Last month, my husband and I picked up the keys to our family home. It was such an amazing feeling walking through the doors knowing the place was all ours – not the bank’s. We had finally achieved our goal.
While owning our home outright was never in my short-term plan, it was something I thought would happen eventually. My more immediate focus was on building a portfolio of properties to provide a future income stream. My husband had little superannuation, so we needed other assets that could help fund our retirement.
purchase was a 1970s two-bedroom unit, south of Sydney, purchased for $353,000. With its yellow benchtop and dated bathroom, it was nothing flash. But we didn’t mind, as it was just the start for us. We had been saving the deposit for 18 months prior while I was on a graduate-level wage and my husband worked part time as a chef.
When the time came to find a
, we had our work cut out for us. My husband’s casual income was not taken into account and I was on a small wage. After being turned away from our usual bank, we found a mutual bank that offered a 40-year loan term. This was the only way we were able to secure funding.
We could have given up when we first got turned down, but we knew from how aggressively we had saved that the loan was well within our means to pay back.
As it turns out, I moved on to better paying roles over the next couple of years and my husband changed careers to become a carpenter.
to our portfolio each year. A small one-bedroom fibro house down the South Coast of NSW for $160,000 was not a pretty place, but the sums worked to make it a good investment. The holding cost was around $50 a month for us before tax breaks.
In 2012, we used a buyer’s agent to purchase a three-bedroom house in Sydney’s Blacktown for $389,000. With my husband’s carpentry skills, we added a granny flat making it a dual-income property. This meant that from day one the property was cash-flow positive.
We purchased a four-bedroom home for $720,000 the following year. It was already set up as two separate dwellings, so we lived upstairs and rented out the bottom. This helped us pay off a portion of the mortgage.
and used the equity in our other properties to fund the new house.
We were far from the wealthy property speculators you might imagine. We were simply a young, newly married couple on fairly modest wages who saw the benefits of investing early on.
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By this point, all our investment properties were cash flow neutral, bar the one we lived in. This was important for us as we wanted to start a family and knew we couldn’t rely on our incomes to prop up our investments.
It was not until we had our two daughters that we realised how hard we were working just to pay off the mortgage on our $720,000 home. We sat down to work out how much of our income was needed to keep the place and came to the realisation that spending more time with our girls was a greater priority for us.
We did the math and worked out that if we sold our south coast property and our principal place of residence, we would have enough cash in the bank to purchase a home mortgage-free.
In order to do this, however, we needed to leave Sydney. We decided to move to the regional NSW city of Coffs Harbour – where my husband grew up.
Work opportunities are harder to come by up here, but with our new-found mortgage-free status and a lower cost of living, we now have far less pressure to earn a high wage.
By choosing to make sacrifices and go without certain luxuries in our earlier years of marriage, we can now enjoy the choices those decisions afforded us.
We’ve found the happy balance between owning our own home and still keeping a foothold in the Sydney market with our two remaining investments.
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