Investing locally can not only put you on the path to financial freedom, but it can help bring joy and meaning to your life. Some of my investments have helped employ people in my town, offered safety and affordability of housing for local families, and created meaningful bonds with people I otherwise would have never met.
If this kind of investing sounds great to you, then keep reading. The world (and the humans you live near) needs more people like you.
Just remember that the most important part of investing locally isn’t reading articles like this one, it’s stepping out into that place of discomfort. It’s doing the thing you’ve never done before. It’s putting your money where your mind is and bringing to life the vision you have for yourself and your home.
So let’s make it happen.
Find People Doing What You Want To Do
The most productive thing you can do when you’re looking to get into any kind of investing is to make friends with someone who already does it. And the second most productive thing you can do is make friends with some else who wants to do it.
This sounds easy, but it’s not. Especially if you want to do something that requires quite a bit of money.
My primary form of investment right now is real estate, and it’s not terribly difficult to find people who want to invest in real estate. The problem is most of them aren’t actually mentally ready to invest for real.
It’s honestly not that difficult to find people already doing it either, but what is difficult is creating a relationship with them that benefits both parties.
Find a way to give them value
The people you most want to partner with will be busy. They have too much work for the amount of time in the day. Your best hope to creating a relationship with them is to help ease their load.
I can tell you if someone offered to do Airbnb cleans for me in exchange for some lunch meetings and an email correspondence, I would probably accept.
If you can spend say a year trading work for knowledge and advice, you can really get ahead. In my experience, people looking to make big investment moves are slow to act. They are scared of everything they don’t know and are worried they’ll make a mistake and lose money.
First of all, you will at some point make a mistake and lose money. Second of all, if you have someone who’s been there before to give a thumbs up on your first deal, you’ll probably act with much more confidence, which will get that super important first deal done quicker.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have any sort of a mentor, so it’s not a requisite for success. But there have been a lot of decisions Kate and I have had to make that would have been much easier with an experienced investor to ask for help. And that expert knowledge and expert connections can be even more powerful in a local market.
1. Provide Housing By Investing In Local Real Estate
Enough about networking, let’s talk about action. This is how I’ve invested in my community, but honestly that wasn’t my initial intent. I just knew that real estate was an investment with very high potential returns.
Before I get into the how to, I want to quickly share how investing in real estate actually gave some meaning to my investing.
Providing clean, safe and affordable housing to families in my community
When Kate and I bought our first investment property, we bought it because it was an undervalued property that needed some work and we were pretty sure we could make some money renting it out.
So we bought it, put a few months into making it a clean, and making all three units very nice. Nice enough, in fact, that I could have seen myself living there.
So of course we put up some ads to get the place rented and I saw at least a dozen groups before anyone even filled out a rental application. I spent a lot of time out at that property and I met the neighbors and became friendly with them. I even started paying one of them to mow the lawn.
And after I think 6 or 7 months of the property being vacant we finally got our first tenant to move in. I did my best to ensure they (and the two other tenants that followed) had clean, safe and affordable housing.
And as time has gone by I’ve begun to take pride in the fact that I’m providing these families in my community with an important service. Everyone deserves to feel safe and proud of their residence, and I get to be a part of that for my community.
How to get started
Providing a full “get started” guide is beyond the scope of this article. I haven’t written one for long term rentals yet, but the article on our Airbnb investment strategy covers a lot of the basics for any real estate deal.
Here are the steps I would take if I were starting over again:
- Look up property values in your city and begin saving for a 25-30% down payment.
- While you’re saving, read The Book on Rental Property Investing and see if you can find an investor who would be willing to vet your first deal.
- After reading, begin looking for properties on Zillow, and practice your due diligence process (decide what price you could offer on various homes)
- Before viewing properties, you’ll also want to find a lender. Call up some local banks, tell them your plan, and ask to meet with a loan officer. Get pre-approval for a loan from at least one lender.
- When you’re close to having your money saved, find a realtor and start visiting the properties you’re interested in potentially purchasing.
- If you like what you see, hit the due diligence hard and try to make an offer within 3 days.
- Don’t be influenced by the asking price of the property, only offer what you consider to be a profitable price
- Once you have an offer accepted, you’ll have no choice but to figure out the rest!
