It Doesn't Hurt to
Interview with Kim Hurt
Billy and Akaisha
The journey towards
retirement is unique for everyone. Since we all have a different approach, we thought Kim Hurt’s account of leaving the working world and
entering retirement would be informative to those of you who will be facing
that challenge soon yourselves.
Kim purchased our book, The
Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, then visited us while
we were living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. After many personal discussions
about himself - both his past and what shifts he's made towards achieving retirement - we
thought his story was intriguing and worth sharing to our readers.
At the age of 11,
Kim's Mother passed away. Then, the youngest of four children at 14 years
old, his Father became ill. At that point he was the last child living at
home and became the primary caregiver to his Father until he died a short
two years later. He credits his Father for giving him a moral compass and in
guiding him to strengthen his character, especially during the time his
peers were being tempted by drugs and a salacious lifestyle. He earned
scholarships in order to attend college and since he was on his own early in
life, he learned the value of being both self reliant and having
Kim, thanks for taking the time to
answer a few of our questions about your newest adventure, retiring early.
Kim shopping for a
shirt that proudly honors the King of Thailand
Could you tell us how old you are, and
how far along you are in your transition to full retirement?
I turned 57 in late 2007. My quest to position myself to be able to stop working and take up
my passion for travel began in earnest about two years ago in 2005.
If you define “full retirement” as
meaning that you can pick up and leave at any time, be gone for an
indefinite period and have no work responsibilities, I would say I am about
I have a pretty conservative nature
and rather than just chucking my career and jumping into retirement, I
decided to phase myself into it. In February of 2007 I began
planning a two month adventure. Southeast Asia was my destination of choice
which was inspired by your book, The Adventure’s Guide To Early
Retirement. Thank you.
humbling that you would credit us for inspiring you, Kim.
Thank you! Could you tell our readers a little
about your business background?
After graduating from Northern Arizona
University in 1972, I was recruited into a management training program with
a company named Trus-Joist Manufacturing in Phoenix, Arizona. They
transferred me to Santa Rosa, CA in November of 1972. Trus-Joist is in the
construction supply business. Due to a severe recession in the commercial
construction industry in 1975, they closed the Santa Rosa facility. I was the
assistant manufacturing plant manager at the time they closed.
I did not want to move
from the Santa Rosa area so in 1975 I got my real estate license and began
my new career. In 1980, I, along with two coworkers, purchased the real
estate company we worked for. For fourteen of the next eighteen years I was
the managing broker for our company which employed a staff of 32 sales
people. Selling my interest in the
real estate company in 1998, I affiliated with a friend’s firm
and still have a desk at that office. I truly love helping people and get
great joy from serving people as their real estate representative. In
2005, I decided
to position myself to follow my passion for travel.
How long have you been planning Early
Retirement? And what gave you the final push to make the commitment?
I started considering my options
regarding retirement in early 2005. I knew that if I wanted to travel I
would need to redirect my equity in real estate into other investments that
did not require me to manage them. By the end of 2006 I had converted much
of my real estate equity into investments that do not require management on
my part. At that point I was financially independent and no longer needed to
Kim as Elephant owner
for a day in Chiang Mai, Thailand
I heard the two of you being
interviewed by radio talk show host Clark Howard in 2006 and the
timing was perfect. I knew my passion was to travel but I did not know
exactly where to start or how to go about it. I purchased your book,
Adventure’s Guide To Early Retirement, and it was the perfect
vehicle to help me create a vision of how to go about making the break from
everyday work life. Your book is truly what gave me the push to make the
What has been your biggest challenge
to taking the plunge?
I really had two equally large
challenges to taking the plunge:
challenge was to make sure the people in my real estate
business, my clients, many of whom
have become good friends and who depend on me, are well taken care of in
my absence. Fortunately I have been able to resolve this issue.
Second, I had several
real estate investments which I personally managed. Property management is
very time consuming and I knew if I wanted to travel extensively it would
eliminating or at least substantially reducing my management
responsibilities. In addition, the return on my equity (cash flow) from
the properties was low because while the properties had gone up
substantially in value over the years, the rents had not. I needed to
increase my cash flow in order to take the plunge.
