Digital Nomad Land Investor

Hi everyone!

I’m a full-time land investor traveling the world.

I learned about land flipping back in 2017 from Seth’s infamous interview on Bigger Pockets, and kept it in the back of my mind until January of last year when I took his course. A few months later, I was fired from my high paying corporate job, which turned out to be a life defining moment. I had some money saved up, so I decided to put all of my effort into figuring out the land biz. I could always go back to work, right?

It was the hardest, most frustrating year of my life. It took me six months to sell my first property and I didn’t have an income for 15 months. I can’t count how many times I almost quit. But eventually I figured things out and now I’ve got a consistently profitable land business (though I still feel like it could fall apart at any moment.)

Becoming a digital nomad has been a dream of mine for about a decade, so in August, I hopped on a plane to Serbia. Now I’m bouncing around the globe, taking advantage the low cost of living, while plowing everything back into my land business.

I look forward to learning from everyone and hopefully have something to contribute to the community!

Thanks for sharing your story @billwalker! Wow, that would be VERY challenging to jump into land full-time, cold-turkey, with no other income to support you as you're getting off the ground. I don't think I would've done well with that. It sound like you must be managing pretty well, given where you're at.

When you say you still feel like it could fall apart at any moment - what makes you say that? Where do you think the big "holes" are and what would it take to make you feel more confident in the stability of your business?

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@billwalker, that's awesome! Like you said, you can always go back to working for somebody else, right? Hopefully you'll never have to.

I'm curious, is there anything unexpected that you've learned from a year as a digital nomad? And do you plan to stay on the move for the foreseeable future, or do you miss the consistency of staying mostly in one place?

Edited to add: Just thought of another question...How do you handle signing deeds or other documents that require a notarized wet signature while out of the country? I'm curious because I'm in the process of buying a parcel (in the US) from a buyer who lives in Germany, and it's kind of a hassle. Apparently we don't recognize other countries' notaries (which I guess makes sense), so my seller will have to go to a US Embassy or Consulate office. I think I read that if the seller was an American citizen (which mine isn't, but I'm assuming you are), then some states are starting to allow for online notary services via webstream. Are you finding that you're able to do that in all places you're investing, or have you found other solutions for this?

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What an amazing story, Bill! Good for you for sticking through what must have been some stressful and challenging times. And to be able to travel and geo-arbitrage like that to boot? Pretty awesome. Thanks for my dose of morning inspiration!

@retipsterseth Hi Seth! Thanks for your question: “When you say you still feel like it could fall apart at any moment - what makes you say that?” It’s such a great question! I’ve been dwelling on this for the last 2 days. There’s lots of holes in my business. 😉 But the thing that gives me the most anxiety is the fluctuation in profit. I have sales every month and turn a net profit, but my profit varies wildly. I’m doing all cash deals so I don’t have any consistent income coming in like if I had some notes. As an example of something that gives me anxiety, I closed on a big sale Friday, but I don’t have any other sales lined up for the month. Nothing in the next month either - no closings scheduled, not even any hot leads. I’m living deal to deal.

After dwelling on this over the weekend, I think it may boil down to one word:


My business has very little momentum right now. It feels like it could fall apart at any moment and it feels very difficult to keep it going. Like, if it were a flywheel, I haven’t got it spinning fast enough to keep it spinning. My business doesn’t have enough momentum to keep it going. I can’t let up on the gas, because if I do, it will stop. (Not that I want to let up on the gas because I want to put the pedal to the metal!) But it does give me some stress.

I don’t want this to come across as a negative response, because it’s not. I’m in Croatia right now living my dream. My business is providing me an income, my personal expenses are very low, and I have emergency cash reserves if I run into trouble.

But my business still feels like it hasn’t taken off. Does that make sense?

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Hi @dl7573

So, I’ve been doing the land business for about a year and a half, but I’ve only been traveling since August. I’ve got to come back to the US in November to take care of some banking things that I can’t handle remotely, but I plan to hit the road again after that. It’s cheaper living abroad than in the States. It gives my business more runway to take off since I don’t have to pay myself an American salary.

The first month I bounced around and did a lot of sightseeing. It was difficult to get anything done. I only worked about half time. The second month has been much more productive because I learned how to balance travel with work. I’ve got a blog post titled “One Month as a Digital Nomad”. (Check my bio for a link to the site.)

