“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and count the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”
Jesus Christ (Luke 14:28)
Shortly after I graduated college, I moved to
(NYC- aka the
“Big Apple”). “If I could make it
there, I could make it anywhere.”
Wow! It was definitely an
experience. New York City
Honestly, I was a little scared. All the television shows and movies that had criminals crushing the common folk were in NYC. I grew up in NJ, but my parents really never took me into the big city so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The mafia and gangs could just be waiting for fresh meat to show up so they could take my lunch money every day. Who knew?
Fortunately, my physical safety was never really threatened. My issues were more on the economic side. I wasn’t making much money; I was in a sales job and wasn’t selling anything. My manager nicknamed me “rowboat”… because I had no sales (get it?). The lack of cash inflow was tough.
And the cash outflow required was excruciating. It was the $3.50 for a small apple at the corner bodega. Then buying a round of 5 drinks after work that ran $90.00 (without tip). I used to joke that it cost me $20.00 to cross the street. Geez, it was an expensive place to live!
Good deals were hard to come by. And breakfast at the food cart on the corner of my street was one of them. $2.00 got you a large coffee (with milk and sugar) and a huge cinnamon raisin bagel with butter. It was my go-to meal every morning that I’d take on the subway into work.
One morning, there was a couple in front of me in line at the food cart. I could make out parts of their conversation; it was apparent that they were visiting from the
When the man was placing his order I could see him getting
agitated. Then he said something that
I’ll never forget:
“$1.00 for a cup of coffee??? I’ve NEVER paid $1.00 for a cup of coffee in my life!”
That’s when I knew that he was going to absolutely hate this trip to the big city. I almost felt obligated to get him in a cab (and pay for it) so he could immediately return back home. If $1.00 for a cup of Joe was cause for righteous price indignation, he was due for a heart attack later that day.
He did not count the cost of what visiting
was going to do to him. New York City
Unfortunately, the same can be said of being a
The investment real estate gurus preach that you will be a millionaire through rental homes! Buy as many properties as you can! This is the way that you build residual income that will last a lifetime for you and your children’s children!
They just don’t tell you that it is a cash-poor business. All of the above can be true, but the trick is the ability to stay solvent for year upon year as things break and wear out. All the financial models go out the window when a messy eviction happens or your HVAC unit needs to be replaced (just happened to me this month- the dreaded $5K phone call…).
Carpet will not last forever and will need to be replaced. The entire house will need to be repainted at some point. Appliances only last so long. The roof too…
Long term real estate investment can be a wonderful, profitable endeavor (you’ll love your net worth!), but don’t let anyone fool you- it can and will cost you money. So before diving in too far, count the cost. A few miserable days in NYC can be remedied with an early flight home to your 25 cent coffee vendor. Several broken-down rental homes saddled with mortgages in a buyer’s market is a little tougher to navigate out of.