What Does Real Estate Investing Have to do with Death and Dying?

Although this is a re-post of a blog article I wrote about a year ago, I wanted to share it again as this week marks the 25th anniversary of my mother's death.  It's really quite unbelievable that it could possibly be 25 years that have come and gone.  I was a medical student at the time but fortunate to have been back home for the summer between my 1st and 2nd years.  Of course I knew at the time that it changed me, but undoubtedly had no idea it would have anything to do with my future real estate investing.  Thanks for letting me share:

For most people, the answer to that question is probably “nothing.” For me, however, there is a definite association.  The mother of someone very close to me passed away this week, reminding me again of this association as well as part of my “WHY” in real estate.

Having had both of my parents pass away at relatively young ages has had a couple of effects on me. As a physician, it has made me acutely aware of the struggles, emotions, and stages people often go through in dealing with a family member that has a debilitating or terminal illness.  As much as I would like to return this insight in exchange for having my parents still around, since this isn’t an option I have chosen to view this insight as a special tool I can utilize to connect with my patients or their family on a very personal level.  The second impact my parents’ early deaths have had on me is that it has given me a pronounced appreciation for the short span of time we are here on this earth.  This life is not a dress rehearsal.  I feel strongly that we should push ourselves to make the most of our time and talents while here.  For me, a big part of this is maximizing the amount of time I get to spend with my children, especially while they are young.  And that is what brings me back to real estate.

By investing in cash-flowing real estate, my goal has been to structure a situation where I can have more flexibility in my professional career in medicine to allow me to take more time to spend with my children than I otherwise could do if I established a personal financial model that relied solely on me trading my time/work for money in a one to one ratio. One of the biggest issues I see creating angst for busy parents is the inability to be there for all the moments in our children’s lives that we would like to but can’t because of the confines of our job.   This is particularly prevalent among physician families, as doctors are often expected to show up no matter what personal priorities are calling.  Unfortunately, this rigid structure (among other problems in medicine) has contributed to alarmingly high rates of burnout among physicians as well as physician suicide rates 1.4 (males) and 2.27 (females) times the general population.  These are terrible statistics.  Every person and family will have a different vision of what a proper work-life balance is and how to get there, but for me that is what I look to real estate investing to help me with.  By building a portfolio of properties that create passive income each month, I can feel more comfortable in knowing there is still consistent income being generated by those properties even if I want or need to take a few extra days off of work in any particular month.  Sure, I could put the pedal to the metal and work like crazy to have even more “earned income”, but I know I would regret not being around for my kids as much and hopefully one day they will look back and be thankful for my presence as well.

I’d love to hear what strategies you have utilized to find a good work-life balance. As always, I’m happy to discuss real estate investing in seeing how it could fit into your goals of seeking work-life balance, so feel free to reach out at info@physicianrei.com.

6 thoughts on “What Does Real Estate Investing Have to do with Death and Dying?

  1. Thought provoking article. A reminder of how deliberate our journey should be; stealing back our time and what time we have to give, making it count.

  2. Great post Dr Starnes! As a fellow MD I see daily the fragility of life as well, in my world its medical imaging I too see heartbreaking cases everyday– pediatric brain tumors, recurrent breast CA in women in their 20’s… catastrophic trauma… you name it we see it… that’s why when I have a ‘bad day’ its that ounce of perspective on how lucky each of us is to be (hopefully) healthy and happy and share that with our loved ones. Indeed, the ability to generate passive income to free up more time to spend with our loved ones is indeed the most precious goal I can think of.

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