Recently I’ve become increasingly frustrated working at bike shops. The work is skilled labor that is seasonal (at least up north) and the pay is mediocre. On top of that sales at my store are down and my hours have been cut to compensate for other’s failures to sell bikes.This along with many other recent happenings have opened my eyes to working with my hands not on bikes but on houses.
When I was still living in Philly I wanted to emulate my landlord/roommate, Half Dreadlock, She had bought the house we lived in and had begun fixing it up, charging us rent that covered the fixing it up part and the mortgage. I figured I could work on houses in at least the same regard as she did and was excited to save up my money to buy a house.
Then my desire began to grow stronger. My landlord explained how he bought houses fixed them up and rented them. Explaining that at the very least I should buy a house and rent out part of it to cover my housing and utility expenses. This was already my goal but he expanded it when we had a longer conversation a second time. This time he asked me, “If you don’t mind me asking what do you see yourself doing with your life?” I replied, “I have no idea.” He through around a bunch of ideas from hydroponic farm to working for the city as a sanitation worker (apparently you can retire after 20 years work with a pension). But the idea that clicked the most in my head was becoming an electrician. The work is skilled labor with your hands, you get paid well and can make over 50k a year. And I’d be able to work for myself once I had enough experience.
Then I went back to Philly and was talking to my old roomies. Half Dreadlocks had just begun expanding her house buying and was about to buy one and looking at a second property. We were talking about work and my work desires in the future when she brought the guy she was buying a house from, “Crazy Dave.” He began working on houses when he was in school for a PhD in physics. He worked for his landlord for some extra money, then one of his landlord’s friends, then some more landlords. Shortly after that he dropped out of school and 15 years later he found himself with over a million dollars in assets, owning 12 properties in Philadelphia. He decided to sell all of them and move to Oregon to work on a sustainable farm.
I began to get excited, realizing this is what I wanted to do and told Half Dreadlock that I may start working for my landlord very soon. She urged me to continue working at an over the table job until I got a mortgage (apparently they are impossible to get one without such a job).
I tried to put the idea on the back burner saying I’d do it after I bought a house, but hours went down and I began working for my landlord. I haven’t done much work but it’s interesting work, very labor intensive. He is very eager for me to work for him more, hoping that I take charge of all his houses and the work being done on them. Essentially being his property manager. I’ve told him I’m just looking for part time work right now but assuming the pay is better than my current job I’m sure I’ll work for him more. What is very cool is that he really wants me to learn a lot, including showing me a house that he wanted me to do the plumbing and electrical work on. I think he recognizes my youthfulness and drive to do good hard work for little money. Meanwhile I recognize his ability to teach me everything I would need to know about working on houses.
It’s all very exciting, I have a current goal of working for my landlord part time, eventually moving to full time. I also plan on buying a decrepit house fairly soon and fixing it up. After I gain my experience I plan on doing freelance work, and being the cheapest of cheap assholes so I can retire early and start doing what I want. Which, the more I’ve been thinking about, is probably teaching kids how to work on stuff. So I feel like working on stuff my whole life will be great experience for that.