Many of us dream of working from the comforts of a faraway beach and traveling the world, all the while earning through passive income streams. In this episode, Meghan Hunter shares her ten-year journey of working towards her dream life.
This week, Craig and Zeona are ecstatic to welcome Meghan Hunter, a travel and finance expert who has made it her mission to educate people on how to live a “work optional” life. As she enjoys the nomadic life in Portugal, Meghan’s successful FIRE journey continues to be an inspiration to her followers and students.
Join us for this exciting episode as Meghan shares her tried-and-tested hacks to flipping homes, finding great deals for credit card rewards, and traveling while still saving thousands of dollars.
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Achieving Financial Freedom with Meghan Hunter
We’ve got Meghan Hunter here who came down the Rocky Mountains from Missoula, Montana, to Colorado and now she’s in Portugal and she’s here to tell us her story of financial independence and how she got from Missoula or Seattle to Portugal.
Not Seattle. Where did you get Seattle?
Not Seattle. Didn’t you say she was from Seattle at one point? Where she went from — yeah —
— details. Details. Details.
Okay. Well, if you guys can pick up where Meghan is actually from and if she moved to Seattle or not during the whole episode, drop us a line on Instagram and tell us if you found it.
That’d be great.
And let’s bring on Meghan onto the show.
Meghan Hunter, welcome to the show, my friend. How you doing today?
Doing great. It’s tonight here where I am but…
Ooh, tonight. Why don’t you spill the beans and tell us where you are?
So, I am coming from just outside of Lisbon. I kind of recently moved to Portugal as part of my FIRE journey. So, yeah, I’m excited to be here.
Ooh, that is a —
I love that.
That’s like a fun, like is it foreshadowing or like a sequel? How would you call that when you’re like, “This is where I am now. Let’s take it back to the beginning to see how you got there.” So, Meghan, let’s take it back to where your FIRE journey started and when you first heard about financial independence.
Yeah. So I would say, I heard about five, six years ago but my journey, unbeknownst to me, started like a decade ago when I accidentally wound up buying a house that happened to be a house hack. So, yeah, roundabout way but I first came across like the term FIRE, it was in Mr. Money Mustache, as many people have mentioned here before, and that’s when I got really serious about investing, real estate investing, and like seeing that as a clear path to FIRE, not just kind of a, “I need a place to live.”
That’s super interesting. So it was about ten years ago so we’re talking probably, what? Like 2013, 2012, 2013?
Yeah, 2010 so, yeah, 12 years ago ish.
Okay, 2010, 12, 13 years ago, okay. And so you found Mr. Money Mustache who likes — Mr. Money Mustache likes real estate but he doesn’t talk all that much about it and so were you first on the like, “Oh, let’s just save, put into index funds, save, save, save,” or were you kind of like, “Oh, no, I can see real estate as a way to kind of expedite my path to financial independence”?
Yeah.Eventually it became seeing real estate as a way to expedite my path, for sure. Click To Tweet
I think I kind of connected with the whole Mr. Money Mustache thing just because I was always fairly frugal and so that’s kind of what resonated and a DIY-er and all of the things that I’m trying not to be anymore, for a lot of reasons. But that was kind of the hook for me that resonated with me and then, yeah, fell into real estate and, yeah, went from there.
I want to talk a little bit about why you don’t want to be a DIY-er because I have gone through the same journey and I think I’m still going on that right now, actually, because as we speak, I am in one of my properties refurnishing it and I’m on another furnishing trip right after this and I remember the last time I was on a furnishing trip, Craig was like, “Why don’t you hire that shit out? It’s not worth your time.” And you’re right, Craig. You’re right. So, Meghan, in what ways are you learning that you shouldn’t be DIY-ing?
Yeah, so that sounds exactly like something that I would be doing right now also. I did DIY, short-term rental furnishing like two months before I left for Portugal. So, clearly, I haven’t learned my lesson but it’s kind of everything. I’m just looking at everything, seeing what I like doing, what I don’t like doing and figuring out, what is it? Who not how, like how I can outsource and just really like always coming back to knowing and understanding the value of my time and would I rather be like laying tile in a bathroom floor or spending time on the beach with my daughter.So, yeah, as life goes on, your priorities shift and you just kind of got to figure out how to work with it. Click To Tweet
Yeah. I want to highlight that. It’s like as life goes on, your priorities shift, so if someone is really scrappy and I feel like your 20s are for that, like just be like scrappy, learn all the stuff, like you can work like 20 hours a day and it doesn’t matter, you barely need sleep, like really do that now and figure out ways to get to your financial independence now because, as you get older, your priorities change and it’s harder to pull those crazy long work schedules and days so do it while you’re young if you can because we just got lazy, speaking for myself, but I think a lot of people do. Yeah.
