Over the years, I’ve talked to many people about real estate investing. I’ve found there are two basic types of people:

1. Will never invest in real estate because they don’t want to deal with tenants, evictions, and leaky toilets.

2. Will invest in real estate because they “see” opportunity through all of the challenges of tenants, evictions, and leaky toilets.

Once someone has made the decision to never invest in real estate, they never consider the opportunity again. I often wonder why this is the case? Why will someone write-off real estate investment completely? Could this be a mistake?

The reason why I wonder about this is because I believe it is one of the fastest ways to financial freedom. My approach to real estate has changed throughout the years and today I believe buying single-family homes for cash and renting them long-term is the fastest way to financial freedom. This strategy has come from all of the challenges I’ve faced over the last 7 years and from all of the mistakes I’ve made since my first day as a real estate investor.

In my area, I’ve come to the conclusion that the average person can achieve financial freedom with just 5 “mortgage-free” single-family homes. The income from these homes after paying taxes, and insurance is enough for the average family to live without having to work full time.

An investor can purchase a nice 3 bedroom single family home in my area for $50,000 to $60,000. This home would rent for $900 per month. The monthly taxes and insurance would be $250 leaving the investor $650 of income each month. Five similar homes would provide $3,250 a month of income.

This isn’t life changing money, but it should eliminate the need for full time employment. With five mortgage-free homes a person could work part-time at a job they love and live life well. The price for this financial freedom is somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 plus the time needed to manage of these five homes.

Owning five single-family homes DOES require work. Each home is a part-time job. For most month’s this part-time job will be depositing the rent check and paying the taxes and insurance. In other months the investor will have to make a few phone calls for a repair, or two. And every so often, the investor will have a vacancy that will require cleaning, painting, and the time required to show and lease the home again. On average, a vacancy might require 40 to 60 hours of work.

Back to the two types of people….

The person who says they’ll never invest in real estate because they don’t want to have to deal with the challenges of ownership is basically deciding¬† to work 160 to 200 hours a month, for years, instead. They say, “Real estate isn’t worth it!” but decide to work thousands of hours a year instead.

Really? Real estate isn’t worth it? You would rather work 40 to 50 hours a week for 10 or 20 years than have to handle a vacancy every once in while?

I’ve personally experienced every possible challenge with my real estate investments. These challenges include a fire (one of my properties burned the ground without any insurance coverage), 100 + evictions, a few law suits, several short sales, a few foreclosures, and a judgment or two. I’ve gone through some ugly situations in my journey and still believe real estate is one of the best approaches to financial freedom.

I’m wondering what you think?

How many mortgage-free homes would be required for financial freedom in your area? How much would the average investor have to invest in order to buy this number of homes for cash?

Take some time and crunch some numbers. I’ll bet you might be surprised to find you can achieve financial independence for a lot less than financial planners suggest for retirement.