For the past 9 years I've been playing professional hockey around the world. So how does a Canadian kid crazy about hockey end up in Hawaii of all places? Well, there's the the obvious answers of beaches, weather, surfing, palm trees, and adventure... but the driving force above and beyond all this for me being here is simple: Real Estate!
Hockey has been the center spoke of my life for as long as I can remember. From walking around the house in skates and an oversized helmet on Christmas morning as a 3 year old, to heading out of the house for a late afternoon practice on Christmas day as a 30 year old, it's always been there. My memories are usually recalled by what team I was on during any given year, and my years have not been divided into typical seasons of spring, summer, fall, winter, but rather the hockey season and the off-season.
Sounds simple... right? Well, it was at first, but as my life evolved and I grew into a man, and turned professional, and got married, and had a child, things seemed to get more complicated. The off-seasons weren't as easy as going back to my home town to hang out with buddies and train until the next season started. My wife is from the East coast of the US while I'm from the West coast of Canada. For years, we would end the hockey season and drift from family to family, living out of suitcases for months at a time. We didn't have a house of our own to call home, and why would we? We were only there for 4 months of the year before we were swept off to another city or another country for the next hockey season. It just didn't make sense financially.
But everything changed the year we decided to spend our off season in Hawaii...
Instead of crashing in the spare bedroom of our parents' place, we decided to have an extended honey moon in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was a summer for the ages! Body boarding, snorkling, scuba diving, bike riding, and beaches everywhere. We explored as many adventures as we could on the Big Island... and we fell in love with the place.
Oh yeah... and my wife got pregnant while we were there. It almost seemed as though this magical place was part of our destiny. If only we could find a way to continue to have it in our lives...
Although it didn't dawn on us right away, the answer was right there. Real Estate!
We were starting a family now so we needed to figure out our living situation anyway. Crashing with the in-laws during the off-saeson was no longer an option, but we were still faced with the financial obstacle of carrying a mortgage for 12 months of the year while only living there for 4 months of the year.
And then it hit us... Hawaii!!!
Where else could we buy a place that people would want to rent during the cold months of the winter? Not only that, but they'll actually pay a premium to go there in the winter. And when all is said and done, we get to live there whenever we want.
But Hawaii must be crazy expensive right? Can we really afford to buy a place there?
While there are many beautiful mansions and estates to choose from among the islands, not everyone who lives here is a millionaire. In fact, there is a beautiful population of ordinary blue collar folks who choose to call Hawaii home.
In the end, we took the plunge, and purchased a 3b/3b 1100 sq ft home for a little over $330,000. We saved for 2 years so that we could make a down payment and moved our life out into the Pacific Ocean.
The first year we were away, we had some growing pains as far as managing the rental of the property. It wasn't living up to its potential. Regardless, our off-season was amazing. We weren't bouncing from place to place anymore. Instead, everyone was coming to visit us. And I mean Everyone!
Then, we made a few adjustments on how we were going to rent the place out when we were away and BOOM! The house rented like crazy. It was awesome, it was profitable, it was fulfilling, it was... time to retire... from hockey anyway.
It's such a shame that I only found this situation near the end of my career. I can't help but think about how much more money I could've saved/earned over the years if only I made a wise investment at the beginning of my career. Maybe I could own a handful of income producing properties by now that could sustain me and my family for the rest of our days. In a way, that's what I always wanted... to be able to set myself up to not ever have to work a "normal" job when my playing days were over.
It's been a daunting thought for years now as my body ages and the clock ticks away on my earning years as a pro athlete. What am I going to do afterwards? Will I ever have a passion for a career outside of hockey?
While I don't think anything will ever compare to the thrill of lacing up the skates and performing in front of thousands of screaming fans, I have at least found something else I can be passionate about: Real Estate. I love talking about it, I love hunting for properties, and I love all those stupid shows on HGTV and the DIY network. And, most of all, I love the situation I discovered here in Hawaii, so I decided to get my real estate license and and share my experience with as many people as I can. I want people to invest in themselves and their dreams and I want to help them do it. I truly believe in the value of Real Estate, and buying my home in Hawaii was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
If you are curious or intrigued on how you could attain your dream of owning property in Hawaii, I'd love to hear from you. I'm here on the Big Island soaking in the sun and beginning my new career as a real estate agent and would love to help people find the home of their dreams, or the investment property of their dreams.
Mahalo for reading!
All the best,
Mike Ouellette (RS)