Yeah, I can totally second that, like my 20s, I feel like I could work 24/7 and I never got sick of it and now I’m like I kind of need a day a week, at least one day per week to just like do nothing, and now like the excited — like I used to love, I mean, I still love traveling, but like now like getting on a plane and going somewhere is like more exhausting than just like staying home and like not doing anything, like that’s really fun for me now. So maybe I’m an old head.
No, all of those things are totally true. And I mean, I don’t like discount any of the DIY-ing I’ve done before because it taught me so much and now I’m better able to analyze deals and figure out if like a contractor is trying to screw me or if they’re doing something the right way or the wrong way, it’s like all part of the process and, yeah, totally worth it.
Absolutely. So why don’t we take it back again, back to about 2012, maybe when you bought your first place and so 2010 you discovered financial independence, when did you actually buy your first house hack?
So, actually, I bought my first house hack in 2010 and didn’t discover financial independence until a couple years later. So I was renting —
Yeah, so it was like backwards, I guess. I was renting a mother-in-law apartment and the owners decided to get divorced so I literally got a knock on the door one day and they said, “Do you wanna buy the house?” and they were like, “We figured we’d offer it to you since you’re living here before we go to the market, it’d be easier,” and I had like zero plans of purchasing a home, I’m fairly nomadic, it didn’t cross my mind, but I am decent at math so I was like, “Wait a second, I’m paying their mortgage so someone else could pay my mortgage,” and I guess I’m a little bit of like a masochist and wanting to remodel things and like seeing potential in everything, even if you know it’s going to be a hellish endeavor so, yeah, I said yes and things kind of went from there. That particular house happened to be on a double lot so I split the lot, built another house and, yeah, that’s kind of where it all started.
Z, do you know what this sounds like?
Yes. It is…
Sounds like the…
The For Real Deal.
All right, Meghan, this is the first deal that you ever do as an investor. You already gave us a not a foreshadow but a preview. So, you told us how you bought it. Basically you were living in a place and the landlord came to you and say, “Hey, do you wanna buy it?” Now, can you tell us where this was? How much you purchased it for? Did you do seller financing? What kind of financing did you do? Like spill all the tea.
Totally. So, I purchased it for $172,000. I was in Missoula, Montana, at the time. Being 2010, I knew about the first-time home buyers tax credit during the Obama years and, yeah, I got an FHA loan so it was like 3.5 percent down. So, it was nothing extra fancy or creative, I guess, aside from the fact that I did negotiate the deal off market and felt like I probably saved 20K in the asking price at that point too so, yeah.
That’s awesome. I want to just highlight the Obama tax credit. So, that doesn’t exist anymore, which I bet some people are like, “Oh, man, I wish I had known.” I mean, I even thought that. I was just like, “Dang, if I was investing back then.” But there are so many cool programs that a lot of people don’t know about and I was talking to a friend about this recently. It’s like definitely look into what your city or your county is offering because there are all kinds of affordable housing programs and state specific ones, ones that do down payment assistance, there’s just so many ways that you can get even like $20,000 towards your closing costs. So I want to point that out to people that especially if you’re going to be owner occupying, like a house hack, look into the options because you’d be surprised what’s out there.
Totally. That’s a great point.
Love it. All right. So you ended up coming in with 3.5 percent down on $171,000 so you came in, probably you bought the place for like $5,000 to $10,000.
Which it sounds like you were a saver so you probably just had. What was your mortgage payment on that and did you rent out the big side or did you stay in the mother-in-law suite? How did that work?
