Should I Get into Real Estate or Go to School?

You can do both! But it’s really about what you want to spend your career doing.

I hear a lot about the fact that I’m a doctor that I have it made. Indeed, I have a high income and I’m happy about that. But, there was a price to pay for that. And there continues to be. I had to go to many years of school, then residency, making very little money, subsisting on whatever loans I could get, waiting for that time when I finally was out on my own, making a paycheck. The price I continue to pay is in student loan debt and sometimes hard work and long hours.

You need to take the time to think about what you want to be working toward for the next 40 years. If your goal is to help those in need, make meaningful connections with people, and make a difference in their lives, then keep on going to school. There’s plenty of careers that allow you to do this. If you are looking simply to have enough income from investments to retire and sit on the beach ASAP, then going to school will not, in itself, get you there until you are 65 years old. Even then, it may not.

You may think bringing in all that money is great, and it is, but I had to wait many years after high school before obtaining that income. What if I put that income into an investment all those years ago instead of paying it to some institute of higher learning? Would that have been better?

Take a look at a college graduate. This person can expect to make $67,860 per year after graduation at age 22. I’ll assume inflation increases the income and expenses evenly, so this 68k per year will stay the same until age 65. This person, after income tax and expenses, will have $15,170.60 left over for investments each year. If the investments gain 7% each year, at retirement, this person has $278,294.87. At masters level, yearly income is 81k but there’s two less years of making money due to the extra two years of classes. At retirement, the investments are worth $413k. At physician level (5 more years of classes), the investments are worth $1.5M, so it appears to be worth it to delay the income and go to school.

As long as you are happy doing your high-performing job, then go ahead and take the time to go to school and learn. If you worry that it will be day after day toiling to make it to retirement, then rethink your plans. You don’t have to make a lot of money to be a high performer.

Dr. Equity