Scuba diving on Phi
Phi Island, Thailand
In this transitional period, what has
been the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise to me
about transitioning into retirement is how simple it is to do once you make
up your mind to do it. I sometimes have a tendency to over-think things and
make them more complicated than they really are. At the risk of sounding
like your book publisher, it was your book that
helped me see that if I followed some very simple steps I could travel very
inexpensively and stress free. That was a surprise to me.
Will you plan to keep a home in the
States, do more traveling, or become a full time PT? ( Perpetual Traveler )
Santa Rosa, CA has been my home town
since 1972. It lies in the heart of the premium grape growing area and wine
industry for the United States. Just an hour north of San Francisco, where the
giant Redwood trees grow in northern California, it is in truly one of the
most beautiful places on earth. I will always have a residence there but plan on doing much more traveling in the future.
I am divorced, have no
children, and currently unattached so my
responsibilities are minimal which gives me great opportunity to
become at least a part time PT. My current goal is to travel between
6 and 9 months of the year.
Do you travel with electronics?
If so, do you
find that they help or hinder you in your travels?
I travel with a digital camera, lap
top, cell phone, and a hand held GPS device. I find them all to be
tremendous assets and I would not travel without them. They are small, light
and their utility value is far greater than any inconvenience of having to
In Cabo San Lucas,
Mexico, Sea of Cortez
We understand that your investment
approach using real estate is much different from ours using Index stock
mutual funds. Can you
tell us about it?
A mentor of mine in real estate once
said to me “you can make a good living selling real estate, but you build
wealth by buying real estate.” I began buying real estate in the late 1970's
and by 2004 had accumulated a fair amount of investment property – mostly
residential which is very management intensive.
Over my years in real
estate I have been through several peeks and valleys. Early in 2004 I felt
that the rise in real estate values was likely close to, or at a peak. I
started looking for alternative investments that would provide me with
income that did not require my direct management. I discovered an investment
vehicle called Tenant In Common (TIC) ownership.
Tenant In Common (TIC) investments are
typically large commercial, industrial, or residential apartment
properties. They are generally managed by the companies that create them or
by a professional property management company. Not all “TIC’s” are real
estate investments. There are also energy investments such as crude oil and
that qualify as Tenant In
Common (TIC) investments. For the real estate properties I had owned and
managed for many years there is no tax on the gain (profit) at the time of sale,
as long as the I.R.S. requirements for a 1031 tax deferred exchange are
followed. A real estate professional, CPA, or attorney can
easily explain the rules to those readers who may have an
As a result of doing a tax deferred
exchange to move my real estate equity from properties I managed to TIC
investments, I eliminated any capital gain tax obligation at the time of
sale for the properties I sold. I substantially increased the monthly income
produced by the TIC investments versus that of the rentals I had
owned. Because the TIC investments are professionally managed, it eliminated
any personal responsibility for property management which freed up my time
Having fun with Thai
girls promoting a Thai product
What are your greatest passions in
life? What motivates you?
I am truly passionate about helping
people to help themselves. I strongly believe in the principal that if you
give a hungry person a fish they will eat for a day and if you teach them
how to catch the fish they will eat for a lifetime. I think that is the
reason I am so passionate about my real estate work, because I am helping
people to help themselves. As I travel and stay in different places I will
be able to apply this principal and continue my passion around the world and,
I am sure, make many new and good friends along the way.
Also, I am passionate about travel and
discovering new and different things in life. If it is possible, and I think
it is, to combine my passion for travel with my desire to help people in
some capacity, it would be my perfect world.
My motivation, at least in part, is
driven by a desire to make as many good friends in as many places around the
world as I possibly can. I believe the more friendships that cross international
borders the safer place the world becomes. I am not naive in the belief that I
can bring about world peace with this philosophy but it certainly
will not hurt. It is my small contribution and besides, it is a lot
What’s the one thing you can’t live
In one sentence, what is your
philosophy on life, or your motto?
Live life with integrity and always be
honest. In one sentence that is both my philosophy of life and my motto.
Once again we would
like to thank Kim for taking the time to answer a few of our questions and
wish him the best for his future.
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