Location Independence – the lifestyle of Mark and Svetlana Alexander

Location Independence – the lifestyle of Mark and Svetlana Alexander

20:17 PM, 19th November 2019, About 3 years ago 29

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This post is far more about lifestyle and mindset than property. Nevertheless, our passion to help others with our knowledge of property, finance, tax and law has been the basis upon which we have achieved location independence.

If you ever wanted a sneak peak into our lifestyle, or to ask us questions about it, then this is it. You can also follow our travels on Instragram or either of us on Facebook.

We see many people talking about and striving to achieve financial independence on Social Media, but that is something very different. My wife and I are not financially independent (by our definition) and it isn’t something we strive to achieve either. We commit around 40 hours a week to managing our business affairs and we will probably continue to do so until the day we die, or become incapable of travelling. Allow me to explain why:-

Location independence enables us to reside wherever we choose and to help our friends and family to share that lifestyle with us. The perfect temperature for us is 75 to 85 Fahrenheit and with as little rain as possible for the most part of the year. That said, we do like to mix things up from time to time, because we also like snow.

We chose to make Malta our main home for several reasons, not least of which are:-

  • the close proximity and easy access to the whole of Europe
  • 300 days of sunshine a year
  • one of the best NHS systems in the World
  • tax advantages
  • English speaking
  • extremely low unemployment, hence low rates of crime and high quality of life

That said, August in Malta can be hotter than hell, so that’s when we choose to visit relatives in Russia and England. January in Malta can be a bit grim too (nothing like the UK though) but windy, rainy and cold nonetheless. We choose to swap that for dressing up like Eskimo’s and having BBQ’s in the snow in rural Russia.

The downsides to Malta are that the fishing is poor, there are no rivers or lakes, and there isn’t much greenery or wildlife either. To compensate for that, we also have a holiday home in Central Florida. Neil Patterson recently described our back garden as being like a wildlife reserve. We regularly see aligators, eagles, osprey, egrets, pelicans etc fishing and we too are also able to go fishing for largemouth bass in the lake at the bottom of our garden. We avoid the hurricane season between the end of May through to early October.

It’s not all about money

Lot’s of landlords reading this article will be far wealthier than my wife and I, at least on paper and possibly in terms of both cashflow and money in the bank too. However, most of them are trapped by their own mindset.

15 years ago my net worth was probably four or five times greater than it is now. However, I was in a dead marriage and a business I had grown, which made me responsible for the financial well being of nearly 400 other families. I didn’t choose to cut those ties, circumstances did it for me, and for a while I was in a dark place in my own mind. My property portfolio had shrunk as a result of my divorce, along with my bank balance and especially my income. I had a few relationships and business ideas that didn’t go to plan too. I considered them to be setbacks or learning experiences.

That’s when I met and married Svetlana and my new life began to unfold.

However, it was George Osborne’s announcement of Section 24 restrictions of finance cost relief which inspired us to change everything. That’s when we began to define what was really important to us, i.e. location independence and our ability to help and inspire others to improve their own lives.

Rather than building another empire, which is what traps most financially successful entrepreneurs and had previously trapped me, we focused our efforts on systematisation and building relationships with like-minded individuals. To this day, Property118 has only two employees, and neither Svetlana or myself are either of them. I head up the Property118 tax team, which is a role I can do from anywhere in the World so long as I am able to connect to the internet. I had founded the Property118 blog to to facilitate the sharing of best proactive and nothing has changed in that regard.

The Propery118 tax team is made up of a team of self-employed tax consultants, accountants, estate planners,  solicitors, a barrister and an outsourced IT business. The day to day management of our own rental property business is outsourced to LettingSupermarket.com and my accountants, but my wife and I still spend a considerable number of hours a week overseeing all of the activities we remain accountable for.

