Make money and travel
Mike & Amy: Real Estate Investors
We recently started a new blog series where we interview various full-time travelers, sharing how they make money and travel. Our goal is to help inspire and educate others on the various ways to work remotely while living a nomadic lifestyle. If you’re new to our blog, we have been full time RVing for over two years. We support ourselves by investing in real estate; specifically in mortgage notes. We’re really excited for today’s blog post because Mike and Amy are not only awesome people and full time RV’ers — but they are personal friends of ours! We met them a few years before we hit the road in Orlando at our local real estate association. They were about to embark on full time RVing living when we met – and totally inspired us by what they were doing! With that being said, we’re super excited to share a bit about Mike and Amy and how they make money and travel full time in an RV!
Tell us your story! What made you want to take the leap to full time rving?
Mike and I bought our first RV in 2008. We were traveling a lot for work so it became our mobile office. At the time we were still living in our house and didn’t even think about full timing until 2011. We both loved to travel and the idea just kind of came to us. We already worked together selling handicapped converted vehicles and didn’t need to be in any specific location in order to make money. As long long as we had wifi and a phone – we could work.
In order to full time, we needed to find someone to rent our house. We didn’t want to sell it because we wanted to be able to come back in case full timing wasn’t right for us. Right around the time we had been discussing the lifestyle change, my parents mentioned their lease was up! We convinced them to move into our home for at least a year and we were able to hit the road.
In our first year, we saw 27 states – which was way too fast. We became homesick because we were constantly moving and not taking the time to really take in all the amazing experiences. So, at the end of our trip we moved back into our home. We did a few side trips and rented the RV on AirBnB up until 2015 when my friend emailed me a video of a family traveling the country in their RV. We both had become really restless and weighed down with the stress of starting our own business investing in Apartment Complexes. It seemed to be the perfect plan as we would need to travel to different areas and stay during renovations or to research the market. We have officially been full-time for over 3 years now and love it! We’ve traveled all across the United States, Canada, Mexico and even rented an RV in Ireland!
did you both want to rv full time – or did one partner take more convincing?
After watching the video, I ran into Mike’s office and showed him the video. He wasn’t nearly as inspired as me. Mike was hesitant at first because we had so much going on, but it had always been something we both wanted to do. When I explained how we could save money, concentrate more on individual markets, and assure our investors that we would be 100% present during renovations and management takeover he was game.
Tell us about your RV (or your first rv if you have a different one now)
Our first RV was purchased in 2008. It was a 2004 39’ Fleetwood Excursion. It worked well for us until we decided to really give full-timing a go. We needed more storage and space for working. Crawling into the back closet and moving things aside just to print or scan wasn’t working. That, and Mike really wanted a second bathroom if we were going to keep going. So after the first year we ended up getting a 2015 43’ American Revolution and we love it!
How are you able make money and travel?
We are real estate investors specializing in multi family properties. We buy apartment complexes that are in distress, fix them up, then collect passive, residual income from the investment.
if you don’t mind sharing, how much do you make annually by investing in apartments?
We make about $60,000 a year with passive cash flow from our properties. As we purchase more properties, our income increases. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “cash flow”, it means we make money every month without having to work for it. It’s passive because we get rental income every month without having to “work” for it each month. In the long term, we get a percentage of the equity with the sale of the buildings. This is what we consider to be our savings and retirement money.
How long did it take to grow your business to where you are today?
It took us about 7 years to get where are today, living comfortably on our rental income. When I met Mike, he had been investing in single family properties for a while. He flipped some, and had some rentals. After we started learning more about alternative real estate investments, and commercial real estate we decide apartment complexes were better for us. From there, it took 3 years for us to purchase our 30 unit apartment and 4 years to acquire a total of 180 units.
What does a typical “day in the office” look like?
Most of our day to day consists of analyzing properties, talking to Brokers, filling out loan docs, and replying to emails. It’s a lot of work on the phone and computer. A couple of days each week, we have meetings with our property management companies. When we buy a new property, we usually oversee the work on site for the first few months. Being in the city of the apartment complex as it closes has worked well for us. We park our RV near the site and are able to oversee the construction. This is where full timing is really great for us. We can have our home and pets with us as we work.
What is needed to get started investing in apartment complexes?
For us, it took lots of seminars to educate ourselves, networking with other investors, and attending mastermind groups. While we had experience in real estate before, the commercial side of things was very different than single family homes. The hardest part was raising money on our own as we had no real experience in raising funds. We were fortunate to have investors that believed in us. Our suggestion to others would be to find someone that is actively finding properties, purchasing properties, and is dealing with management companies directly. This is the best way to get started and learn from someone else’s mistakes.
How do you save money while rving?
One way we save money is by renting our house. When we do go back to our hometown to visit family and friends, we’re able to stay on a parking pad that we have at our house. It has full hook up so we don’t have to pay for water or electric. The same thing is true when we stay with friends, family, or even being campground host in exchange. Also with limited space we don’t spend money on unnecessary things.
What has been the most rewarding and the most challenging part of working remotely or rving in general?
For us, the most rewarding thing is that once we are done with an intense work day, we can step outside and explore a new place. It’s like an instant vacation. We love traveling and the RV has given us a life that allows us to continuously do so. We see both our families and friends more, as they are all over the place. Once you get used to the living space, the most difficult part is basic life challenges that could happen even if we were living in a house.
What is one piece of advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and start a nomadic lifestyle or invest in apartments?
Do your research and follow blogs such as this one. They are real world experiences and very informative as to what all this life entails. It’s not for everyone, and you must be able to go with the flow. Plans can change last minute while traveling due to mechanical problems and/or something else. We would also suggest maybe renting an RV to see if you feel comfortable driving it, and just living in it.
If you want to learn more about us visit us on our website www.aotdinvestments.com. We are currently working on a webinar and program about raising funds that we will be launching this summer. The program will also include a monthly call for Q and A!
We are Dennis and Liz! We’re two travel loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America full time in a Grand Design fifth wheel toy hauler. We share our lessons learned as full time RV’ers, travel tips and tricks, and the best places to eat and see in the US with you!
After two years of full time RVing, we decided it was time to downsize and simplify. So we made it official, and sold our Grand Design Momentum 328M Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel to an amazing couple that will be making it their home!
The holidays are here and that means coming up with a gift for your full time or part time RV friend or family member. To make gift giving easier this holiday season, we put together an RV gift guide to help give you gift ideas for RVers. Take a look at our top 12 gifts all under $100!
Liz and Dennis have a blast in Salt Lake City. This city has a lot to eat, see, and do (including electric scooters)! Get a taste for what Utah’s largest city has to offer!