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Meet the Investment Nomad

Michael Burge bought 17 properties in just over four years, but he still chooses to live out of a suitcase, running his property investment consulting business off his iPhone, writes Laine Moger.

27 June 2023

Before becoming a property investor, Michael Burge says he was doing “fine”.

He had no debt and earned good money as a self-employed fitness instructor … but he didn’t own anything, and that bothered him. “It always puzzled me why one person can have one house, while another person has 50,” he says.

Burge set himself a challenge: to find out if there was a secret formula for property investing, and as it turned out, there was.

The path to property

Growing up, Burge and his twin brother were raised by their single mother. “We didn’t have a terrible upbringing financially, but it was a lot of stress,” he says. Fresh out of high school, Burge knew he didn’t want to still be just working at 30. He was eager to build a passive income and create financial freedom.

His attempts to crack into the finance industry didn’t work – he’d tried and failed to start a business – so he started to think about property. But there was one problem; Burge knew nothing about investment.

“There was no point learning from my mum or close friends,” he said. So, the now former fitness instructor headed to YouTube, studying the methods of people who did own 50 properties to see if there were similarities of success, and there was.

Burge’s first property settled in 2018, shortly before he turned 30. Then, within the space of 18 months, he had bought five properties in Rotorua.

Straight-up investing

Following his investment successes, Burge began building a consulting business, called Real Estate Consulting NZ Ltd. “I’m not a financial adviser, but in the video I talk about what I did and how I understand investing and how I learned investing,” he says. “I think of it as an A to Z for investing.”

In four years he’s built up a very trusted following. Burge says he doesn’t sell anything, rather his business is all about education and helping people. When Covid hit in 2020, with everyone at home, the education aspect of the business took off.

A new course, Straight Up Investing, is video-led, designed to educate people who may be starting on their own investment journey. “The videos detail my journey and focus on: ‘I did this’ and ‘this is how I think’. I don’t recommend property, I just teach the theory.”

Financial freedom

Burge doesn’t work off a laptop, or rent an office – his entire business is run off his iPhone. He doesn’t even have a permanent place to live, despite having nearly 20 properties in his portfolio.

“I don’t live in any of the homes I own,” he said. “I solely dug my life on the premise I want complete freedom. Even when I travel I carry on [my business].”

Burge spends his time between Auckland and Christchurch, as well as overseas holidays.

“I look at investing like a small business and improve my life and help others and enjoy my life.”

In terms of the market right now, who knows what will happen. But, regardless, Burge’s going to keep buying property … that he doesn’t live in. “If I can buy more property, I will, but it’s more about having a balanced life and not being stressed. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I love real estate, I love helping people. I genuinely feel good when I explain something and they understand it.”

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