Real Estate Investment News & Blog

When You Can’t Bear Your Job Anymore, Read This…

From high above the Wapiti Valley…

It’s a crisp 43 degrees outside the log cabin this morning. Perfect jeans and flannel shirt weather. The Border Collie coils near the fire and the coffee mug sloshes from my last slurp.

6:33 am, wife still asleep, the house so quiet I can hear the clock tick. Pitch black outside, I imagine the neighborhood Grizzly roaming around my porch.

A neighbor emailed a photo of the bear in his yard yesterday. The bear normally stays deep within the Shoshone National Forest, but there is no fence on the border between my yard and the forest.

Bears do what bears want to do. Who’s going to stop them?

The Grizzly in Me

grizzly bear

Photo by Tony Hisgett

It occurs to me that I am finally living life as a Grizzly within my human species. I do what I want to do. There never was anyone to stop me. There were only small signs along imaginary borders with no fences.

Once I crossed the border, I was stunned at how many limitations were exposed as illusion.

I take another slurp of coffee.

I reflect on 40 years of income generation. Forty eight if you count the newspaper routes I ran from age 11. How many decades did I waste dancing to the tune of someone else’s dream?

“Waste” is the wrong word. There is value in every activity, even if its only value is revealing what you don’t want to do. But man, I wish I’d been more aware, more determined, and more courageous sooner.

The Dream… Early Retirement

But I’m here now. Been here since 2009 when we sold the trolley tour business and bought my second mobile home park. It was an early, 95% retirement at age 52, just managing our park managers.

Seven years later, it’s still as magical as I dreamed it could be. Passive income. No work schedule. No commute, no costumes, no kooky bosses or coworkers. A log home near Yellowstone National Park.

Embed from Getty Images

I reach for the mug, turn from the screen and admire the 20 foot stone fireplace.

When I was young, I had no idea it was possible to just BUY an early retirement. No one ever told me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so it never even occurred to me to look for income alternatives beyond jobs or starting businesses.

The people who influenced me in those early days meant well. They were just sharing what they knew. But they didn’t know that jobs and starting businesses were the hardest and least effective ways to generate income.

They didn’t yet realize that TIME is far more valuable than money, and that jobs and starting businesses required trading massive amounts of time for money.

Forty years later, it’s easy to see that was a bad, bad trade.

The Big Misconception

I also fell for the myth that retirement is only possible after working and saving for decades until age 65. Compound interest was described with such glowing reverence that I imagined it was first published in Genesis.

A man only has to work his entire life, the verse said, squirreling away a portion as he goes, and time alone, will propel him to a nest egg so large that its interest will then richly fund his life until he slips through the pearly gates with a smile on his face.

Whoops. No one could’ve foreseen banks and governments colluding to purposely decimate interest rates, maximize inflation and impose unfair taxes and insane healthcare costs right at the precise moment workers were ready to harvest their lifetime of savings.

Well, no one except those few who had proactively studied history and human nature.

The clock ticks. Dawn seeps through the highest chalet windows. The dog stirs, then settles back asleep.

The Epiphany

I think I was about 40 when a book gave me the epiphany that super-charged my life. I didn’t need to save a massive nest egg to retire, I just needed enough monthly, passive income to exceed the amount of my monthly bills. Once I achieved that, I’d be free of jobs and work schedules forever.

Soon after, I gained a second epiphany. I realized I didn’t have to create this passive income myself. I could just BUY an already-existing business or income property that had a manager.

And then, the final tumbler clicked into place, illuminated the pathway, and cued the harps. I didn’t need to amass huge savings to buy one of these properties. All I had to do was put the deal together in a way that satisfied the banker and the seller.

A year later, I bought my first 32-unit mobile home park with just $1,000 down.

I thought it was the deal of a lifetime. But then other deals followed, easier than the first, revealing that the magic did not reside in the deal, but in the dealmaker. *I* was the element that had been missing during all those decades working for others. Once I awoke to these concepts, the concepts began working for ME.

The Result

Magical mornings like this are now common. Gratitude attracts them as effortlessly as breathing. Fulfillment, love, and flow follow. I love writing during these magic mornings. I want others to feel what I feel.

I open the picture window blinds and gaze upon the valley floor, 1,400 feet below. I grin at overnight snow that painted 12,000 foot mountains surrounding the valley. I mumble a prayer of thanks.

I no longer worry about paying bills or stock market crashes or crazy bosses or outliving my money.

Today, I only worry about being eaten by Grizzly bears.

It was a good trade.

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About the Author...

Mike Johnson made the journey from working jobs to freelance writer to entrepreneur to passive income and early retirement. He’s owned mobile home parks since 2003 and “retired” at age 52. He teaches others how to do it at

He's the author of “43 Ways to Earn Cash Today” (for tenants) and “101 Ways to Provide Exceptional Customer Service Today” (for landlords and managers). You can also find Mike at


  1. Elsa Arisme says:

    It is very nice.