We communicate with all of these teams using a Voice Over IP telephone system, which still has the same telephone number I have used throughout my entire business career. The same number works all around the world, both on my iPhone and my laptop. We also use Zoom video conferencing for face-to-face business meetings as well as email and social media.

Time zones are less challenging than we first anticipated, because people we choose to work with respect what we do and are happy to work around us. For that we are truly grateful.

Common Q&A’s about our lifestyle

QUESTION – Don’t you miss your friends and family?

ANSWER – We actually get to spend more quality time with friends and family than most people. Before we had this lifestyle we would see our parents, siblings and friends for a few hours every week at best. Now we spend quality time on holidays together. When we are not in Malta our parents, family and friends are welcome use our home as their holiday homes, likewise for our holiday homes in Florida and Russia.

QUESTION – How do you find the time?

ANSWER – We all have the same amount of time in every day. We spend around 8 hours a day working on weekdays for around 45 weeks a year. However, we work when we choose to work. Sometimes this is during office hours, sometimes it’s in the middle of the night. Flexibility is key. We travel at weekends. We play tennis and go out for meals in the evenings and we sleep for around 8 hours a day. Sometimes we sleep in the day, sometimes at night, sometimes both. If we fancy a few cocktails in the afternoon on the beach or a boat, followed by an afternoon siesta, that’s what we do. Nevertheless, we endeavour to respond to all business related matters within 8 hours at maximum. We also outsource more things than most people. For example, we don’t care much for DIY tasks such as gardening, cooking, cleaning, pool care, washing and ironing etc. and it costs us less to outsource those tasks than we can earn in the time it would take us to do them less effectively for ourselves.

QUESTION – What cars do you own?

ANSWER – We don’t own a car. We use taxi’s, public transport or hire cars. It isn’t economically viable for us to own, insure and maintain cars in all the places we travel to. Instead, we prefer to hire a car that suits our mood and the circumstances. Sometimes it’s a sport car, sometimes its a big SUV, sometimes we hire a chauffeur driven luxury car, but for the most part we use the likes of Uber/eCabs/Lyft/Bolt/Wheely/Yandex taxi or equivalent taxi company Apps.

QUESTION – Are you not concerned about the carbon emissions associated with all your travel?

ANSWER – Yes, which is why we endeavour to be carbon neutral

QUESTION – What is your work philosophy?

ANSWER – We treat our tenants like we would treat people we want to stay friends with and we look to save our professional clients significantly more than we charge. We are also great believers in sharing best practice.

QUESTION – Are you religious?

ANSWER – Not particularly, but we do believe in higher forces and treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. We passionately look to embrace and learn from other positive cultures.

QUESTION – What are your hobbies?

ANSWER – We both enjoy tennis but neither of us are not very good at it, likewise for fishing. Svetlana is an award winning artist and florist. I enjoy any being a spectator of all Motorsports, but especially Speedway Grand Prix. I have also been fascinated with martial arts since I was a teenager. My nunchaku are never far away. At least once a year we enjoy a road-trip with friends. We did the Cannonball Run Europe in 2017 and 2018 and a road trip around all the best places in California this Summer. We also love eating out, especially when we are also being entertained with live music or a show.

QUESTION – Are you buying or selling property?

ANSWER – We stopped buying quite a while ago when we made a conscious decision to enjoy what we set out to do in life.  We are gradually selling off properties to reduce our commitments. However, we wait until tenants decide to serve notice and move on before making any such decisions. We then look at what the net sale proceeds would be if we were to sell the property and divide this by the average profit we have made over the last few years. If we have a need for cash we are more likely to sell, but if the net profit expressed as a percentage of capital invested is upwards of 10% then we are more likely to hold onto them.

QUESTION – Have you ever been arrested, bankrupted, struck off as a Director or had a CCJ?

ANSWER – No. I have included this because some hateful people have implied that we have. Our view on ‘haters’, by the way, is that all successful people have them. If you don’t have any, then you’re either blissfully oblivious to them or have nothing for others to be envious of. The people with the most haters in the World tend to have more control of it!


