While growing up, the notion of traveling and seeing the world was never talked about or even considered as an option in my family. Not until taking the time to build my real estate portfolio and making the time to take trips was it possible to comfortably and extensively travel.
Over the past few years traveling, I have been pleasantly surprised that my chosen career of real estate investing seems to be aiding me while seeing new cultures and meeting strangers on a daily basis. Below are some of these reciprocal skills between real estate investing and traveling.
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7 Ways Real Estate Investing Has Prepared Me for Traveling the World
1. Being Open-Minded
When I started my career as a mobile home investor, I was not a “people person” and to put it mildly, I wasn’t very friendly. Over the next decade, I noticed my shortcomings and started really caring for sellers, buyers, and all people in general. This fondness for people and my current career of helping people (mobile home buyers and sellers) has fueled my passion for seeing other countries and lifestyles all over the globe.
How we see others is how we may view the world. Do you like meeting new people? Do you get annoyed easily? If you are the type of person who enjoys meeting new people, trying new foods, and experiencing new cultures that are different than your own, traveling may already be a good fit for you.
2. Ability to Change Plans at a Moment’s Notice
While in the country of Laos in the Winter of 2013, the electricity went out in a very small village I was trekking through at the time. The translator I was with relayed the message that the power would be out until new supplies could be delivered from town, a one day boat ride away and back.
The next day’s plans were supposed to be caring for elephants and visiting a nearby waterfall; however, instead of hanging around the town with the pre-programmed tour I took the opportunity to travel with three tribes-people to find and buy the broken generator parts. That boat trip ended up being a once in a lifetime adventure through a jungle river that I would have missed if I was busy being upset, short-tempered, or mad that the power was out and plans were changing.
3. Creative Problem Solving Skills
While in Pai, a city in northern Thailand, I was invited over a local’s house to celebrate his son’s 9th birthday with a few dozen family friends, a full-sized roasted pig, and too much food and liquor.
At the party everyone more or less got to know each other, and I was one of the only new faces in the group. While making conversation and having drinks, I began listening to a real estate investment negotiation between two of the local guests. Uri, the host of the party, told some of the locals that I invest in real estate back in the States, so they wanted to see if I had any suggestions on the situation.
In short: Ben Buyer wanted to buy Roy Seller’s land and take over his farm. Ben Buyer and Roy Seller had already decided that Ben would make Roy monthly payments for the property and agreed to the amount per month. The only stopping block seemed to be the down payment amount Roy was demanding from Ben. Ben of course wanted to pay as little as possible, as there was more work, and expenses would need to go into the farm after closing. On the other side, Roy wanted as much as possible down, but would not take any lower than 150,000 baht (roughly $4,500) down as security.
After considering the situation, I proposed something that had worked for me many times in my own real estate history. My suggestion was for Ben Buyer to pay the 150,000 baht at closing, and for Roy Seller to consider this money as prepaid monthly payments for the next few months. This way, Ben would not have to make a scheduled monthly payment to Roy for almost 7 months. This would allow Ben to generate income and make repairs instead of paying the note monthly for the first 7 months.
To my surprise, the compromise was agreed to. The rest of the night we danced, laughed, ate and drank. Win-win-win.
4. Budgeting Savvy
As real estate investors, we budget for repairs, holding cost, time, financing costs, transfer fees, Realtor fees, and much more. A large expense (10%-20%) many investors budget for are miscellaneous fees in case of incidentals and unforeseen expenses that appear without notice. You need money in the budget or you’ll run out of capital to complete your rehab and/or resale.
Depending on the countries you decide to venture to, the art of budgeting will be a smaller or larger item to consider. It is all too common to underestimate the amount of money you’ll need to when traveling abroad. Much like traveling, when rehabbing and reselling an investment property, there are unforeseen expenses and costs of doing business.
Disclaimer: Especially while starting out as a newbie investor or traveler, it is impulsive to believe you can account for every expense along the way. A travel tour guide (when traveling) or a seasoned mentor/investor on your side can oftentimes help greatly.
5. Ability to Embrace Delayed Gratification
In my personal real estate investing business, the art of the follow-up with previous sellers is a healthy portion of my business. This group consists of sellers who have previously said “no” to my purchase offer(s) and over time have changed their minds to a “yes” answer for me purchasing their properties. This natural follow-up waiting game can take weeks or months with proper effort.
In late 2014 while trekking in northern Vietnam, the jungle often gets so thick and dense that you can’t see more than 5 feet in front of you. After hiking for several hours, every tree, rock, and small river starts to look the same. After hiking in what seemed liked circles all day, my trekking party made it to our campsite on the edge of an incredibly large rice-terrace cliff. The trip and struggle was well worth the wait and effort.
Some of the best people, places, deals, and sights take the most patience and time to develop.
6. The Practice of Patience
While real estate investing, your patience will naturally be tested and stretched. This stretching is a very good thing for other aspects of your life. Whether it is a seller who hasn’t called you back after two days or a tenant who is late on their monthly payment again, this patience practicing will help grow your patience not only in your business life but also your personal life, too.
While traveling in Costa Rica, Key West, or Puerto Rico, I can almost always expect to run into “island time” when dealing with locals. On many islands and in coastal towns, a slower-paced lifestyle is typical. Whether I’m ordering food, waiting for locals, waiting in line, waiting for whatever else, or just being helped at some sort of business, I know that the quick-service I am used to in America may not be what I get while traveling. Growing your patience may help your ability to accept and adapt to changes in your perceived delays and expectations.
7. Knowing How to Set Expectations
One of my favorite things about real estate investing is that each day typically brings something new and different. Whether I receive a new property for sale or speak with an eager buyer with cash, I am almost always eager to get my day started. My happiness level was not always this high and consistent. Over the years real estate investing, I began understanding that our expectations can oftentimes lead us to unhappiness rather than success.
It wasn’t until I understood which expectations I should consider realistic as a real estate investor that my stress level went way down and my happiness soared.
In conclusion: Whether you realize it or not, life is happening all around you. The daily habits, traits and qualities you are using, practicing, and conditioning throughout your day will grow and develop within you naturally. Start being aware of which particular traits you are conditioning within yourself throughout your daily routine.
As always, love what you do daily.
What non-real estate activities has investing made you better at? What qualities have your real estate endeavors helped you to develop?
Share your comments and stories below!