It’s been a few days (weeks?) since the last post. All things are going well, September rent is starting to come in already. I was out of the area in International Falls, MN for a few days, and did not have much of a cell signal.
I was able to keep in contact with my tenants, although no major issues were encountered. As I begin the mental (and financial) transition to living on rental income alone, I have started to document the process and thoughts as I go.
While this blog is important to me, it has a lower priority than my real job, or my rental responsibilities. It’s even lower than my daily 3-mile walks with my dog and girlfriend. The dog certainly thinks so. I do try to keep life in perspective, especially over the past year, as my true few ‘free’ hours are often commandeered by another higher priority task with very little notice. I am slowly getting into the retirement mindset.
Here is how my recent vacation as a landlord went.
I was in International Falls, MN for a brief fishing trip. In International Falls, Verizon has a cell tower and 5 bars. I was up there with some relatives and the ones who had Verizon had no issue with calls. I had (weak) WiFi access in the lodge, so I could get emails, but no calls or texts. Not even 911 calls would work (which was an entire separate fiasco that involved getting pushed through a window…). I always thought that 911 would work anywhere.
Cheap Mobile Plans are Not Always the Best
I was using Walmart Family Mobile, which is powered by T-Mobile. It is a great plan for what I used it for until this trip. It would probably be great for 90% of what I need. It only cost $73.18 for two phones, all you can eat in terms of text, data and voice. Free international calling, except where I was. Maybe it was because my phone only had 4G, not 4Glte? I was very close to Canada, but no connection. I was on the phone for about an hour trying to get something set up, and even purchased an ‘extras’ pack for ~$11. No luck. I asked about Wifi calling, Family mobile does not offer it.
Once in a while, while traveling on the lake, I would get a random spot where a text would go through. It was very sporadic, I would check my phone and a text would be there. In one small spot we anchored, periodically I would get the text notification. I could not make any calls, and the texting was very spotty. Sometimes they would go out, sometimes they would fail.
I tried WiFi calling, but although T-Mobile has WiFi calling, if you are only “powered by T-Mobile”, you do not have it. With WiFi calling, you may be in the middle of nowhere, but have a McDonald’s with WiFi, and be back in touch. This is important of I want to manage rentals while I am on ‘vacation’. Taking calls and making calls is easy. Especially if there are no calls. Paying someone not to take calls is expensive.
Cell Towers In Town can Save The Day!
Luckily, we were only ~10 miles from town, and I went into town at least once a day. Once in town, I had 4 bars, and it was not an issue to communicate with the outside world. From a McDonald’s, I was able to order a new plan from T-Mobile directly, so I could use WiFi calling on future trips. Even if I am on a cruise I should be able to stay in touch, either at ports, or on the ship with the ships WiFi. I do not need much, but a couple of check-ins a day is nice. The tenants appreciate it too.
You can certainly manage properties from a distance. On this trip, I received a few texts from tenants. Once had a sticking toilet handle and loose towel bar. Another was seeing a bunch of wasps and wanted me to see what I could do. There was no wasp nest, so it is difficult.
Property managers take and make phone calls. Schedule your vacations around vacancies and you can manage your own property, if it is close by. Save a bunch.
I am not 100% sure why I need to feel ‘attached’. One of the most relaxing vacations I had, was a cruise where I could not be reached back in the year ~2000. Of course, I did not have any rentals at that time. If an emergency arises, I want to address it relatively soon.
Back to Fishing
And the fishing was great with the Guide we hired. We caught ~20 walleyes, most between 22” and 24”, which is 3-4 lbs. Unfortunately, only walleyes under 17”, or over 28” can be kept on Rainy Lake. When we kept some of those, it was almost lie they were too small. We did catch enough fish for a shore lunch, which was great. I did think that if we had a deep fryer in the boat, some of those larger fish would not be so lucky…
Planning the Next Vacation as a Landlord
I am now on T-Mobile, which was a small, painless transition. I had to get my phone unlocked, which was free. Then port my phone number over. I will get Wifi calling, and possibly a better signal when I switch to a 4G LTE phone. It may even be better for international calls when on a cruise ship or the next time I am near the border. It is ~$30 a month more, just over $100 for two phones.
How was your most recent vacation? How do you feel when you are out of a cell signal for an extended time period?