Yeah, so the mother-in-law suite had been completely remodeled. It used to be a garage and they remodeled it to be a suite, but the main house was like a complete shit show. Ironically, I don’t know, the house is cursed because I ended up selling that to break free in my divorce so who knows what that means. But, yeah, the siding was falling off, the deck was in disrepair. They had glued maps to the wall as like a cool wallpaper. I mean, it was just crazy. But, anyways, being the frugal person that I was, I was totally willing to move into the main house and do like a live-in remodel, essentially, while someone was living in the nicer part of the house helping me pay my mortgage. And to your question about the payment, that was one kind of lesson, first hard lesson to learn, I guess, in my real estate endeavors. Since I did the off-market deal without a real estate agent, I thought my payment was going to be around like 950 bucks. It was whatever Wells Fargo told me it was going to be. And a couple of months after closing, I saw it shot up like $200 and I was like, “What’s going on?” Well, there was a SID, a special improvement district, the previous owners had financed a sidewalk through the city for an exorbitant amount of money now that I know like how much concrete and sidewalks costs and so it was this extra payment on the mortgage that I had to pay every month so that was a bit of a surprise, but still had 700-ish or so bucks being covered by the mother-in-law apartment so still a good deal, just a surprise.
So you were getting $700 covered or you were like actually cash flowing $700?
No, no, no, getting that covered so, yeah, I was not cash flowing.
Okay, so you were renting that side out for $700. Again, I mean, I don’t even know if your real estate agent would have caught that, like really your seller should have disclosed that, like your title company should have caught that, I would think, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.
I certainly thought someone should have.
Yeah, somebody should have caught it. But that’s a good lesson learned. Okay, so you’re getting $700 for the side and then what did you do to the big side? How much did you put into that and how much blood, sweat, and tears did you have to…
Yeah, like majority of sweat equity, learned how to use YouTube to pretty much do anything and everything from drywall to refinishing floors to plumbing a bathroom, spraying foam insulation, tearing out a wall. I mean, it was a solid remodel. Luckily, it was only about 900 square feet so it wasn’t huge but at that point in my life, I thought it was fun.
Just sleep with like sheets of plastic flapping in the wind by your mattress.
So what did it cost and how long did it take to do that remodel?
Yeah. It was 15 to 20 grand, I don’t have exact numbers anymore, but it was a four- or five-month process. I hired out things like laying some new hardwood floors in certain areas of the house, doing some roof repairs, but did a lot of the cosmetic stuff myself.
And so after getting it all done, did you just live there for a while? Did you rent it and decide to go to the next place? Well, I mean, I remember you saying that you subdivided and built the other side. Was that going to be for you or it was just a rental?
No, so that was for me so the plan that was like the brand new modern house that I helped design with the builders that I’d found and so, yeah, moved into that one and then rented out the original home, both sides, the main piece and the mother-in-law, which then it started cash flowing. It had been, let’s see, four years later that happened. So, with rents going up and being able to rent the whole property, it was a great deal to fall into.
Do you remember what you rented that other side for?
At that point, it was $1,200 to $1,250 a month.
Okay, so you’re making about $2,000 a month in rent on about $1,100 payment and so, yeah, that’s a couple $100 of cash flow if you consider reserves and all that stuff so that’s not bad in Missoula, Montana.
And a free lot.
Yeah, and a free lot.
So I think you alluded to in the beginning. Well, Z, did you have anything to add?
I’m just curious about how that goes. So, way back when, like 2015, I bought a place that came with a free lot and I looked into it a little bit but it just seemed overwhelming to figure out a builder and like what would that cost and how do you finance it so I’m just really curious, could you break down that whole process for yourself?
Yeah, absolutely. So, finding the builder, I actually was on a walk and wandered down an alley because I was looking at another house that was being built and ended up talking to the builders there and it kind of went from there. They had a lender that they use, they built a couple of other new builds in the area and, yeah, essentially, it was great because they kind of fronted the bill, if you will, until the house was built and then sold me the house. So, I did do a small subdivision a couple years later and had to go through the whole loan process, subdividing another lot and that sort of thing, which was a little more involved, but, again,like most things, it’s just like paperwork, asking questions, and finding the right people and beating your head up against the wall enough and being stubborn enough to get through it. Click To Tweet
I really like how things just seem to like magically happen for you. You’re like, oh, you know, one day, they just knocked on the door and asked me if I want to buy the house and then I’m out for a walk and I find these builders, I’m like, great. I need to just like trust the magic of the universe a little bit more. I think I’m trying too hard. Yeah.
Oh, believe me, there is — yeah, it’s not that easy. Maybe I need to tell the story differently but, yeah, you know, I mean, I had to awkwardly approach some dude standing on the side of the alley and being like, “Hey, are you building this house?” There were a lot of tough negotiations while the house was being built because they were so used to sort of having their way of building things and using certain materials and I wanted to upgrade things and they weren’t used to doing that so there was a lot that went on and, yeah, but, I mean, it was an awesome house in the end.
