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Sydney-sider Werine Erasmus is living proof that you can live wherever you want and invest (and renovate in her case) somewhere else entirely.

Generation Xer Werine rents and lives part-time in the Sydney inner suburb of Woollahra after making the move south from Brisbane a few years back.

Originally from South Africa, Werine’s years in the Sunshine State were spent working full-time while also following her passion for renovating.

Over the course of about six years, she somehow managed to complete three profitable renovations of a unit, a house and townhouse while living in the properties at the same time – a strategy she admits is not for the faint-hearted.

She’s a hands-on renovator, and likes to get her hands dirty as much as possible, so it’s little surprise that those projects netted her total profits of more than $250,000.

The move to Sydney, however, brought about new thinking.

She says she was keen to start a new renovation fulltime as soon as she landed in early 2015 but the Sydney market was far too hot to handle even then.

“I usually try to buy around the $350,000 market so I can maximise the potential profit,” she said.

“In Brisbane, finding properties at that price was hard enough, but in Sydney it was impossible.”

Werine’s renovation strategy includes buying affordably as well as a property that has something unique about it, which can ramp up its potential returns post-reno.

Her renovating prowess even resulted in her being on the cover of Australian Property Investor magazine in December 2014.

She says she spent months trying to buy a renovator in Sydney but realised that her budget didn’t match up with the soaring property prices. So, she changed her strategy.

Instead of investing in a property to renovate (and potentially live in, too) in Sydney, Werine turned her focus to the more affordable regional centre of Newcastle.

She says she realised that if she was going to get back into the market anytime soon she had to think outside the investment square.

“I love renting a room part-time in Woollahra as it’s close to the city, to cafes, and to the beach,” she says.

“Investing in a renovator in Newcastle just made sense to me as it’s only 150 kilometres away so it’s relatively easy to get there. The main attraction, of course, was its affordability compared to Sydney.”

Werine bought an elevated three-bedroom villa with double garage in the suburb of Charlestown for $335,000 in March 2016.

She is nearing completion on the reno, which is likely to net her another handsome payday of about $70,000 in profit.

Her days as a “rentvator” are well and truly here to stay, she says, because the Sydney market is even hotter now than it was two years ago.

“There’s no way that I could afford to buy a renovator in Sydney these days. I don’t think may people my age, let alone Generation Y, could,” she says.

“Investing and renovating in Newcastle means that I’m still in the property game, and I’m still making solid profits from my renovations, while still renting part-time in the city.

“I think it’s a win-win for my situation because I do have the flexibility of living in the Newcastle property to complete the renovation.”

Werine is impressed with the Newcastle property market and the potential this market offers for renovators. She recently purchased the property next door to the current renovation project for $358,000 to add to her investment portfolio.

Her focus over the next few months will be to engage the right agent to sell the renovator while avidly scouring the internet for her next project.

She aims to start a new renovation project  in early 2017 and hopes to do so full-time.

The next Newcastle property will be Werine’s fifth renovation project and she says the success of each project has motivated her to embark on a renovation career.

“Each renovation has been more successful than the last so it’s time that I followed my passion full-time,” she says.

“I also want to help other renovators because I’ve learned so much along the way that they can benefit, and ultimately profit, from.

“Renting in Sydney and investing and renovating somewhere else has given me the lifestyle I want as well as an investment strategy that will greatly improve my financial situation in the years to come.

“It really is the best of both worlds.”

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Nicola McDougall

Nicola McDougall

Nicola McDougall is an award-winning journalist, property investor, and former editor of Australian Property Investor magazine. She is also a successful lifestyle blogger, likes writing movies "in her spare time", and is a novice surfer tragic.
Nicola McDougall

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