How Rich Carey bought 20 houses in cash, while in the military!

An Interview with Rich Carey of

Rich Carey

 Introduction – Rich Cary | Richonmoney

Rich Carey has been an Active duty Officer in the United States Air Force for the last 18 years. During this time he has paid off a $280k mortgage in 6 years, flipped houses, and purchased 20 rental properties with cash!

Through his diligence, Rich has ensured financial independence for him and his family, long after he retires from the military!

Rich was recently featured on the Bigger Pockets Podcast (show 268)

Follow Rich Carey on his blog Rich on Money

Questions and Answers

1. What motivated you to take action, and invest in real estate?

Answer: I always wanted to invest in real estate since I was a kid.  I knew it was the best way to build wealth.  My first assignment was Guam, and I knew it wasn't the right place.  Too many earthquakes and typhoons.  One of the typhoons actually destroyed my entire home so I'm glad I didn't buy.  When I finally got to D.C., I bought a townhouse right away, and that was the beginning of my real estate life. 

2. If an E-1/E-2 walked up to ask for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

Answer: Take care of your finances first.  Get out of debt, max out retirement accounts, find a way to make more money and save more money, live frugally, and save up a down payment.  Don't go for all this no money down crap.  It's going to land you in trouble.  Don't buy a house at every assignment.  You only buy houses when they will cash flow well as rentals.

3. What is one thing you wish the military had taught you about real estate investing/finances early in your career? 

Answer: Interesting question.  I don't think the military is an organization that we should expect would or could teach us about real estate.  I think the military needs to emphasize the basics of saving for retirement, investing, and avoiding debt a lot more.  Things on the base such as the new car sales (bad idea), emphasis on getting military star card for discounts, and slot machines among other things really send the wrong message and get people in trouble with finances early in their career. 

4. What makes the Rich Carey method of investing in real estate unique, and/or successful?

Answer: It's investing in real estate in a conservative manner.  It's not taking advantage of the many opportunities for no money down to buy a house.  Just because VA loans make it possible doesn't mean you should do it.  

I paid cash for all 20 of my houses.  Sounds crazy, but I did it on an officer's salary, without help from my wife or anyone else.  

Enlisted make less, but you can find extra jobs and spouses can work.  Also, I'm not saying you have to pay cash for your houses.  I'm fine with 20% down 30-year fixed-rate mortgage as long as the house is cash flowing well.  You don't buy a second property until you have another 20% down-payment saved up and you make sure the equity and cash flow in your first house still look good.  I think it's a good idea to plan to pay off the properties for retirement.  Not mandatory, but makes for amazing stability and peace of mind in retirement. 

To fully understand my approach to real estate, see The Complete Guide to Real Estate Investing

5. What is one resource (book, course, website, etc.) that you would recommend to anybody getting started in real estate investing?

Answer: There are some big real estate website and podcasts that will teach you lots of different ways to do real estate. I like them for the knowledge, but they can confuse new investors because they glamorize maxing out loan opportunities, maxing borrowing on equity, and using hard money and creative financing to grow as fast as possible.  It's a way to get rich quick, but disaster is also a possibility.  

I like and (Paula Pant) as smart approaches to real estate (and life).  Coach has a great video course that I would recommend.


Rich Carey is a shining example of what it looks like to become financially independent while on active duty status in the military! Too often we get roped into the pitfalls of getting rich quick schemes, but this interview proves that with patience and conservative investing it is possible to retire early and retire forever!

Takeaways – Richonmoney

#1: Get out of debt, while setting money aside for investing!

#2: You only buy houses when they will cash flow well as rentals!

#3: Don't fall prey to the “get rich quick” mentality!

Thank you Rich for taking the time out of your busy schedule, and we look forward to seeing what the future has in store for you!

What is holding you back from becoming financially free?

Real Estate Investors!

(L to R) Rich Carey, David Greene, David Pere (me), Brandon Turner, and Sofiaan Fraval

This is our first (of many) interviews with a service member that has had success with real estate investing. Subscribe to our newsletter below in order to stay updated on the most recent interviews, blog posts, and projects!

So go ahead, give yourself permission to build wealth while in the military!

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