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I’m pretty sure the first thought that came to your mind when reading that title was that I must have sold (or are selling) a lot of stuff on Ebay.
You would be wrong with this line of thinking.
In fact it was not selling at all but buying (my largest purchase ever in actuality) a listing on Ebay that I credit jumpstarted my path to financial independence, though I did not know it at the time.
Curious what on earth on Ebay it could have possibly been?
Well first a little background.
I was very fortunate growing up that the majority of my childhood was spent living in a beautiful lake house in Louisiana where my dad practiced medicine.
I absolutely loved having a water feature in our backyard.
I would come home from school and either jump into my canoe and go fishing, or cruise the lake on my own 14 foot bateau (a flat bottom boat) with a 9.8 horsepower Mercury outboard.
We even had a family boat that we would take out to go wake-boarding.
Water was definitely an integral part of my childhood.
Fast forward 30 years and I found myself suffering blizzard like conditions in northern Ohio.
I bought a house (one of my financial mistakes) in residency that was located 2 blocks away from Lake Erie and was “rewarded” by this choice with lake effect snow.
I would shovel 2+ feet of snow from the driveway one day only to have it re-covered the next.
I happened to be on call as an Interventional Radiologist and had to drive in through brutal conditions and something in my mind just clicked….
Why am I here?
As my now ex-wife had just got expelled from the Radiology residency program that I got her in (they accepted her on condition that I would stay on as faculty during her residency training), I was no longer bound to stay.
So between on-call cases I came to the conclusion that I needed to find a medical practice below the snow belt and began random internet searches.
I had no particular geographic ties to any region so the possibilities were endless.
Recalling fond memories of my childhood, I knew that I wanted a forever home that had some sort of natural body of water tied to it.
I forgot the actual google search term I used but I know it contained waterfront property in it.
And then a few months later there it was…
A listing that popped up on Ebay that essentially changed the course of my history.
I was stunned.
I never even thought it was possible to actually own a waterfall, much less find it on Ebay of all places.
To say I was intrigued was an understatement.
It was mid-week when I discovered the listing and on a lark I decided to book a flight down to view the property in person that very weekend.
I figured that this listing on Ebay was an over-exaggeration and surely a natural waterfall could never be on private property.
Even though the Ebay listing had 38 more pages of pictures of the property, it did nothing to decrease my astonishment when I saw it in person.
I felt like Alice in Wonderland (and to pay homage to this reference, I later named my property “Looking Glass Estate”).
I went down to the base of the main waterfall and just took in its natural beauty.
It was breathtaking and in that instance I knew I had to do everything to make this property mine.
Knowing I was heading back up to Ohio the very next day, I gave the seller an initial offer that night and, after a counteroffer, entered into contract, which still ended up being $79,000 below the listing price.
I took a leap of faith.
I essentially committed to buying this property without a clue of where I was going to work or even if there was a suitable place to work nearby.
I knew nothing of the area except that it met my criteria of having a natural body of water in my backyard and it was considered below the snowbelt.
Sometimes when you take a leap of faith, you fall tragically (much like the leap of faith I took in agreeing to an arranged marriage).
This time, however, my leap of faith was rewarded many times over due to beneficial financial implications I had no clue at the time (it is often better to be lucky than good).
I essentially was using the advantage of geoarbitrage to accelerate my path to financial freedom before I even knew about the terminology:
- I went from a state with not only state income tax but also 2 separate city income taxes (I worked in Cleveland and had to pay Cleveland income tax and lived in an outlying city and had to pay a separate income tax for that city as well) to a state with no income tax at all
- This has translated to over a $60k/yr savings in taxes alone based on my salary over the last several years
- There was additional considerable savings due to lower property taxes
- I was also getting significantly more land/home for the money (the amount I spent on this property would have only bought me a mid-level home with a small backyard in Cleveland)
- I now live in a low cost of living (LCOL) area
- Physician salaries across all specialties are also much higher in this region of the US compared to HCOL areas such as California.
I do have to pay higher sales tax than before, however just to make up the difference in state income tax savings alone, I would have to buy over $4 million in goods/year (FYI, I don’t).
In terms of taking a leap of faith of buying a home before getting a job (completely the opposite way most people (rightfully) do), I also got incredibly lucky.
In 2005 Radiologists were in incredibly high demand.
After I bought the property I posted my interest in the area and was contacted by several facilities/recruiters.
I ended up interviewing at 5 different places and was offered a spot at all of them.