Okay, so, Meghan, so how much did it end up costing you to buy or to build that second place and how long did it take and how did you finance it and all that stuff?
Yeah. So built the new house for $225,000 on the free lot, which was awesome. Instant equity. It appraised for like, I don’t know, it was close to 80 grand more like once that — like immediately when it was built than what I purchased it for. And, yeah, that was another just conventional loan. So, like I said, the builders carried the cost while they were building, they were super-duper fast, it took all of like four months. They even started in January in Montana, which can be disastrous if the weather doesn’t behave but, yeah.
Super cool. That’s amazing. And so then did you rent that out or did you end up selling the whole thing?
No. So lived there for another four years and eventually sold both of those pieces of property when I moved to Colorado in 2019-ish.
Okay. And did those two properties make you financially independent? Were you financially independent in 2019?
So, no, those two properties paid for my divorce. Yeah. Yeah. So I kind of had to start over in a way. I did end up — I had purchased one more property in Montana in — it was like just right after the new house had been built so 2014 and I still own that property, it’s a short-term rental now, and have used — I’ve done a cash out refinance on that one, have used the equity, like Montana fared very well during the boom of COVID housing prices and I used that to fund more investments outside of Montana and, essentially, yeah, 2019, 2020, got super-duper serious in wanting freedom in every way possible and purchased, now I have seven properties in my portfolio, so went from three to one to seven in like a year and a half.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mindset shift that has to happen there because you obviously had the tools, right? You dabbled in house hacking and then building a new house and buying other homes, so, yeah, I mean, anybody could do that, right? But it took you this long to get to a place where you wanted to scale so what changed for you?
Again, I think it was that freedom piece. I, to be honest, felt super stuck going through a divorce and being in the court system and I didn’t love the feeling of someone else being in control of my finances and making decisions for me, which was essentially what was happening, and I’d always been entrepreneurial and had always wanted out of my W-2 so it was just kind of like a lot of things happening and me being like, “You know what, it’s now or never. I’ve analyzed 100 deals in Alabama, how many more times can I run this calculator? Just do it, Meghan. Don’t be a wussy.” And, yeah, just deciding that I was going to trust myself and trust my decision making process and go for it so, yeah.
Okay, so this is your first adventure into out-of-state investing, it sounds like, and so why Alabama? How did you find it? And were these long-term rentals?
Yes. So I have two long-term rentals there and I started looking at different markets where I could buy a house for 100 to 150 grand, obviously seeing prices in Colorado, it’s very different in many parts there. So, yeah, that was kind of my budget. And I, of course, went to BiggerPockets, just started asking questions, reading other people’s feedback, like figuring out where other people were investing. I had narrowed it down to three or four markets, most in the Southeast, and then started looking for the team, so looking for agents that understood me as what I wanted as an investor. And between finding an agent that I trusted and a property management company that I liked that worked in Alabama, I was like, “Well, we’re gonna with Alabama,” and started getting listings sent to me and, eventually, like I said, just decided I’m going to make this happen and put in an offer and what kind of happened one after the other pretty quickly.
That’s super cool and I love that you were able to actually invest, I think that’s a pretty big hurdle for a lot of people. But why did you move to Colorado? Your home is Missoula and then you went and invested in Alabama, you just wanted some Rocky Mountain?
Yeah. So I actually grew up in South Carolina and then moved to Seattle after college and then traveled for like a year in South America so, like I said, Montana definitely wasn’t my home. I don’t know if I necessarily feel that way about any particular place still, maybe Portugal one day. But, yeah, Colorado, yeah, I wanted to stay out West and have great school systems and all those sorts of things, looking for somewhere that was very family friendly and had accessibility to the outdoors so it fit all those boxes, ticked all those boxes.
So I’m going to take a pause here and put in a little ad for everyone. If you guys don’t know, I help people invest out of state and so if you’re looking to check out a new market or you’re feeling priced out of where you live, which is really common, even for us in Colorado, I own in five states and love to help people figure out other places, other methods, so reach out to me and we can do a one-on-one session. You can also book at calendly.com/zeona. All right, back to the show.
So, what happens next? I want to know when you really focused on financial independence, because there was a little bit of a difference between saying, “Okay, I really like real estate, that worked well for me, I wanna go back to it now that my divorce is over,” but then there’s another thing when you have the real estate FI math, where you’re like, “Okay, if each house gives me $300, I need X amount of houses,” like when did you have that kind of focus?
