Hot Property
MAXIM Australia|May 2021
Sydney-based couple SCOTT & MINA O’NEILL retired at 28 after building a $20 million commercial property portfolio in just 10 years. They also set up their own business, to help thousands of others on the same road, and in this edited extract from their new book they share some insight on how you can do it, too…

Thirty-one degrees. Sun on my face. Sand between my toes. Life was pretty relaxed as we lay on a beach on Kos, in the Greek islands. It was 2016 and Mina and I were relishing a six-month break from Australia. We thought we’d hit the jackpot. I had retired from my day job at age 28. At that time we owned 25 residential and commercial properties scattered across four different states.

It hadn’t come easily or by accident, though; we’d worked hard, saved for many years and obsessed over every property decision we made. Thousands of hours had gone into building this portfolio. But we had won back time in our pursuit of a lifelong ambition — to replace both of our incomes so in future we could do what we wanted on our own terms. Now we had taken the brakes off and flown to Greece to eat, drink, visit family and travel around Europe for six whole months, using the passive income we had earned from our properties. It was a deeply humbling feeling.

As I sat by the water and watched the beach chairs being stacked away for winter (signalling it was nearly time to go home), I mentally reviewed our expenses over the past few months. After all our accommodation, plane tickets, eating out and other expenses were added up, our properties still produced more income than we spent. This was our ‘aha’ moment, when we knew life would be different forever. I couldn’t believe it! Our property income was now enough for us to live off — and retire on. It was one of the most exciting moments I have ever felt, because I knew we had ‘made it’ financially. And there was no reason why we couldn’t keep travelling indefinitely. I felt like we had none of the stresses normally triggered by having to go back to jobs neither of us enjoyed.

However, there was an empty feeling there, too, like something was missing, which was strange considering we had reached such a long-held personal goal. It made me think, ‘what’s next? How had we got here?’ We had been offering some investing advice on the side; maybe we could take this to the next level and use our experience as a platform to teach others? And why not? We seemed to be the only people I knew at the time chasing this high-yielding commercial and residential investing strategy that worked so well for us. Many others in the industry were preaching outdated and slower ways to build wealth that we simply didn’t agree with. We could see there was an opportunity to show people what to do and how to do it, and just what was achievable.

It struck me then that our success owed much to the fact that we have always looked beyond our own backyard. Beyond our familiar territory in Sydney, and even beyond the traditional investment focus of residential property — to commercial property. We like to do things differently, to challenge the status quo. We like to take calculated risks, and we soon realised that you can invest outside of where you live. You can look to different asset classes to get you there and discover that the local residential market is not the only way. Our success has come from our move to invest in the commercial property market. It has held the key to our future wealth and underpinned why we set up our business, Rethink Investing, to help others on the same road. More than 2,000 investors and counting, in fact. As a result, we’re part of a new generation of investors. We invest very differently from our parents, finding a different path from the one they followed to create their wealth. We chose to focus on higher cash flow investments rather than the outdated negative gearing model, because it works.

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