I ended up picking the one that I felt gave me the best lifestyle
- 60+ multispecialty outpatient physician group
- Clinical duties for me were Mon-Fri 8:30-5pm, no weekends, no call (a rarity in the medical profession)
I had some better financial offers from other practices, however, because they would require call/weekend shifts, I went with the one that was most conducive to maintaining a good work-life balance..
Looking back, I am thrilled even at that time (age 35) I started realizing the importance of prioritizing time over money.
When I first laid eyes on that fateful Ebay listing, there was approximately 2,400 views. By the time escrow closed that number ballooned up to 30,000.
I was informed by the previous owners that after I entered contract they later got multiple offers, all higher than mine.
In fact the agent involved in the original transaction said that another party was so interested in buying the property that they would pay me $100k so that I would get out of the contract.
It was a lot of money to say the least, but I was not tempted at all by it because I knew that this type of property rarely comes up for sale and I would likely never be able to find something that moved (and still moves) me the way this property did.
This property has also allowed me to achieve local mini-celebrity status. In 2008 my family and I were featured on an HGTV show (What You Get For The Money), we have been in many newspaper articles, and even in a book.
Through the 12 years I have since owned this property I have made multiple improvements (multi-level composite decking, landscape lighting system, concrete driveway, geothermal system, major landscaping, etc.) to finally get it to the state it is currently in (essentially doubling the purchase price).
It is my own personal Shangri-La and another great way to decompress when I get off of work.
And it all started with an Ebay listing and a leap of faith.
Superpower Take Home Points:
- Sometimes it is okay to go chasing waterfalls
- You can sometimes be richly rewarded in ways you never thought of when taking a leap of faith.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN
Xrayvsn, that is absolutely awesome man. I love the story and the end result. That looks like a palace of serenity.
Really happy it worked out for you after how the other leap of faith turned out.
It’s amazing what happens when we stop and think about what actually makes us happy and then wait for it.
Thank you so much TPP. The stars definitely aligned in my favor on this one. Hope the move to your new home went smoothly and you are likewise enjoying your new digs
I’m interested in what State you relocated to. You mentioned you moved from Ohio. I am living in Los Angeles now, but dreaming of someday owning a home in a quieter more peaceful place close to the ocean.
I’m sort of being a little vague (sorry for that) but it is in the Southeast US. Absolutely love it here (I used to live in Sherman Oaks CA during high school) and prefer this part of the country.
I grew up in the SF Bay Area but have lived in Oregon for the past 28 years. I love it! The Oregon coast is the most beautiful part of the West Coast, in my opinion, and there are many peaceful, quaint towns along the coast. Check it out! A driving trip along the coast from LA to Portland would be really fun!
It is funny you mentioned Oregon. I actually had considered moving to the pacific northwest at one point and Oregon was at the top of my list.
I think the ebay listing intervened and made the decision for me. Happy where I ended up as it too is very scenic. Good food and nice weather (for the majority of the year) made it a slam dunk for me. Have a great day
How awesome! My wife and I have been on a trek to visit every one of Arkansas 133 waterfalls and have only 5 or 6 left. Most of these are pretty dangerous to get to due to cliffs but we intend to get them this year. They aren’t on trails, it is a bushwhacking affair with lots of thorns and minor slips. Your falls are beautiful!
Thank you so much. Yeah there are beautiful waterfalls all over the US and I have done a few trips to visit some within a 2-3 hour location. Never get tired of seeing them.
I am fortunate that my waterfalls are super easy to get to (built multiple decks, boulder steps, etc and the top of the falls can be viewed from inside the house. A few around here do require some dexterity and endurance to get to.
First off, winters build character! or so I have to keep telling myself.
Secondly, WOW that looks awesome. It is like how could you have a bad day when you get home, just let the falls sing you to serenity.
I think I had enough character building 🙂 Spent 7 years in Ohio which I think is like 28 in dog years (get it, Dawg pound?) LOL.
I agree that it is a wonderful place to decompress, plus the 35-40 min drive home to do 37 miles is not bad and also lets me decompress. Thanks for the comment 🙂
How funny! We both bought our houses on a leap of faith and it’s worked out.
Mine is a 5-minute walk to the beach, which is great – but your waterfall is something special.
🙂 Thanks Frogdancer Jones. Yeah, I really lucked into this property. The fact that it also utilizes geographic arbitrage is icing on the cake.
