to each response. I used to read those F.I.R.E. people. Mr Mustache and then there was the couple that collected social security and lived in their van traveling where the good weather took them. But the one thing I will never forget is the guy that had a couple million and quit a super high paying job to retire around 35 or so. Covid hit and he lost a huge amount in the market and freaked. The only thing that kept him afloat were his San Francisco rentals. He was a stock guy that worked in the financial industry and deeply regretted quitting his lucrative job.

Some people think when you retire you sell your RE and some people have that plan. My question is where do you put your money. You pay capital gains and lose the income from that money that the IR allowed you to use to earn income.

When I was 38 the only thing I had to my name was an IRS tax lien. We lost everything. When I was 45 I could have sold out and retired and traveled the world for maybe 10 years or so until inflation caught up with me. Then I would have been in a bad way. Having been broke I was not interested in not being very financially solid. 

There are no guarantees. Our leaders are like weak dads who keep pulling out the plastic to make everyone happy while destroying the families' futures. The more you give for free the more likely you will be voted in. 

Real estate is our sandbox. Some like to think it is a smooth ride forever just like young stock people believe you will always get 7%. The people I learned from did deals until they died in their 80's. They had incredible wealth and the ability to do what they wanted. Real estate gets in your blood. It is an addiction. It is a lifestyle. It is also very hard work and not for the weak minded. 

What is your definition of exit? When you die? When you sell and go to cash? Buy bonds? What does it mean?

Just responding in an attempt to keep the dialogue flowing... 

You're right on all levels. 
I guess I didn't actually phrase the initial question specifically enough.  I personally don't see the number or exit strategy as ever being "sell it all" and liquidate the portfolio - that in my mind would be a general lack of understanding about why you should invest in RE to begin with. 
The exit strategy i was intending to ask about is more about "when do you decide the portfolio is generally big enough, hand it off to a PM, walk away (generally) and simply enjoy the passive income?". 

I guess that's the meat of what I intended to ask or find fascinating because it seem like so many people get into RE for freedom from the 9-5 but then spend more hours and stress on the RE trying to grow it into a massive portfolio far beyond replacing the income and/or lifestyle they had previously.  I guess we accidentally did some of both... downsized significantly and moved into a van so we could quit our jobs and go on the trip of a lifetime, but then realized we never wanted to go back to work and had to figure out how to survive while we waited for the passive income to grow.

Don't get me wrong... We freaked out at the beginning of covid as well.  Had overextended ourselves (buying a boat and sailing to the Caribbean does that i guess) and our back up plan to sell a house back home somehow happened right as covid hit and out tenants stopped paying rent.  Yikes. 
Probably didn't help that while we also "retired" at 35, unlike the guy you're talking about we did so without the benefit of those millions to rely on. =)  
Several months of applying for forbearance, researching bankruptcy law, etc... but in the end we just had to get creative and let the process work... in the next 12months we sold 3 properties that were dragging our portfolio down a bit, did a 1031 from a SFR to a 4plex and feel better about our portfolio and cash flow than we ever have. Weird times for certain.