Totally. Yeah, hard to pinpoint exactly and it kind of all happened at once, like after buying that first out-of-state rental and like you do it once and then you’re like, “Oh, okay, well, that wasn’t so terrible,” and, actually, I love the fact that I’ve never seen those houses much more than the fact that I used to live next to like two of my renters —
— and could be seen at any time of day leaving my house and ask questions and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah, after the properties in Alabama cash flow really well but comparing them to some of the Colorado market, as y’all well know, it’s maybe more appreciation focused so really trying to figure out how I could construct a portfolio where I did have that cash flow enough to allow me to become work optional and FIRE but then something that would grow also. So that’s why I kept my short-term rental in Montana, it does really, really well cash flow wise and appreciation wise, actually, and then I have the two short-terms in Alabama — I mean, two long-terms in Alabama that do great cash flow wise but not necessarily appreciation wise and then four in Colorado that provide a little bit of both too. So I guess a roundabout way of answering your question is it just kind of happened as I was trying to piece my portfolio together and figuring out how to play the mix of long-term and short-term in a portfolio.
I love that you have that perspective. I feel like that’s exactly how I looked at it too is I was buying in Colorado, our whole team helps people buy in Colorado, and I always like to say that Colorado is great because you can really get cash flow and you get the appreciation because every one of my properties in Colorado, cash flow is about $1,000 a month or more and we’re also getting like, I mean, everyone knows what Colorado — the whole United States did crazy in the last couple years but especially I feel like Colorado really blew up too. And then I’ve got my North Carolina stuff as well, which is kind of similar to your Alabama, where it’s like I bought these things never expecting a dollar of appreciation, I was lucky and got some, but those are just kind of like the Steady Eddy cash flows and so maybe that’s a great way to build a portfolio.
Can we just take a moment to talk about never seeing a property? Have you still not seen those properties in Alabama? Isn’t that just delightful?
I think it really is. I do love it.
It’s funny because I feel like that is really surprising to a lot of people. A lot of times when someone’s going to buy out of state, they’re like, “Well, at what point do I fly out there?” and I’m like, “Well, if you’re not furnishing it, if it’s not a short-term rental, never. Why?” And just recently I was in Orlando at a conference and I was two hours away from some places I bought in 2019 and I was like, “Man, should I finally go up there? Should I go see these houses?” I still haven’t. It didn’t happen. So it’s kind of funny. You see them online, you online dated and that’s it. They’re just your little homes.
Yeah, I’ll keep those beautiful pictures in my mind and go with that.
Yeah, I want people to know that’s possible because Craig has all these ones in North Carolina, I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen those either, right?
I think I’ve seen two of them and then four of them I’ve never ever laid eyes on and did a whole rehab and everything and, honestly, sometimes I forget the address. I don’t even know the addresses, right? I think you get to a point where you’re like you just have to look at your spreadsheet. But, Meghan, I want to talk a little bit about kind of like your — so we kind of understand how you built your passive income and it’s mostly through real estate, it wasn’t the index fund route. Do you have any like tips on saving? Because it sounds like you’re a really big saver, you mentioned, and so house hacking is the obvious one but any other kind of tips and tricks you had?
Yeah, so another way that I feel like has been like an integral part in me enjoying my journey to FI has been travel hacking. Click To Tweet
So I’ve been a writer and editor in that space almost that entire time period we’ve been discussing, like that decade, and so I’m obsessed with travel hacking, travel rewards, side hustle stuff, making extra money outside of my W-2. I feel like I’ve kind of done it all. But, yeah, I’ve been able to like travel for almost free and I feel like that’s been a huge help in my savings and, yeah, just always hustled outside of my W-2, like being a freelancer and that sort of thing and just being frugal to the point of probably being too much of a DIY-er.
Yeah. Well, there’s some merit to that, I think, too, like not everybody is looking to scale to become the next Grant Cardone and have a billion-dollar net worth, like if you truly don’t want to worry about managing contractors and doing all that and you just think you could do it better yourself, like there’s a certain formula for everybody, right? And it’s great that you got there and you’re still extremely young to be financially free or retired and I don’t think you would have got there that much quicker if you hired things out versus not. Okay, travel hacking, we could do a whole episode on this, but can you give us like the number one thing that we could do to travel hack, not including the obvious stuff, like everyone knows about the like spend $5,000 in the first three months and get the 50,000 points, that’s an easy one, but is there any golden nugget that you got that like, yeah, you can just do this and then you get free flights?