- Start prepping the property for rental, get some rental paperwork, create some ads and begin showing the property.
- Sign your first lease and do your best to provide a great service to the family that moves in!
I’ve found that for me, the most important part of investing was to act. Don’t be afraid of failure or losing money. Be very conservative during your due diligence process so you have room for error, but make offers on houses and make yourself do the things that feel uncomfortable.
2. Become A Local Angel Investor
This is really only an option if you’re already quite wealthy, but the benefit to your community could be huge. I’m not an angel investor. I’m not wealthy enough. If you want to read about angel investing from someone who actually did it, read this awesome article written by Tucker Max.
An angel investor uses his or her own money to help young businesses take the next step. Think Shark Tank.
There are people in your city, even today, that are trying to bring some value to the community. Often, the missing ingredient is some extra money up front or some connection in the industry.
From what I understand, angel investors have very high standards for return on investment. They run the risk of losing their entire cash investment and as such must demand large stakes in the companies they support. This makes angel investing an expensive funding option for new companies relative to traditional money acquisition methods like bank loans.
If you have the money, and you can balance the killer instinct needed with a true desire to bring value to your community, this could be your ticket.
3. Start Or Purchase A Local Business
What better way to invest locally than to create a business that can bring something to it’s citizens that make their lives better?
A few years ago my town had a new brewery open right next to my work. They had an outdoor area with games and sometimes at the end of the day I would walk over their with some coworkers and we would bond like we never could at work.
We have a local cinema that runs events and brings amazing movies to the town that none of the big theaters run. A restaurant that serve dishes composed only of food provided by farmers within a 30 mile radius of my city.
Truth be told, many of the businesses I frequent are owned by people who live in town. Even just running a business where people can come together to enjoy life (while employing others as well) is a benefit to the residents of your city.
But starting a business is hard and fraught with opportunities for failure.
There are already great profitable and local businesses, and some of their owners are ready to move on. Maybe they’re retiring or maybe they just need a change of scenery.
If you can keep a valuable business up and running while turning a profit, I’d say that’s a win-win situation.
Buying businesses can be quite profitable, and they can offer a group of like minded people a place to connect.
If I were in the market to buy a business, I think I’d start with my favorite local businesses. I’d like to think I could get in touch with the owner just by walking in and asking for some help. If they’re not selling, they might know someone who is. And if they ever decide to sell, you can make sure you’re on their list of buyers.
4. Become A Local Lender
Lending is quite different from angel investing. With angel investing the repayment of the money is through your partial ownership in the company you’re supporting. As a lender your return is dependent on the terms of the loan and the ability of the other party to repay. Not to mention you can loan money to individuals as well as businesses.
If you’ve ever tried to get a loan outside of a bank, you know that private loan terms are often in the range of 10-12%. The lender stands to do quite well with those kinds of terms.
As a lender, the most important part of the process will be the due diligence/vetting process. You’ll want to ensure your money will be repaid.
Similarly to angel investing, lending is a way to give opportunities to business and entrepreneurs that can create value in your communities.
5. Start An Investing Club Or Mastermind Group
I spoken a few times on Unbound Investor about the mastermind group that Kate and I put together. We gathered friends and family and anyone we felt was serious about building wealth.
I am a firm believer in the whole “teach a man to fish and you feed him for life” mentality. Not to say I’m teaching anyone to fish. We’re all sharing the knowledge we’ve gained through years of investing and personal finance and helping cultivate growth mindsets in each other.
I also believe that investing in your personal development is equal in importance to investing your money. By meeting regularly and sharing knowledge, I think we’ve all grown and become better investors.
And guess what? Nobody has to be an expert. Life is more about stepping forward than it is about figuring out what your foot will land on. Just start walking and share everything you learn along the way. Having a support group will make everyone more likely to achieve financial success they never thought possible.
For me, investing locally is as much about bringing value to the people I live next to as it is about making myself some money. Don’t get me wrong, I invest to make money, but some of my investments that make me feel as though I have purpose are those planted closest to home.
I’ve already benefited (and hopefully so has my community) from providing clean, safe and affordable housing to local families and meeting with friends and family in a mastermind group. I hope my next new local investment is to create or purchase a great business providing value to the residents of my city.
Best of luck in creating a better home.
Happy (local) investing.