If you would like to ask any more questions about our lifestyle please feel free to do so via the comments section below. If we consider them to be too personal we reserve the right not to answer them or even delete them if we consider them to be inappropriate or abusive.

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9:44 AM, 21st November 2019, About 3 years ago

You say that the day to day management of your property business is delegated to lettingsupermarket.com and your accountants. Is your property business now a limited company, or it it some other structure?


12:19 PM, 21st November 2019, About 3 years ago

Hi Mark
What an inspiration your lifestyle is to me and I am sure many other Landlords. Would you mind telling me what are the tax advantages to living in Malta?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

12:29 PM, 21st November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 21/11/2019 - 09:44
It is some other structures. Nevertheless, as I also said, we spend a considerable amount of time running it. Does Richard Branson fly is planes?

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

13:41 PM, 21st November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Sassone1 at 21/11/2019 - 12:19
The biggest tax advantage associated with a British landlord residing in Malta is CGT. We only pay CGT in the UK on capital gains post April 2015 and nothing whatsoever in Malta. The income tax position is no different, in that rental profits continue to be taxed in the UK under the same rules as if we were still living there.

We do not pay UK dividend tax though and we would only pay tax on dividends in Malta if we were to remit the money to Malta. On that basis, we use dividend income to support our traveling.

Mick Roberts

8:51 AM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

U say:

'The perfect temperature for us is 75 to 85 Fahrenheit and with as little rain as possible for the most part of the year. That said, we do like to mix things up from time to time, because we also like snow.'

That is so me ha ha. I've had 7 holidays abroad this year to get that drug. And skiing in 7 weeks to get me snow.

I've just had rainy UK in-between, along with the barrage of abuse from Govt & Councils of course.

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

14:57 PM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Alexander at 20/11/2019 - 14:52
Hi Mark, thank you for sharing this with us. Very glad that it’s all done in the UK and/or Europe. My bad, I didn’t check the source code. Clues there that it’s Wordpress. You have been very candid and it has been enjoyable reading about your life.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

15:09 PM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 23/11/2019 - 08:51
Hi Mick

When you are away for 14 weeks a year in the sun or the snow, how do you manage your business, specifically rent collection/bank reconciliation and unplanned maintenance

Monty Bodkin

15:32 PM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Alexander at 23/11/2019 - 15:09
Dunno about Mick but I can use a phone/email/check bank accounts just as quick in mainland Europe as I can in the UK.

Mick Roberts

17:30 PM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Alexander at 23/11/2019 - 15:09
My, thanks for asking Mark, happy to share my tips ha ha.

I only go away for 7 days at a time Mark, I love me luxuries of me house too much.

But yeah, 7 weeks. I pretty much have things on autopilot. Evicted the last lot of bad tenants last two years, so less time consuming there.
All tenants know what to do with repairs, text me address, phone number & job description, quickest way for me to forward to plumber.
They know they have rules Mon to Fri 8 to 5 & I give 'em 100% more than anyone. They starting texting even at 530pm & I don't even solve their query the next day.

A lot more tenants are more behaved on the rent now, now they know their mates have been in homeless for a year cause of Licensing. They know I want to sell the houses & am only keeping the houses for them, so them that know respect that.

I give 'em full access to plumber, although 80% can't even ruddy save his number.
All houses modern combi boilers etc., so less problems.

I have about 8 now with Letting Agent.

My biggest things are Can u have a plan if u lose a key? Have a water leak? Pay the rent without being reminded? Amazing many can't do them 3 & they do get told they will be with Letting Agent which they really don't want to even though it's still me, they only want to deal with me. And I say How u gonna' manage if I'm 10 hours on a plane & I can't answer?
I used to have my Line 2 (2 numbers on 1 phone), diverted to sensible person in UK, but no need to any more.
Probably my biggest thinking before I go away is to make sure my 4 file holders of house keys goes to a mate local who always gets his phone.