If only life were that easy. It’s like buying a rental property. “Just do this and you’ll have a portfolio that cash flows you three grand a month.” No. Like most things, yeah, it’s a process. I mean, I would say one thing, especially for like real estate agents and people that do remodels is just not to let any of those opportunities pass you by because I’ve made hundreds upon thousands and millions really of miles and points through my remodels. There are tricks like using a certain card to buy gift cards at office supply stores which you then take to Home Depot or Lowe’s if you’re doing a kitchen remodel and you end up literally with 500,000 points. So, yeah, it’s just kind of being aware of the ways you can maximize spending in certain categories that are related to real estate. And, yeah, I mean, I’ve done weird things like bought minted coins from the mint and resold them for signup bonuses so once you kind of get into the game, you realize there’s this whole subculture of people finding out crazy ways, like the guy who bought chocolate pudding cups, there was some promotion and he ended up earning like two million points with chocolate pudding cups, I don’t know, you can Google it, but weird stuff like that pops up all the time.
Yeah, it definitely totally sounds like a rabbit hole that you can fall very deep down.
Oh, yeah, it very much is, yeah. But something’s better than nothing, that’s my view. Even if you only save a thousand bucks, whatever, it’s a thousand bucks, put it in an index fund or towards your next down payment. It’s a great way to help save.
Love it. I want to talk a little bit about quitting to get to financial independence because I think a lot of people think, well, you’re only financially independent or FIRE or retired if you’re not working at all and I think what’s really cool about being location independent, which is like really common for people now since COVID, is that you can actually just scale way back, right? So it doesn’t have to mean that you’ve quit your job, you could just be working extremely part time or even just part time and have a much more free, flexible traveler lifestyle. So can you kind of tell us if you’re still working or what kind of balance you’ve struck?
Yeah, so I am working on my own thing. So, I’m building up my work option, a woman brand. I switched to freelancing earlier last year and thought that I would kind of continue to do that after moving to Portugal just for tax purposes, you kind of have to be, and I came over here on a passive income visa so it’s tricky to actually work while I’m here. And so, yeah, I think that the point you bring up is spot on in the sense that I figured out a way to cut back on a lot of my expenses by geo arbitrage, essentially, and we’ll see what work looks like. I don’t need to work but I like to work on certain things so I don’t know where I’ll end up a year or five from now but it’s great to have options, that’s for sure.
Yeah, and let’s just define geo arbitrage for people if they haven’t heard of that. So, essentially, if I get it right here, it’s about living somewhere cheaper but still earning money maybe from a US currency so that you’re earning a really high wage but now you get to spend it in a much cheaper place.
Yeah, and I’m using the income from my rentals. Again, that’s what qualified me for this particular visa and there are a number of things that are less expensive here. Health care’s a huge one, the cost of childcare, things that would be kind of like too posh for me if I were living in the US in my frugal mindset but that I can integrate into my life here, which just makes things easier and less expensive. So, yeah. It’s harder with a kid in a lot of ways than hopping around if you’re by yourself or a young couple or whatever but you can make it happen.
So if someone’s feeling inspired and they’re thinking, “Wow, how do you get a passive income visa?” It’s like they want to look into that, can you give us a couple of pointers of how to do that?
Yeah, absolutely. So, Portugal was on the top of my list of places to move, basically, because of this visa option and it is a path to citizenship, which is another cool thing. One of my goals is to have EU citizenship just for ease of travel and my daughter can go to school for free and all those great things that come with having multiple passports, but this particular visa is called the D7 visa. It was originally, I’m assuming, made for pensioners, retirees that are getting Social Security or pensions and that sort of thing, but a lot of younger people are using it now if they can swing it, and having a real estate portfolio is an awesome way to be able to swing it. So, yeah, it’s the D7 visa, there’s quite a bit of info out there and it’s really, you know, it’s a process, it’s not like hard, it’s a lot of paperwork and making financial statements and proving that you meet these various requirements and funding a Portuguese bank account and they just have requirements based on your family size and that sort of thing so it’s just kind of, again, another like checking the boxes and figuring out how to make it work and you have to go in person to apply for the visa and then it’s a sit and wait and, yeah, just kind of a process, like anything, but one that I think will have huge returns in the end.