  2. How would someone start that’s 57 has one SFH rental? Don’t have many years left to build that nest egg

    • Jeanne Ekhaml says:

      Hi Dan,

      Here is a link to all of Mike’s contributions to our Blog. That’s a great place to start:

      (You don’t need a nest egg – just enough passive income to exceed your expenses.)



    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Dan,

      Jeanne pointed you in a good direction. I also recommend reading the many how-to and success stories on this website. You’ll find them concerning all types of real estate investments. Then you can select the type of investments you want to chase. I used this website to learn most of what I needed to buy my first mobile home park.

      I gravitated to mobile home parks because you can buy dozens of rent streams at once, at the least cost per rent-stream. They also require far less capital than apartment complexes or multiple single family homes. You also avoid dwelling repairs if you buy lot-rental-only parks.

      Your prior landlord experience will impress the banker and the seller. With today’s low, fixed-rate commercial mortgage rates, you can literally buy one good property and have it generate all your income needs so you can retire as soon as you stabilize systems and a manager. Time is far more valuable than money (especially when we get to our age!) so financing the deal saves decades of time spent saving. This is good debt as long as that debt lets you buy a property that puts profit in your pocket!

  3. Ted Ciuba says:

    Love this! Awake!

  4. Mike Gibson says:

    Mike, I like this sentence best from your article: “I open the picture window blinds and gaze upon the valley floor, 1,400 feet below. I grin at overnight snow that painted 12,000 foot mountains surrounding the valley. I mumble a prayer of thanks.” It’s wonderful to be the one to do the hard work and still give gratitude.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Thanks for noticing that Mike. The feeling of gratitude is a great place to languish. And I believe gratitude attracts more of what we want. The money and the time are great, but it’s the feelings of gratitude, fulfillment and peace that are the real pay off.

  5. annette says:

    An awesome post. How does someone with student loan debts, and a few others, do this and retire as well? Isn’t it about one’s credit? However, I understand some deals can be done with no credit, through creative financing, Angel investors etc. However, I like to start small and safe. I’ve noticed that there are some properties available under $10k. I would prefer to buy the property, and rent it out? How does receive section 8 monies, through their property. Also, how to go about getting a mentor in the real estate game?

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my inquiry.

    I really enjoyed your article. I could actually, picture it all.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Annette,

      Thanks for the nice comment.

      You have to start with the cards in your hand right now and then work on bettering them. One of the best things about buying larger income properties is that the banker is looking far closer at the property’s income stream than yours. The bank will make a loan up to 70% of the property’s appraised value if the property pencils out well. The banker can then see that his risk is low because if there’s a default, he only has to get 70% of value back from selling the property.

      As for the rest of the down payment, the seller will often offer a second mortgage for as much of the 30% remaining gap as the banker will allow. I bought my first mobile home park for just $1,000 down using this technique. I’d had a bankruptcy 6 years prior so I was still rebuilding my credit. You just get your act together and present yourself in the best possible manner. You sincerely want to build good character because you’ll be responsible for maintaining tenant homes and communities, requiring you to act morally and responsibly.

      You’re better off not focusing on Section 8 renters because they are a small percentage of the renter population. I don’t turn them away, I just don’t build a business around them.

      Starting small is harder in many ways than just going big right away. I had no landlord experience before buying my first park but had lots of business and entrepreneurial and communication experience. So you just parlay the talents you do have.

      Landlording eats many people alive because they never get enough units to cover unexpected vacancies, damage, repairs or large expenses. The more units, the more income and the less these events whack you. After 30 to 50 mobile home units, you can also afford a manager, which takes the burnout factor off of you.

      To find a mentor, just nicely ask people who are already doing what you want to achieve. Make it easy for them to answer your questions. Most successful people are willing to share advice if you don’t become a burden. I try to answer email questions when people write to me.

      Good luck!

  6. bILL h says:

    Absolutely True….STOP and SMELL the roses.

    At age 85 I just fell and broke my hip. Spent 47 days in the “Institution” Damn near died three times in OR and ICU….YEP, I am NOW “Smelling the Roses: and enjoying every minute.:’

    I had the $$$ long ago but the drive to achiever overpowered the common sense to siti back and ENJOY…..UNTIL NOW..

    Thought we (wife and I) had done most of It, i been all over the USA and Canada Several times….NOW we RELAX and ENJOY.

    Thanks for a wonderful article.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Great advice Bill! It’s amplified by your personal story and years of experience on the planet.
      The sooner we learn that time is far more valuable than money, the more time we have left to invest in experiencing the lives we want!

  7. Laura Ludwig says:

    This blog is very inspiring. Keep up the good work!

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Thank you Laura for liking my small part of it. I thank you also for Jeanne and her other contributors’ too!

  8. Billy McKee says:

    Where do I start Mike?

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Hi Billy,
      I’d start right on this website. Study the how-to articles and the success stories. That’ll help you zero in on the type of real estate investment that most lights you up.

      I’d also commit to awakening an hour early each day and giving that hour to your dream of financial and time freedom. Make it a study. Read materials from people who have already achieved what you want and then take the inspired actions that follow. Small advances, every day, over time, increase your self-worth, self-discipline and self-confidence, bringing you closer to your dream.

      Good fortune!

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