Don't get me wrong, I do get problems, but probably 50% know when I'm away so leave me alone. And if others have a problem, they do text or ring when I'm away.
And my Cyprus 2018 holiday I was 3 hours by the pool on Friday chasing 8 rents that hadn't come in. Not ideal I know. But some of them tenants have gone now.
Not ideal I know taking calls on holiday, but I say this, the business don't stop just cause I go away. The water leak don't stop cause I decide to go away. I don't mind sometimes some'at to challenge me brain, as I can't sunbathe 8 hours a day like her. A break on the phone to solve something is quite rewarding.
I also tell meself I'm only away cause of the business, so respect that. It's the business that pays for me to come away, so don't moan if phone rings. And it provides us with good hotel accommodation when I'm away, so least I can do is fix their problems while I'm away.

Most rents in the bank now as Monty says. Those that still insist on cash either pay before or after & virtually all (Ouch am I saying this ha ha) are pretty good not wanting to get in arrears cause they know I stick to my word & look after 'em. Most have got pretty good houses with my word I ain't selling on 'em if they good & loyal to me. If they a s__t to me, I warn 'em I'm selling house. And a lot talk to each other, I have lots of sisters, cousins, Mams in houses etc. And they do know of people that have been utter bast__ds that have been evicted. So they know I'm being good to them, not selling on those that just do the normal thing. I say All I'm asking is for the ruddy rent on time-Is that a crime? I've got one woman, I've not been in her place in 16 years, Ouch, Licensing won't like that.

Since I've started texting rents, a lot more success as for some reason tenants think Ooh, that text says I must pay, I must do it. My copy of text below if anyone wishes to use it:

XXX, your £572 monthly rent due this Friday, tomorrow on the 28th ev month.
If bank Hol and weekend, everyone gets paid before.
If Universal Credit UC pay your £469.15 into my bank, then u only have to pay the below. But the whole £572 rent is your responsibility so have £572 ready as it is your rent.
I have to tell people like this now as when they being switched to Universal Credit UC and UC don't pay, tenants are saying it's not my fault. Rent is tenants responsibility to pay, not Landlords.
As long as UC pay £469.15 every 28th of month, £102.85 will be your top up ev month, the same time we get told about your UC payment too, so we can do 1 lot of paperwork and admin instead of 2 separate payments and dates.
If u can pay into our bank before 9am like all other automated payments.
U must check your journal and £102.85 rent minus the Housing Element what UC are paying is what you have to pay. As only u can see your journal and know what UC will be paying.
This is constantly 1 month + 1 week in arrears.

Builders are pretty good on emergencies & main thing is plumbers who although unreliable, will get me out the crap.

Mates daughter on this one below, she used to cost me 3 hours every holiday while I was by the pool. She has now gone.

This is how they leave em when u let em off with the deposit 9 years ago when they moved in:

Tenants from Hell Heronridge.

This was the condition of the house 4 months before. Reasonably good. In fact one could say very nice from the photos.
And the girl says she's done nothing wrong:


My main time consuming thing is now Licensing & Universal Credit.

It's better when I''m skiing as missus don't come, and she gets the odd rent & has the keys & can look at the odd emergency thing, although and I kid u not, she don't know where 20% of the houses are.

And don't get me wrong, my first 2 days to 7 days back is constant, sometimes a whole day in office just processing the rents that's come in the bank.

And there is how I run business when I'm away.

One of my time consumers is your 118 site Mark ha ha. I don't like to ignore people if they need advice or answer. And on my posts, I must always reply to a question & then it's making sure I get to my emails eventually. So u Mark are costing me time ha ha. Yes I know I get info back, I am kidding.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

17:46 PM, 23rd November 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 23/11/2019 - 17:30
Thanks for the response Mick. It sounds like you actually enjoy such a hectic life. Good for you my friend.

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