I bought my first house when I was 23 and now I own four. Here’s how I did it

Hi there. I’m an Aucklander. I bought my first house when I was just 23 years old. I turned 30 last month, and I already own four Auckland properties.

So how did I do it? Let me tell you.

But first, a warning. This is a story about sacrifice. About setting goals and working hard. Some people have it easy, but not me. There was no inheritance, no rich parents ready to help with a deposit or to stand as guarantors. I got where I am today after a lot of hard work and effort. And yes, it was tough at times. But you know what? If something you want comes too easily then you probably didn’t really deserve it.

If that doesn’t sound like your deal, and you’re looking for an easy solution, you may as well stop reading this right now.

What’s my secret, then? How did I come to own four properties before the age of 30?

Let’s go back ten years. I had just turned 20 and had been flatting for a couple of years after leaving my Mum’s place. It became apparent to me very early on that renting was a mug’s game. It’s bad enough seeing half your paycheck go into someone else’s pocket, especially when the place you’re living in is a vermin-infested dive and the owner won’t pay a cent to maintain it. Add to that the trauma of being forced to move when the landlord decides to sell the house, and the everyday drama of having to live with feral flatmates who never clean or pay the bills.

I just had enough of all this shit one day. I figured there had to be a better way. I decided I was going to own my own home, and then I would call the shots. On that day I took my first step on the road to financial security.

At first I set myself a realistic goal. I thought if I could save maybe ten thousand dollars over the next twelve to eighteen months, I’d be on my way. I was working as an office junior at the time, earning not a lot more than the minimum wage, so at first it was hard to put aside anything. If in a week I scrounged fifty bucks to put into my savings account it was a big deal and I’d feel the need to celebrate by—you guessed it—blowing money at the pub. But fifty bucks a week wasn’t going to get me a deposit on a house, so I forced myself to take a long hard look at my life and where I was spending all my money. I worked out that if I stopped going out in the weekends, cut down on the drinking and avoided all the fast food, I might just be able to hit my target. And so that’s what I did.

It meant not going to the pub with my mates, not going to clubs or the movies, and staying away from the mall. I ate frugally, avoided cafes, and never bought junk food. Life was dull at times, but I kept focusing on my goal. I also cancelled my Sky TV subscription and started going to the library instead of buying new books. It turns out that you can borrow most things for free at the public library. Who knew?

In some ways it was good to become a recluse, because it meant not having to listen to all my friends bitching and moaning about property prices. They would go on expensive holidays and eat at pricey restaurants, and then they’d complain about how they could never save for a house deposit. Some of these guys were earning big money, and still they’d have nothing left in their bank accounts at the end of a pay cycle. Oh, and their idea of renting was Grey Lynn or Ponsonby. And me? I’d moved into a cheap place in South Auckland (and before you ask, going back to live with my parents while I saved for a deposit wasn’t an option. Family shit. That’s all you need to know). The commute was terrible and my travel costs went up, but it was still less expensive than living in the inner-city burbs.

I hit the ten-grand target quite easily, and so I set a further target, and so on, and within three years I just about had a deposit for a house. It wasn’t going to be a flash house, mind. Just a cheap do-up somewhere in South Auckland or maybe out West, where prices weren’t as bad. By that time my girlfriend had moved in with me, and we were both working hard to put money aside. Having someone else share the load helped a lot, I’ll admit. Things were on track, thanks to a shitload of hard work and dedication.

So that’s how I saved enough for a deposit on a house. It’s just a pity it all went so wrong after that.

My father lived in Australia. He’d been a chain smoker for most of his life, and eventually it caught up with him. He battled the cancer for about six months, but it was no use, and the end was awful for everyone. I must have flown to Sydney five or six times during that period to be by his bedside, including twice when doctors told us Dad was at death’s door and might slip away at any moment. Both times were false alarms. And then there was the funeral and sorting out the messy estate. Oh, don’t worry, I got nothing! Dad didn’t have any money. Just debts. I probably blew a good third of my house deposit on flights and accommodation, just to be with my dying father. I did everything I could to get the best flight deals, and I slept on couches where I could, but what else could I have done? He was family, and I had to be there for him.

About a month after Dad died my girlfriend was made redundant. I now found myself supporting her while she looked for work, which I was happy to do, but it meant there was only one person paying the bills. We’d been sharing a car, a pretty clapped-out old thing by that time, and of course the car decided at that very moment that it was time to give up the ghost. We were faced with a repair bill in the thousands of dollars, or alternatively buying another cheap car that would probably also break down. I needed a car, as public transport just wasn’t a viable option for me, given where we lived. We looked at moving closer to my work but just couldn’t afford the rent.

Then I got sick. I contracted what I thought was just a bad dose of the flu, only it turned out to be a severe respiratory infection that left me struggling to breathe, and nothing the doctor prescribed would get rid of it. Things went downhill pretty fast. My boss was good about it at first, but he couldn’t hold the job open for months in the hope I might one day turn up to work. I was in hospital for three weeks, and was bed-bound at home for weeks after that. My employer let me go, and I used all my savings just to pay the rent, food and power. I became depressed and probably wasn’t the nicest person to live with, so I don’t really blame my girlfriend for leaving me, even if she did take up with my brother Eric. That hurt, I can tell you.

Now I was broke, unemployed and depressed. There seemed little left to live for. All my hard work and belt-tightening had been for nothing. I came to the realisation that if you really wanted to get onto the property ladder it wouldn’t be enough to work hard and cancel your Sky TV subscription. You would need to be lucky too. It would help to be healthy, devoid of financially draining familial obligations, and close enough to your work or public transport that you didn’t need a car. And no matter how hard you worked, a sudden change in your financial circumstances might destroy everything.

But none of that matters. You still want to know how I did it, don’t you? How come I now own four properties? I worked hard, I strived, I cut out all those little luxuries, and still it wasn’t enough. Let me tell you my secret.

I knew a guy who was into some seriously dodgy shit. Drugs, stolen cars, you name it. This guy offered me the opportunity to make a lot of money and I thought “fuck it, I’ve got nothing to lose”, and that’s how I got into the methamphetamine business.

It’s high risk, but the returns are huge. We import the raw ingredients, our cooks make the stuff, and then we sell it. I’m also running a few other little schemes on the side, like illegal gambling and dog-fighting.

It took no time at all to save a deposit for my first house. In fact, the only thing that’s kept me to only four properties is all the time it takes to launder all that dirty money. Oh, and because I like to spend most of my loot on women, booze and fast cars.

And that’s my story. That’s how I managed to be so successful. I got where I am today after a lot of hard work and effort, and none of it did me any good. I didn’t know at the time that making and selling drugs would be so much easier. That turned out to be a fucking cakewalk by comparison. And now I’ve got Sky TV in every room in my house.

You can work hard if that’s your gig, and good luck to you. You’ll need it. Or you can do it my way. Just find some highly illegal activity that promises huge rewards, and before you know it you’ll be made.

But just a friendly word of caution. I’m not about to let someone else muscle in on my territory. So if you ever try to sell P on my turf, I will kill not just you but your entire fucking family.

2 thoughts on “I bought my first house when I was 23 and now I own four. Here’s how I did it

  1. Your story is very similar to that of a good mate of mine, he made a pile by nefarious means (flash Auckland houses and all) but it all ended up in the hands of the IRD and he had to skip the country

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