There’s a lot of logistical stuff I had to set up before leaving the country. Notarizing deeds, sending wires, and drawing cashier’s checks for self-closings are a few of the things that are nearly impossible to do from outside the US.

The biggest issue was how to get deeds notarized. The states I do deals in require a wet signature. I’ve heard from other land investors that you can go to a US embassy to get docs notarized. The problem is, from what I’ve researched, there’s only one embassy per country. Larger countries like France have multiple satellite consulate offices, but smaller countries don’t. I’m in Croatia, and the embassy is 4 hours away from where I’m at on the coast. It would limit my travel if I had to stick close to an embassy. I’ve also had a few title companies insist on sending the closing documents through the mail.

So, before I left, I set up a representative in the US to sign docs on my behalf. I gave a trusted family member signing rights to my company using a corporate resolution. When I close a sale, I have to coordinate with the title company and make sure they put her on any docs that need to be notarized. All they require is a copy of that corporate resolution to prove she has signing authority.

I also set her up on my bank account so she can wire money and get cashier’s checks. She’s basically my transaction admin and I pay her for the work she does. She can get deeds notarized, send wires, and she puts together the closing package for self-closings.

It’s worked out great so far.


@billwalker, that sounds like a great solution.

For signing deeds, I wonder if more states might start allowing online notaries, especially with coronavirus going on. I found out Florida does now, apparently, but it wasn't something my title company ever mentioned, after a few deals with them and people out of state/country; I just found out about it on my own, when trying to research the nearest Embassy or consular office that my seller could go to in Germany. It was limited to US citizens only, so wasn't an option in my particular case.

But it sounds like you've got a system that's working really well, and if you're able to do self-closings with the person you've granted signatory authority, I bet the cost you're paying her is probably offset to a large degree by the amount you're saving relative to using title companies for every deal.

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@billwalker - that makes total sense. Is there a reason you haven't pursuing the seller financing path more? There are some downsides to that approach too, but given the pain point you mentioned about of lacking momentum, it seems like a few seller financed deals might be appropriate right now.

@retipsterseth, Ha! Yeah, as I was writing that response, I wondered to myself, "why haven't I done any seller financing deals yet?" I think I was a little worried about tying up capital at first, but I'm in a position where I could get some SF deals to flatten out the income spikes.

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Hi Bill,

Welcome to the forum!

I also live outside the usa most of the time. I have set up family member with signing authority as well.

Lately I have been really focused on selling on terms and have began creating a portfolio of notes. Basically they are all on cheaper properties that I buy for under 3k. I try to set them up to get my capital back in 6 to 8 months, my average payment is around 200 a month and most are for 48 months.

There is a bit of work to set up, but I am enjoying the steady cash flow.

I do relate with you on the momentum issues with this business and having to actively work it!

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@billwalker I think it is all about residual income as others have said and volume.

@billwalker How much do you need for monthly nut of international living expenses vs. USA?

@suitedconnector I travel with my girlfriend which helps to bring my expenses down a bit, but my half of the monthly living expenses are about $1,800 USD. It’s a little over $20k per year, and I would spend quite a bit more when living in the States. That amount includes accommodations, food, and local travel like buses or renting cars. I use credit card points/miles when flying, so all of my airfare is free.

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@billwalker Thank you for sharing your story. Taking the first tenuous step into living your dream can be terrifying. That transition from a stable, dependable income to the wildly unpredictable entrepreneurial life is so hard that most will never do it. However, I believe your highest earning years and, more importantly, happiest times are still ahead of you. You are an inspiration and this entire community is cheering you on.

Hello all. I will start my digital nomad dream next year and am currently only a part-time land investor. I wonder if one suggestion is to always use a title company, thereby bypassing the requirement for you to notarize these documents. I also wonder if you could authorize a VA or a law firm (I use the LegalShield small business plan) to notarize documents for you?

@theivyleagueceo using a title company doesn’t mean notary signatures aren’t required. Things still need to be notarized, but the title company facilitates all of this, so it’s a lot of work off your shoulders.

As for having someone else sign on your behalf, I’m not 100% sure about this, but I think there might be a way to give limited power of attorney to someone else to sign certain documents on your behalf… however, the need for a notary signature might throw a wrench in that. You’d have to check with an attorney or title rep to be sure.

Thanks for the help, Seth. You’re awesome!