After 16 years of managing her father’s optometry practice, Bettina was desperate for a change in scenery. Luckily for her and partner Brett, their property portfolio provided a solution.
“In 2014 we both quit our jobs. I was 44 and Brett was 54, and the hope was that we would be able to spend the rest of our lives living off the income generated by our investment properties. We’re not quite there yet, but we are well on our way.
It’s always been Brett’s dream to renovate and manage properties as a job. As an electrician, he’s handy with the physical work involved. My skills lie more with administration, and to be honest, I have little interest in property. But property investment represented a way in which I could escape from what had become a mundane job.
We’d already bought two investment properties before we decided to make that our primary source of income. Those initial investments were sparked by meeting a buyer’s agent, Jo Vadillo, at a function we were both attending. Jo’s philosophy is ‘buy something with a twist’ and we’ve made that a core underpinning of our investment strategy.
We like to purchase properties with an additional building, usually a granny flat, so that we have the potential for dual-income streams and the ability to attract a broad spectrum of tenants. The first house we purchased in Cessnock in 2012 was actually a shop attached to a house, but after the current tenants’ business venture wound down we decided to convert the title and eventually we will transform the commercial space into a granny flat. It was $276,000, without any initial work needed.
The second property we purchased, in Kingswood, already had a granny flat attached. We paid $335,000 for it and spent around $35,000 on cosmetic renovations. Three months later we got the place revalued, and it was valued at $465,000. We initially managed to get a family and a friend of theirs to lease the two buildings, and it’s now occupied by a church group paying $600 a week.
But the real reason we could afford to bite the bullet and get out of the workforce was my former primary residence in Curl Curl. We paid that off and as a result it’s given us a lot of equity, and the rent now generated by that property is what is funding our day-to-day existence.
In July of last year we bought a house in Cambridge Park, just near Penrith. We know the Penrith area now, and it’s where we can afford to buy. It was also purchased for $335,000. It had the potential to have a granny flat – it’s the first single-dwelling property that we’ve purchased. Brett and a carpenter are currently in the process of building a granny flat. The outside has been completed, and they only need to complete the internal work now.
We’re currently living at this place – a two-bedder which we plan to extend to a three bedroom. Once we’re finished here we plan to move to a property Brett purchased 25 years ago in Whalan, in the Mount Druitt region. It has a garage which we plan to convert to a granny flat.
The whole experience of giving up work has been fantastic, although we do live very frugally now. But I’m very prepared to make that sacrifice in order to avoid having to go to work every day. Having said that, I am currently in the process of establishing a little book-keeping business as another source of income but hopefully this will be more of a hobby than something essential.
The whole experience would have been much more difficult if we hadn’t worked hard to pay off the mortgage on our old place in Curl Curl before quitting our jobs. Our portfolio as it stands is neutrally geared, but we’re hoping that we will be able to generate cash flow from it in the near future. As long as we have the place in Curl Curl leased out though, we can afford to stay out of the workforce.”