Hmm, when I imagined this blog, I didn’t expect to have such a heavy message and yet I am realizing how impacted I have been by my mother’s passing and the experience that went along with it. I apologize if that is triggering for anyone and yet, I see this as my healing space, my platform, so I will allow it to flow as needed.
In Mar 2012, I moved into a condo owned by a man who became my next role model. He had the life. He was in his 70s, but seemed so youthful. He had friends of all ages, played sand court volleyball in the complex, went to yoga in the middle of the day, rode his bike everywhere (the complex literally fed into the bike path) and wore a big, warm grin while doing it. He seemed to have figured life out. In getting to know him, I learned that he owned a whopping 17 condos in the 300+ complex and his main “job” was making sure they were rented every August. The rest of the year he played. I knew I had to learn how he did it. Surely someone with a setup like that would have worked really hard to get there, right? Well, not exactly….
He was a free spirit that could not be contained. He loved to travel, explore, lived frugally and tried out a bunch of jobs, but dropped them when something more interesting came along. He told me that when he turned 40, he thought it was time to get a “real” job. At this time he was living in Aspen and took a position in a Real Estate office. He began learning the ropes and with the help of a “sugar mama” investor, he started acquiring properties and eventually got his broker's license. He got lucky and bought around the time that Aspen was becoming known so he benefitted from the surge. When he moved to Boulder in the 80s the sale of those properties allowed him to acquire others in this particular complex near the University and as units became available over the years, he snatched them up. He told me he was never concerned with getting them paid off, he just made sure the rents would cover the expenses, and yet, over time they magically did pay for themselves.
It all seemed so easy, attainable, dreamy. I wanted in. My best friend had a goal of owning a home by the time he was 27 (he was a year older than me), and it sounded like a good one, so I took that on as a goal as well (I’m really not that original with my goals, am I?).
In late Aug 2012, I moved into a 2bdrm condo in another complex across the street but stayed in touch with my former landlord and mentor. I remember one day, standing in the kitchen of that apartment, likely after giving a massage session, in my makeshift living room / office (hey we all have to start out somewhere); having the thought that I would love to have a location independent job, something I could do from anywhere. I didn’t spend much time analyzing how or what that would, instead I just really felt the freedom in it.
In December of that year, my roommate moved out and I decided to try out Airbnb (I will go into greater detail in another post) and quickly saw that it could pay my rent and beyond, the possibilities were endless. I realized that if I could remove my house expenses my savings rate blew through the roof. I made a commitment then and there to never pay rent (out of my pocket) again. For the next two years I rode the Airbnb wave hard, getting multiple apartments, living a homeless/nomadic lifestyle, all in the name of saving, frugality and the hustle. I stayed on couches, traded housing for massage therapy (my “main” business), and lived between my different apartments, always sacrificing myself when a booking came in. It was exhausting, but it worked.
In 2014, I decided to put my massage therapy practice on hold to travel with and support my mother while she tried experimental therapies to extend her life in the battle against Cancer. Although it was an extremely trying time, I knew I was right where I needed to be, and luckily, with a little bit of cleaning help, I was able to keep that Airbnb business running from afar. I wish I could recall the exact moment that I realized my dream of a business that I could manage long distance, came true, but it did, and Airbnb was it.
In the Summer of 2014, after having spent 4 months with my mother and a month at home, I realized she needed someone with her full time so I scooped her up and brought her back to Colorado. I’ve spent far too much time weighing if this was the right move because her health seemed to decline quickly thereafter, despite the many wonderful healing modalities offered here. We rented a very small apartment (like 400 sq ft studio) from my mentor. Even though I had an Airbnb apartment, it was my only source of income at the time and it was on a 3rd-floor walk-up, which quickly became inaccessible for her. As I transitioned into the role of full-time caregiver and enrolled her in hospice, it became a very real possibility that she may die at home. That knowledge in combination with the feeling of needing more space, drove me to ask my mentor for a loan.
I knew that my self-employed status was going to make it difficult, if not impossible to get a traditional mortgage. By that point, my mother was out of work for a year or so, which meant she wouldn’t have worked as a co-signer; that truth led me to somehow work up the courage to ask my mentor to help out. I explored many options, I looked into the city’s Affordable Home Buying program but after a sea of paperwork, found out that I didn’t qualify. He was really my last resort. I asked him to co-sign but he said he wasn’t interested in going through the mortgage process and instead offered a private loan. I found a condo to purchase within a week, I got the private loan sorted out and went under contract. $144,000 under a 5 year, interest only loan. Not Recommended! It may have been a mix of insanity (to take that loan) and confidence of my ability to weld the Airbnb platform. I’m not quite sure.
Looking back, I am amazed that I functioned through this process. It was almost as if I was being divinely led down this path. I was so burned out from the trauma of caring for a person who was slipping away before my eyes, I was hollow. Sometimes I wonder if I needed to be in that state to take the courageous leap…
This must have been the end of August. We were set to close Sept 26th. Throughout the process, I would lie in bed with my mother and share the updates, like whispering to a sleeping child. The Cancer had traveled to her brain and her lucid moments became more few and far between. Unfortunately, she never did she that home. On Sept 2nd, the hospice team decided to take her to the center to monitor some leg sores and she ended up passing the next morning around noon.
Despite taking on the crazy loan, I live to tell the tale. I made the rash decision to pay off the loan with Life Insurance funds I received, so I could float through the next year plus in a grief haze, unencumbered with the weight of a large loan on my shoulders. Again this is not a recommended path and is quite unusual, but I want to share my personal experiences as openly as a possible as a learning platform.
Questions are welcome below.