Solo investor - how much scale to have steady, livable income?

I'm wondering how investors who don't collect AM/Acquisition fees (i.e. don't syndicate) are able to live day-to-day off of just the money they make from their real estate investments. It's probably close to impossible to get that going in today's market, but during "normal" times, what level of scale does a solo investor need in order to make a livable income net of any business expenses? The goal would be to have the property pay for itself while building equity, all while floating a moderate lifestyle that allows you to continue your life as a "career investor"? This number would be different based on several factors, but let's call it $7k/month ($84k/year) take home, net of all business expenses.

Another way to phrase this question - generally, what would one's personal real estate portfolio need to look like for them to be able to go out on their own and live modestly off of their investments while their wealth compounds itself?


Based on the context provided, there are a few key factors that can influence the scale needed for a solo investor to have a steady, livable income from real estate investments:

  1. Cash Flow: The cash flow from your investments is crucial. One of the posts mentioned a side business bringing in $5K a month. However, it was also noted that this might not be enough if you live in a city like NY or London with high living costs. Therefore, to achieve a net income of $7K/month, you would likely need a higher cash flow, depending on your location and lifestyle.

  2. Number of Properties: The number of properties you own and manage can significantly impact your income. More properties can mean more income, but also more work and potentially more expenses.

  3. Profitability: The profitability of your investments is also important. Some industries can clear well in excess of 30-40% 4-wall EBITDA margins, while others can clear 15-20%. The higher the profitability, the fewer properties you might need to reach your income goal.

  4. Market Timing: The state of the real estate market can greatly affect your income. Ideally, you'd want to buy low and sell high or generate high rental income. However, market timing can be unpredictable and risky.

  5. Debt Management: If you have significant debts, such as student loans or mortgages, these can eat into your income. Effective debt management can therefore be crucial to ensuring a steady, livable income.

Remember, these are just some factors to consider and the actual scale needed can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances and market conditions. It's always a good idea to seek professional advice when planning such a significant career move.

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Kind of depends on what your strategy is. If you are just buying existing properties, fully leased up, then it's just a matter of calculating your CoC return. If you wanted to generate ~$84k/year and if the market you are in allows you to generate 10% CoC, then you would need $840k to invest. If 5% CoC, then $1.68mm. For me, before the rate hikes (when rates were ~4%), I could generate $7k/month with about $400k-$500k by doing value add deals. I would buy run down triplexes that were big enough to have 3-4 bedrooms per unit for ~$1mm (80% LTV, with 100% of the construction loan financed by the bank), ~$200k construction loan to renovate (we self-perform as the GC though), and each unit rents for ~$1000/BR, so if lets say 11 beds total, then that's $11k/month. Monthly mortgage payments on a $1mm loan is ~$4800/month @ 4%, RE taxes ~$900/month, water/sewer ~$25/BR ($275/month), insurance ~$300/month, repairs ~$200/month, electricity/gas passed through to the tenants. If you PM the property yourself, then you net ~$4500/month ($11k-$4800-$900-275-$300), if you hire a PM then that's about 5% of the total rent so $550, which brings you down to netting ~$4k/month. And this amount would basically be almost all tax free due to DePrEciAtIoN. It is a lot tougher to generate this today because rates have doubled, but RE values havent really moved much. If i were to do this same strategy today, I net only about ~$2000-$2500/month, so I would have to do about 3-4 of these to achieve $7k/month.

Anyways, if you know your market and know how much properties are generally worth in your market, know how much rents are, and know how much construction costs are, then you can basically back into how much equity/portfolio size you need to generate $7k/month. If you just want to buy stabilized properties, then you just need to know generally what return sellers are willing to give you in your market.


In my mind the goal, $5MM earning 5% = $250K per year.  Passive, such as T-bills, which are exempt from state income taxes.  That along with real estate and stocks.

Then, on a personal consumption level, keep household spending reasonable.

Find a job, vocation, or start a business that makes at least what you consume, so you can reinvest.

If you have less to invest, still use this formula and keep compounding. 


Define passive, because that means different things to different people.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life

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