A chance encounter with the work of author Tim Ferriss would change the course of my working life in a way I never thought possible. It was November of 2012, and just like most successful people I knew, I was nose to the grindstone. A dedicated salaryman (see Japanese translation) earning a great income working in property development, albeit in exchange for most of my waking hours. If I could just manage to stick at this for the next 30 odd years, I’d have enough money to fund a great retirement and to finally be free!
Scanning through the pages of Ferriss’ book – oddly titled ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ (a gimmick I can assure you) – I read something that has become a source of endless motivation in my working life. Ferriss wrote about abandoning the deferred-life plan and choosing to have the life we want now.
My immediate question was “How? How do I create a lifestyle I want in the present?” The answer: by following an uncommon set of rules, and most importantly, by questioning the common way of doing things.
Rather than charting a path of scrimping, saving, and sacrificing for a rainy day in the future, in order to pursue an uncommon lifestyle, we need to make smarter and more efficient use of what we’ve already got. So where is best place to start? Well, if you happen to fall into the 67% of Australians who own property (ABS, 2016), it’s probably not a bad option. Regardless of type, zoning, use or size, thanks to the unprecedented property boom we are experiencing in the Hunter (according to figures released by the NSW Valuer General, during 2016/2017 land values in the Hunter increased by a reported $19 Billion or 15% alone) there has never been a better time to capitalise on the wealth and potential income trapped in property.
I must provide this caveat; the objective here is not to accumulate a mountain of riches – billionaires the world over are evidence enough that money does not buy happiness. Rather, it is to generate sufficient wealth and income now and into the future to provide us with options and ultimately greater freedom in how we choose to live.
In order to have what we want now, we do need to act. This is simply about taking stock of what we own and looking at strategies we could be utilising to bring forward our ideal lifestyle. Unlike other highly liquid assets such as shares, we very infrequently stop to assess the value and performance of the properties we own, and with so much of our wealth trapped in property, it’s mind-boggling that this is the case.
Wealth, equity, value, call it what you like, is nothing more than lazy money when it is trapped in underperforming or underutilised properties. Leveraging off the strength of the local market, which is being spurred on by unprecedented national interest and investment in the region (the word is finally out!) there are so many different ways we can reduce holding costs, increase income and release value from properties we own.
Subdividing and selling underutilised land, re-developing properties to cater for their current highest and best use, creating new and increased rental streams; these are all strategies we can use to bring forward the choice and freedom that common thinking tells us we should be waiting a lifetime for.
So, if you’re like me and the thought of an uncommon lifestyle floats your boat, it’s time to take action. To use the words of Joel. A. Barker, “goals without implementation are nothing more than dreams.” The opportunities are all around us; they may even be directly under your feet.