One of the latest trends is crowdfunding / syndications where money is pooled together to directly invest in various real estate properties. You do not get quite the variety and diversification you would in a REIT but it provides an opportunity to invest a smaller amount of money than purchasing a property directly. Usually, you are a limited partner in a partnership. Since you are not materially involved in the day to day activities, the income generated is passive income.
Also, financial freedom is different for every person – that’s where lifestyle design comes in. If you determine that you need $4,000 or $8,000/month (your financial limit, as you called it) to allow you to never have to work again and live the kind of life you want, then you have achieved financial freedom through lifestyle design when your passive investments produce that income. It’s a very straight forward concept, and tons of investors have proved it’s doable.
It is helpful to have an understanding of the bigger tax items – basis and depreciation. Basis is the cost or purchase price of the property minus the value of the land (note: you cannot depreciate land). The depreciation deduction you can take on residential real estate per year is the basis (cost less land) divided by 27.5. Depreciation is a great tax deduction you can take every year but will affect your gain or loss when you sell the property.
Rental properties are defined as passive income with a couple of exceptions. If you’re a real estate professional, any rental income you’re making counts as active income. If you’re "self-renting," meaning that you own a space and are renting it out to a corporation or partnership where you conduct business, that does not constitute passive income unless that lease had been signed before 1988, in which case you’ve been grandfathered into having that income being defined as passive. According to the IRS, "it does not matter whether or not the use is under a lease, a service contract, or some other arrangement."
Another benefit of investing in rental properties is the loan pay down. If you obtain a loan to buy the property, each month your tenants are paying off part of the loan. Once the mortgage on the property has been paid off, your cash flow will increase dramatically, allowing your mediocre investment to skyrocket into a full-fledged retirement program.
I just wanted to say how nice it is to see such a positive exchange between strangers on the Internet. Seriously, not only was this article (list) motivating and well-drafted, the tiny little community of readers truly were a pleasant crescendo I found to be the cause of an inward smile. Thank you, everyone, and good luck to you all with your passive income efforts!! 🙂