Early FI – Owning “Nicer” Properties (And Not Living in Them)


For long-term readers of this blog, you guys know my history/track record and probably recall many years back when I was aggressively buying rental properties, striving so hard for early FI. At the time, it made more sense for me to NOT live in those units, though, because the numbers simply dictated that I would be better off renting the properties out and collecting free cash flow.

Well, fast forward to 2019, and as I’ve been sharing with you all in recent blog posts, I’ve finally arrived at that “fun” moment in life where I decided to buy up a property as a personal residence (as opposed to another rental property).

This time around, the numbers just made a lot more sense for me to own as oppose to rent.

Although the spreadsheet numbers below aren’t “exact” yet (I’m still waiting for my initial water/electricity bills to come in, so hopefully, I’m overestimating costs here), I’m anticipating the “real figures” to look something like the following (assuming FX conversion rate of USDPHP = 1:52):

So, for “basic necessities” we are talking about needing to spend in the ballpark of  below $300 USD/month to be able to live in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Manila.

World Class Tier 1 location for sub $300 USD/month on rent?

You know it!

In contrast, if I was going to continue on living like a “digital nomad” (which is what I’ve been more or less doing over the last few years), here’s how much it approximately costs to stay in BGC, assuming booking is made through Airbnb.

From Airbnb.

Yup, well over $1,000 USD/month, with the “cheapest” listing shown above, at this time of writing, going for $1,163 USD/month (to live within walking distance of my current personal residence; in the uptown region of town).


In short, I made the decision that I did primarily because of the numbers…


For the deal that I locked down with my own personal residence:


Buying >>>> Renting


In essence — Let us assume a scenario where someone is contemplating buying/renting in BGC but can otherwise collect a “safe” 4% yield on their initial capital investment of $120,000 USD, elsewhere (e.g. dividend growth stocks).

Here’s what a hypothetical BGC example might look like, numbers wise, for a basic studio/1 bedroom unit:

So, more or less, it’s something on the order of having to spend $600 USD/month to rent, as opposed to shelling out ~$300 USD/month to own, in BGC (while at the same time ignoring any and all potential for price appreciation, for any assets under consideration).

Something like that…

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that for someone in my own situation, having access to a more permanent “storage facility” is worth A LOT (and something that can’t really be ascertained from the numbers shown above)…

Further, the added flexibility gained of being able to rent out my own personal residence while I’m busy traveling elsewhere around the world, is an option that is entirely feasible, which becomes available when going the home ownership route (BGC is a most desirable destination for tourists, so demand should be high for short-term stays)…

Home ownership is seldom ever a straight-forward proposition!

But please do not get confused here, and to elaborate even more:

I have absolutely ZERO issues with renting; if the numbers are telling you it’s way cheaper (preferable) to rent as opposed to buy (e.g. Bay Area, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vancouver, etc.) then by all means keep on keeping on… I salute you and your efforts to prioritize early FI over home ownership (which is entirely overrated)!

In the end, it’s all about trying to maximize savings so that we can invest/speculate our funds elsewhere, more wisely.

With all that said, for anyone else on the journey to early FI, I really wanted to just let you guys know that it’s also entirely possible (and ok) to own rental properties that are far nicer than the actual home you’re living in (and calling your personal residence).

Anyway, for new readers, here’s just one example of what one of my rental properties, in California, looks like.

Rental Property SH #3






Way, way, way nicer than my personal residence, shown below, right!?!

Personal Residence #1

There is altogether way too much pressure in this day and age to have to “look the part” so that we can appease people (many, who we don’t even care about). If we cave in to peer pressure, it’s very possible we put ourselves into situations that just don’t make any (financial) sense and more importantly, we do things that don’t result in us being genuinely happy.

With this blog, I’m really trying to get back to my roots (which is the path to early FI) and one way I feel like I can really help/inspire/motivate others is to share with you all my own personal stories, many of which involve some “out of the box” and “unconventional” thinking and game planning.

Well, here’s just another example of that — I own a personal residence in Manila that pales in comparison (and value) to my rental properties back home in the Bay Area.

And that’s perfectly OK with me.


I’m genuinely happy.

I have no regrets, complaints.

And the numbers make spectacular sense.


Look, I understand everyone’s own situation is entirely unique and it’s impossible to try and compare apples vs. oranges, but nevertheless, all I’m saying is you can blaze your own path to early FI without having to feel the immense pressure cooker heat of having to conform to whatever it is your peers/family/co-workers/friends/neighbors/etc. are all doing.


It’s your life, so do YOU and let the chips fall wherever they may.


Fight On!

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