I think last question here that I’m super curious about is how is it traveling and kind of being so nomadic with your daughter? Because you don’t really hear many people doing that with, like as a single mom with a daughter, so curious to hear about your experience there.
Yeah, so she’s a trooper because she has me as a mom. I mean, I’ve been traveling with her since she was very small and she has a lot of stamps in her passport already and loves to communicate so I knew she’d be like really excited to learn a new language and meet new people. And so, yeah, it’s actually easier than traveling with like a group of friends where you all have to like come to a decision together because you just kind of pull your child along and they kind of have to go with it. But, yeah, it is different than obviously like my backpacking days when it just looks different in the sense that you can’t do the same types of activities that I might be used to doing or wanting to do but it’s really cool because it’s like a total learning experience for them and, of course, cliché, you get to see the world through the eyes of a child and like you really do, like everything is new and exciting and I love there’s like a whole world schooling movement where you teach your child through experience, like you’re like at the Colosseum and they’re learning about Roman history versus like reading it in a book and when I think back to how I grew up, I’m like, man, I wish my parents have done this for me. So, I don’t know, maybe I’m like reliving my childhood through my daughter but I think it’s pretty cool.
I love that. I love that and I think you’ve got a point where it’s like so much more fun to learn about the history by being there and experiencing it and she’ll actually hopefully remember it, but either way, like she has such a unique childhood and is going to be exposed to so many different cultures that when she does get older, when she goes to college and starts meeting people from different cultures, she’s not going to be surprised or taken off guard. I was fairly sheltered as a kid, not like crazy but I hadn’t really traveled much around the country much and I remember — I grew up in Massachusetts and I went to school in Boston and I met somebody from New Jersey and I thought that was the coolest thing that they were from New Jersey and now I’m like, looking back on it, I’m like, wow, I must have looked like such an idiot because New Jersey is not even that far away. So maybe your daughter won’t have that same experience.
Yeah, I think they have, I don’t know, like seven different nationalities in her class. She comes home and she’s like, “I know Russian,” and I’m like, “I don’t think so but you probably have like a friend from Russia.”
That’s super cool.
That’s why I love traveling. I mean, yeah, it’s like the lessons learned and it just teaches you a whole new way of viewing people and the world and the way it works and being open to life and experiences.
Totally, totally. Awesome, Meghan. Well, Z, you got anything else or should we head into the final part of the show?
Yeah, I would say, Meghan, if you have any final words of wisdom for our listeners, any last tips before we move to the second part?
Last tips? I would say just like if you have — it’s totally cheesy, if you have a dream, just do it, take action. Life goes by fast coming from someone who’s no longer 25, and, yeah, I think just practice makes perfect.If you’re scared to do something, just take the first step and I can almost guarantee you’ll figure it out and be better for it in the end. Click To Tweet
All right, Z, are you ready for the…
The Final Four.
All right, Z, kick us off.
Yeah. So, Meghan, what are you reading right now?
So I’m into audiobooks nowadays and I was looking at my Audible thing earlier in preparation for this question so the latest one is The 12 Week Year and I’ve had a lot of friends recommend that to me and trying to figure out different ways to plan while I grow my brand and that sort of thing and, yeah, it’s great thus far. I love this sort of fresh new look on how to play and getting shit done.
Love it. Yeah, The 12 Week Year is a good one. All right, Meghan, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The one I just gave that I just was repeating from all the other people that I’ve ever listened to say it is like take action. What is it? You can’t learn to drive a parked car, something to that effect?Again, everything that I’ve learned, I’ve just learned by doing and moving forward. Click To Tweet
I love it.
Oh my gosh, you can’t learn to drive a parked car. I really like that. I feel like that perfectly makes it, because everybody talks about, “Take action, take action,” and that’s like such a hard thing in real estate but when you think of it that simply, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. Okay. You’re not gonna get anywhere if you’re not just —”
It’s like an easy visualization too, like someone that’s just sitting there going nowhere, yeah.
And hitting the gas while still in Park and it’s not going.
Okay, well, number three, what is your why?
My why is my daughter. I mean, just being able to spend time with her while she’s still young, I think that had a lot to do with me speeding up my process and trying to figure out, again, how to make things happen more quickly because I’d gotten a lot of advice from other parents or older people that were like, “You know, it goes by fast and before you know it, duh, duh, duh,” and just wanting to have my time back to spend with her and, I don’t know, just enjoy life. There’s one thing I’ve learned moving to Europe, it’s like, wow, these people — I mean, this is a total generalization but they do know how to enjoy life.