Just add a soap dish and a towel rack! Great article
Thanks Gasem. I think the water is a bit too cold for my taste. Even in summer I think it is 50-60 degrees (it gets part supply from a creek feeding it as well as what I assume is a huge underground reservoir (I have well water and geothermal make use of it). I have had a few people swim in it. Waders for me 🙂
“How would you like to never shovel snow again? The only catch is you have to pay less tax, own a private waterfall and never work another night or weekend for the rest of your life.”
Sold! eBay, here I come!
There was a time I was a huge ebay junky. House by far was the best thing I found there but also got some beautiful heavy wooden temple doors from Thailand with intricate carvings on ebay
Beautiful home. Looks like a piece of heaven.
Thank you MD. I definitely feel the same about it
I too grew up on a lake and it was big part of my childhood. The lake was stuffed with large mouth bass and I grew up on a canoe.
My lake is the header picture of my site. When I think of FI, I think of that lake.
I love where I grew up and hope that the home I grew up in and the lake I still fish on will always be part of my life.
Before I know it Baby Kpeds will be holding a pole!
There really is something about lake life. That is cool fact that the pic for your website is the actual lake you grew up on.
Baby Kpeds looks to have an awesome time ahead
WOW XRV. Beautiful place. Didn’t know you could find a place like that on Ebay. Your story reminds me of my parent’s story. My father was a professor at the University of California and then one day he accepted a position with the University of Tennessee. They always tell me that was one of the best things they did for their finances and serenity. Congrats!
Thanks VP. Glad your folks were able to take advantage of geographic arbitrage as well. There are definitely a lot of beautiful places in the US that are LCOL. As physicians states with no income tax really give you a large financial head start due because of the income levels we are dealing with
This was a great post! I love the land that you purchased it is absolutely beautiful. Great choices that would most likely be viewed as risky by many others. You must be so proud of the risks that you took, that became such excellent choices. Loved all of the photos!
Thanks Andrea. It was definitely a find of a lifetime to me and worked out great. You need to see it in person as everyone who has says the pictures do no justice
How completely MAGICAL to have your own waterfall. I so enjoyed getting a peek into your “offline” world — thanks for sharing!
Thanks MFM. Yeah I can’t believe it either. Does make it tough to leave for work though
I’m a pretty serious eBay seller and didn’t even know you could sell property! How do they handle the purchasing process with something as expensive as that?
Looks like you’ve got your own little paradise there. I’d like to have a nice bit of land when we move out of our subdivision. I grew up on 7 acres and it’s nice to have a big enough yard that you can get some quality outdoor time without being watched by neighbors.
I appreciate the comment MD. Actually I believe eBay has a division for where you can list real estate properties. It is not under auctions. I’m not sure what the charge is but I assume it is like advertising in a real estate magazine but pricier. The transaction for the home sale was just like a regular real estate deal.
I too love the larger land plots that give you a lot of privacy. I’m fortunate that even though it is private we are probably less than 1000 ft to our next neighbor.
Beautiful! I LOVE this story! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the compliment. It definitely floors people when they see the property in person and eventually ask how I found such a place. Thanks for stopping by
What an amazing place to live! It looks like one of the state parks in the state I live in. Looks very peaceful and relaxing.
Thank you so much. Yeah it was completely sheer luck I stumbled onto this property and fell in love with it immediately.
At this very moment I am writing a post about another event courtesy of the waterfalls. Not sure when it will come out as I already have posts scheduled to mid April. But should be soon after.
Wow, that’s amazing! It’s serendipity when luck meets preparation.
I want to move south when I get older too. Portland isn’t too cold, but it’s getting harder every year. Can I drop by when we’re in that part of the country? 🙂 The tax info is a big giveaway.
Would love to have you as a neighbor Joe! It is absolutely amazing where I live. Low Cost of living and no state income tax is like hitting the lottery.
Let me know if you are ever in the area. Would love to meet up
I love so many things about this story! Beautiful home, leap of faith, eBay shopping, happy ending!
Thank you so much for the kind words! Yes I really lucked out with this particular ebay purchase. It sent into motion a chain of events that has allowed me to reap so many financial rewards. Have a great day and thanks again for stopping by and commenting
What a paradise!! And what a story!! 🙂
Thanks so much. Yes I am incredibly blessed to have found this place and get to come home to it on a daily basis (and I think people with have their jaws drop if they knew how cheap this is compared to most homes in hcol areas).
Appreciate you dropping by and commenting (might be one of the most famous of commenters to date. Lol ).
[…] on a fateful ebay purchaseThis is such a cool story! The author of this article bought something on ebay that many people […]