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Retiring In Comfort

A single mum is able to achieve financial freedom through property, writes Laine Moger.

By: Laine Moger

1 January 2023

Single mum, Tanya* was eight years away from retiring when she came to Opes Partners for investment advice. At that time she was 57, mortgage-free on her own property, working full time with 2 teenage boys living at home. But she worried about what her retirement would look like. Following her initial meeting with Andrew Nicol in 2013, Tanya purchased four properties that gave her a $79,000-a-year passive income for her retirement.

Here’s how she did it.


To create a property investment plan, you need to figure out: “How much money do you need to make your goal a reality?” With this figured out, you can decide how ambitious your plan needs to be.

But here’s the thing. Tanya didn’t have a specific passive income figure in her head…she just knew she wanted a comfortable retirement. For her that meant she wanted to:

• Have a passive income in retirement and not being dependent on government superannuation

• Have enough money to help her sons onto the property ladder.


In addition to her mortgage-free home, Tanya also had two investment properties:

• An Auckland standalone house bought in 2002, for $300,000

• A Hamilton standalone house bought in 2003 for $180,000.

You might look at these numbers and think “Ah, those were the days”. But don’t let these numbers fool you. At the time, these house prices were considered
relatively expensive.

And even though these properties had increased in value since she purchased them, in 2013 Tanya still wasn’t on track to have enough assets to live the retirement lifestyle she wanted. Had she done nothing else, she was on track for a passive income of $23,750 a year. This isn’t bad, but she felt that this level of income would still make her reliant on the government pension.


Tanya bought two more properties.

1 – A standalone property in Halswell, Christchurch.

This property was bought for $400,000 in 2013, which is about $500,000 cheaper than what you’d pay today. But at the time of purchase, it was a bit out of her comfort zone and it was only two years after the earthquake. For her it was a big decision.

2 – Four years later, Tanya bought a high-yielding apartment in Wellington for $525,000.

As well as these two properties, Tanya switched her two existing investments from a principal and interest mortgage to an interest-only mortgage. This was done to free up cash flow. So over those 15 years, Tanya had bought four investment properties. And spent $1.4 million, with all of the deposits borrowed against her own home. She hadn’t put in a cash deposit for any of them.


In 19 years, Tanya’s properties had increased in value by $2.1 million. But there was still work to be done turning this equity into a passive income. For starters, she had to sell the standalone (growth) properties, to clear mortgage debt.

But even after this, Tanya had a significant amount of cash left over. So, she used it to pay off the debt on her high-yielding dual key in Wellington, and then used the rest of the cash to buy another high-yielding apartment.

Because she then owned two properties with no mortgage, Tanya could then live off the rental income. As of last year, her two dual-key apartments earned $79,000 a year, after paying all the operating costs (e.g. rates, insurance, maintenance).


Tanya retired in 2021 at 65 years old. By the time she hit retirement her portfolio was worth $3.5 million. It means before Tanya gets out of bed in the morning, she has a passive income of $1500 a week coming in, without even factoring in superannuation.

This income has no end date, which means Tanya can live forever and always have these assets that produce an income. Tanya was also able to use the equity within her own homes to help guarantee part of the deposit for her son’s own property. One bought in Auckland, and the other in Foxton.


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