Location Independence – the lifestyle of Mark and Svetlana Alexander

by Mark Alexander

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

Location Independence – the lifestyle of Mark and Svetlana Alexander

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Location Independence – the lifestyle of Mark and Svetlana Alexander

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!

ANY MORE QUESTIONS?

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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Comments

Mick Roberts

21:58 PM, 23rd November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Alexander at 23/11/2019 - 17:46Ha ha it's not hectic, far from it actually. I have rules. Nothing after 6pm even with mates etc. talking about work. Don't care if a tenant wants to pay me a year's rent after 6pm, Sat Sun etc. I wun't take it.
Got mates in houses and we know don't even want to talk about business while on the bike on Sunday's.
I've probably made it sound more hectic from my description above of the plans put in place to stop it being hectic. I like calmness.
I don't mind a few problems in day. Problems are there to be solved.
Turn a negative into a positive.
Pressure is good for u.
Stress is bad for u, stress is problems u can't solve.

Mick Roberts

22:06 PM, 23rd November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

We also have a mate with 10 houses that comes skiing. When he has a water leak in UK, it's like the world has ended. The stress.
I have two water leaks, and other mates say to me, Have u just had two problems? They don't even know like the other lad shows it.
I just ask for their phone number in same text as they often forget. And cause I know which plumber is good at which job and what time is best for each plumber and which plumber is busy elsewhere at the time, I just forward to right man

I was in Tenerife last week and had two water leaks in same day. Plumber did both same day within an hour.
I think it's knowing your men and tenants and understanding em. A lot of people are poor at understanding others. I think I'm pretty good at understanding others needs. Although I still han't managed to master a full refurb without being there every day for 20 mins.

MariaL

23:23 PM, 23rd November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your lifestyle tips. It is very interesting . Can you please tell me which telephone system you use. I need one where I can use my UK number but when I have incoming calls my callers would not pay for international calls . Which means my callers would not know that I am abroad. Does something like that exist ? I would love to have freedom like that being able to work from homes /hotels in different countries and still being able to run my UK based business .

Amjed

23:55 PM, 23rd November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Thank you Mark for sharing. Sorry to hear about your issues. Diamonds can't be made at room temperature! Likewise you don't see truly strong people who haven't had difficulties.
Sadly many people just see your success and not the road you travel. They think you've had it easy as if you've never had to work and struggle for what you have. Please continue with your good work.

As for me I've dedicated the best 32 years of my life helping others as a Cardiologist. Now it's time to think about me and my family though sadly with out my parents. I will be booking a tax review in the new year.

Mark Alexander

23:58 PM, 23rd November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Amjed at 23/11/2019 - 23:55
I look forward to helping

Mark Alexander

0:34 AM, 24th November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by MariaL at 23/11/2019 - 23:23
Hi Maria

I use a system called BT CloudVoice, which does everything you have suggested and more. For example, I also have it set so that if I am on the telephone or cannot answer within three rings the call is automatically redirected to my UK based PA. Calls can just as easily be redirected to a virtual PA or call centre.

There are phone apps and also a PC based apps for the system too.

When I cal people in the UK it shows a UK number and likewise they can call that same UK number at UK rates, regardless of where I am in the world. Best of all, I only pay UK call rates too. You must have a decent internet connection though. Some mobile networks in some Countries are not very good, but if you have WiFi or a good 3G signal or better it’s fine.

I can even use the phone through Bluetooth if the car I’m hiring at the time has that.

Rental of the service costs around £10 per month per line.

If you give it a try, please let me know how you get on with it.

MariaL

9:40 AM, 24th November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Alexander at 24/11/2019 - 00:34
Thank you so much for your quick reply, Mark. This sounds perfect . You gave me hope that one day I will also have freedom of spending my precious time in sunny places rather than being tied in to rainy UK where my business is based

Mark Alexander

14:06 PM, 24th November 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by MariaL at 24/11/2019 - 09:40
You’re welcome, good luck

Jonathan Clarke

4:38 AM, 2nd December 2019
About 6 days ago

Good thread
Happiness is doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, with the people you want to do it with - and of course having enough money to do it all with .
Its 4.38 am Monday morning and I`m currently watching the cricket and at 10am I will be playing snooker for 3hrs while others toil . I may catch an hour or two kip between then and now. Maybe not
Property has given me that freedom to choose and I am grateful
The hard work is done

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