It’s kind of stepping out of the hustle culture is eye opening.
Yeah. I do love that about Europe.
Yeah. Don’t they have like a quote unquote “balance,” if it is a balance? I feel like they do a lot more play than work but I guess balance is relative based on where your culture is.
Totally. Totally, yes.
Okay, Meghan, last kind of sorta question, what are some fun ways to answer everyday questions like, “How’s it going?” or “What do you do?”
How’s it going? Oh, my goodness. And what do I do? Two very, very complicated questions at any given point on any given week. I actually do love to answer people when I say, “Oh, I’m a real estate investor,” I don’t know why, I think I have like a — I guess I don’t give off or appear very professional in a lot of ways. I’ve never dressed in a suit and that’s just not my personality so I think people don’t expect that sort of answer from me. So, I don’t know, anything that kind of surprises them or like, “Oh, I travel for my job,” “I write hotel reviews,” “I was just in Hawaii like reviewing the Four Seasons,” yeah, that’s the way, I just like to surprise people and for whatever reason, I’ve picked an I guess somewhat interesting path in life and so the truth is enough of a surprise.
Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Especially if you kind of say — I mean, real estate investor is a surprise but if you said you’re retired or something like that, people will be like, “What?”
That’s still a little awkward for me to say, to be honest, especially to people that I don’t know because you do get blank looks when you’re like, “Oh, I own five houses in North Carolina,” or whatever. I mean, I’m sure y’all are used to it too. When people that aren’t in that space, it is kind of like, “Huh?”
Yeah, it’s a complicated subject for sure.
Okay, Meghan, well, where can people find out more about you if they wanted to hear more about your story or connect or all those good things?
Yeah. So I’m on Instagram and TikTok, @workoptionalwoman.
Work Optional Woman. Is that WOW? Do you call it WOW?
Love it. Amazing. Okay, Meghan, well, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was a pleasure having you. It was really nice to hear about your story and kind of the trials and tribulations you went through and now you’re living it large in Portugal but on a budget because you can live large cheaply in Portugal.
I love that and so, yeah, so good talking to you, Meghan. So good to get to know you and we’ll talk soon.
Yes, thank you for having me. It was great.
Okay. Buh-bye now.
And that was Meghan Hunter. Z, what did you think of Meghan?
I love stories like this because it just reminds me that I don’t have to be working the grind. I don’t have to worry about what things cost in the US and inflation, like there is a life outside where you’re separate from all this and I love financially independent people or FIRE movement people because they are focused more on enough and on quality of life and not so much the hustle or more is more. And I think in the real estate investing world, we get kind of stuck there. We get stuck on how many doors do we have? What’s your net worth? How do you grow more and more? And I just love the feeling of spaciousness and freedom and so it’s just really refreshing for me to hear a story like today.
Yeah. Me too, like I’ve been playing a lot with balance over the past year, year and a half, and I think I’ve achieved a balance that I’m really happy with but in those first five or so years, like it was grind, grind, grind, grind, grind, and I feel like anybody with any semblance of success did go through that, like Meghan, she went through that, she did a whole rehab by herself, and so you can’t avoid the grind for the first couple years but this is a good glimpse into what many of you guys’ futures may look like, think ten years from your start date, and she’s kind of just like, chillin’ in Portugal, she’s growing a business that’s really fulfilling to her, her daughter is learning new languages every new week in school and that really toots her horn or floats her boat, whatever analogy you want to call it and then like whatever — and that may not look good to you, right? I feel like we’re like now living quite the opposite life where we have a farm in northern Idaho and like that makes us really happy and so it’s really, really fun just to kind of hear these stories and hear the results of it.
Absolutely. I think there’s so much richness in a slower life so it is kind of funny that we call like money riches but when you’re chasing money, I don’t think that you have enough time to really take a deep breath and enjoy what’s around you. So, anyway, this is my little like woo-woo guru coming out but I’m just loving the reminder for myself.
Yeah, it’s okay, and we love when your woo-woo guru comes out. As always.
Yeah. And we also love when you guys listening leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It really makes the podcast grow. Share this with your friends. If you’re inspired by Meghan’s story or anything that Z and I said, share it, we want to get this word out, we really want to make people just love FI. So, again, guys, thanks for listening and we’ll see y’all next week.