The unassuming millionaire next door

The unassuming millionaire next door

I get to meet people who inspire me every day.

You get to find the most inspiring real estate investors in most unusual places.

One such character is Peter. I met Peter a few years back in a once sleepy up country town that hugs the slopes of Mount Kenya. I first met him as he served customers behind his kiosk one sunny afternoon. His brother was the one who brought us together. Peter was an unassuming fellow, a person you would pass by in the streets and think nothing of him. He also had that face that you would easily forget.

After serving his customer he came outside to meet us. His brother was coming to pick up some potatoes that Peter had harvested from his shamba . Peter, dolled out in gum boots, walked over to his beat up boda boda and unloaded a sack of potatoes and dumped it in my boot. We then left .

About a year later, I met Peter again. This time I was directed to his home in the outskirts of the sleepy town. A few meters from the main road we drove into a compound of 5 small bungalows. As we waited outside, Peter and his wife emerged from one for the houses. His wife, dressed to the nines, bade us farewell and left the three of us standing conversating outside in the compound. The contrast between Peter and his wife was as day and night. He was still in this drab clothing of a old looking shirt, well worn trousers with traces of mud and gum boots. James, his brother, was coming for potatoes…..again. As Peter rushed back into his house to fetch the sack of potatoes, James mentioned that this property belonged to his brother. “Ati Nini?!!!!??”, my shock betrayed me. Seeing my shock, James laughed. He explained that his brother built and owned all 5 one bedroom bungalows. He rented out 4 and lived in the 5th with his family. As I stood there I did some quick maff (mathematics). Knowing the area means he was collecting at least kes (Kenya Shillings) 24,000 in rent per month almost kes 300,000 per annum. “Not bad!” I thought to myself considering that was all passive income.

The sound of dragging brought me back to my senses as Peter emerged from his house dragging a sack that I presumed had the potatoes. Being curious, and also very naughty, I took a peak inside his house as he labored towards my car. The decor and furniture were simple and the place looked comfortable to live in. After reconnaissance I rushed back to help Peter and James load the sack into my car. Dusting off our hands after the loading, James asked if he could get some sukuma-wiki to which Peter obliged. He gestured to us to follow him to the back to his house where we found his garden with a range of vegetables. As Peter was busy harvesting some vegetables, I was pleasantly surprised to see his land was more extensive and there was a structure next to the road.

The structure, I got to learn later, was a lodging and a bar. They all belong to Peter! To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was also very impressed especially with how it was easy to judge him by his looks. From doing some quick mazematics his average monthly rent collection could be about kes 35,000 per month. From my rough valuation, the property could be worth kes 4,000,000 (35,000 per month x 120 months). That is impressive with what I would consider a much cheaper cost of living in a rural area.

As we left with James I pondered on what I could learn from Peter:

  1. Do not judge people by their looks and what they drive. This is a problem we have in urban areas like Nairobi where your worth is measured on how you dress and what you drive.
  2. Do your thing. Peter does his thing at his own pace at his own time. He does not take direction from anyone.
  3. Living a simple life allows you to have more cash-flow to invest.
  4. Do not settle. Continue building one step at a time.

Update: I visited Peter recently and found that he had moved! He had bought a plot nearby and built his two bedroom house. Now he rents out his former house and has his own place to himself. Amazing!

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