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A Nurse’s Story from Burnout to Real Estate Investment with Annette Forbes

by Jen Barna MD, Financial Independence, Physician Job Change, Physician Side Gig, Podcast

“At one point in my career, I think I mentioned I was asking for a seat at the table. Now I build my own tables. I build them myself. I’ve literally built my own tables by putting things together for my properties. So I just love that, the freedom to be able to have my own path.”
– Annette Forbes

Annette Forbes is a 26-year experienced nurse, military spouse, and mom who decided to embark on her short-term rental journey in 2022 after experiencing burnout in her work as a corporate nurse. She recently established Magnolia Accommodations as a hospitality company, providing short-term rental stays to the traveling community and those needing temporary housing. Annette began her nursing career as a volunteer at a local hospital and eventually attained a high-level position where she could impact healthcare from a whole new level.

Eventually, Annette got the opportunity to work from home, but then realized it was difficult for her to get out of bed just to make it over to her home office. After 26 years as a nurse, she felt empty with nothing more to give, and she also wasn’t as appreciated for her hard work as she should have been. Annette decided to take a pause from her nursing career to regroup and figure out what to do next. She figured if she could work hard and save companies millions of dollars a year, putting that same effort towards her next move would be life-changing – and it was. After scrolling through Instagram one day, Annette discovered the world of short-term rentals, and she went all in.

Annette shares her wisdom regarding what it took for her to be able to take a much-needed pause from her career. Getting your finances in order should be your first step, and she shares how her family made it work by relying on one income. Annette also describes how she started Magnolia Accommodations and the concept of arbitrage, which is essentially subletting a leased property as a short-term rental for short periods of time. Starting up her real estate business has been challenging at times, but Annette has made great strides and is seeing massive success in a relatively short amount of time.

What’s Inside:

  • How Annette went from long-time nurse to a career in real estate
  • What it took for Annette to be able to take a pause from her nursing career
  • How to build wealth with short-term rentals and arbitrage

Mentioned In This Episode:

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Please enjoy the full transcript below

 

Annette: And so this short term rental seemed, like I said, very intriguing. So I dug into that. And when I dug into it, I saw it as really, first of all, a possibility for my child who’s going off to college. I started thinking about, oh, well, we can do this rental and maybe a duplex. And, you know, she lives on one side and we rent out the other side. So the wheels just started turning and I just started digging a little bit more into that. So I turned around and I was like, this is something I can do. It doesn’t require me to go back to school. It just requires research and I’m fine with researching. And then I also, it tied into nursing. Nursing is a lot of times about solving a problem. And so short-term rentals solved a problem. So that was perfect for me.

Jen: Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Dr. Jen Barna, co-host of the podcast, and I’m thrilled to have you here. Thank you for joining us today. If you are a health care professional, whether you are a nurse, a PA, nurse practitioner, physician, wherever you are on your journey, in possibly a job transition and maybe looking to put your best foot forward or whether you’re practicing and you want to explore and accelerate your success on your own terms while integrating your life and work so that you can enjoy your career in a sustainable way and prevent burnout, please check us out over at DocWorking.com. That’s what we are all about and I’m thrilled to have with me today a wonderful guest who is doing something that I think you will find interesting. I certainly am very excited to hear about her journey. With me is Annette Forbes. She is a 26-year experienced nurse, military spouse and mom who decided to embark on her short-term rental journey in 2022 after experiencing burnout in her work as a corporate nurse. So Annette, you established Magnolia Accommodations as a hospitality company, providing short term rental stays to the traveling community and those needing temporary housing. Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. 

Annette: Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. 

Jen: I’m really curious to hear, first of all, if you don’t mind sharing it with us about your burnout and what that was, how you experienced that personally. If we could start with that and then I’m of course, I’m very, very interested in hearing about your journey into real estate as well. 

Annette: So great. I started out as a candy striper. So, many people don’t even know what that is, but it’s basically a young volunteer in our hospital. And I knew right away that I wanted to become a nurse. I knew that it was second nature to me helping people in that type of situation. And so I went all out, of course, to pursue my nursing career. But once I got into it, the goal was always to get to this high-level nursing position that I can impact the healthcare world. So a couple of years ago, about six or seven years ago, I was able to get into that opportunity where I could impact the healthcare from a different standpoint. And so, I was doing that for a couple of years, doing a lot of working for insurance company. And I got to the point where I was working from home, which, okay, that’s wonderful, right? I was working from home, but it was hard for me to get out of the bed just to walk to my office in the house. And I started to realize, okay, something has happened. I have given myself for 26 years now to this nursing profession and now I feel like I’m empty and I have nothing else to give. You know, I felt like there was a lot of times where I maybe was not appreciated for my hard work as I should have been. So it was definitely challenging and I just felt like I was constantly asking for a seat at the table. So I decided, okay, well, Annette, why don’t you just try taking a pause for a minute? Because I’ve never done that. In those 25 years that I was in nursing, I have never taken a pause. It was just something that I always did and I never wanted to be anything else. So while I was on this pause, I was just scrolling on Instagram, breath out, like, “What am I going to do? Am I going to go back to nursing, maybe at a different level?” Because with nursing you have so many different paths that you can take. So I still love patient care. I still love especially the elderly, they are like my favorite group of people to work with, the elderly patients. But I was just, I said I wanted to do something for myself, like if I can work hard and save companies millions of dollars a year, if I can put in that work for myself, then that’s what I need to do. And so that kind of started my change as to thinking, okay, what are you going to do with yourself now that you’re going to put a pause on nursing? 

Jen: And if you don’t mind me asking also one thing that I am curious about and that I talk with a lot of our guests about is putting yourself in a position financially where you can make a leap like you did. And do you have any insights for someone who may be in the midst of a career and maybe thinking, well, down the road, I might want to jump into something else? Were there steps that you took that made it possible for you to take a pause when you saw that you needed to do that and then to make a leap into a different career, like budgeting steps or financial steps that you put into order along the way? 

Annette: Yeah, that’s great. I would love to share that. Basically, I am married to a retired military person. He retired at 26 years out of the U.S. Navy. So during that time, we learned financial budgeting because I used to work as needed. I didn’t work a full time until probably the last maybe eight years of my career. So we always said let’s always put our budget to be on one person’s salary. That way, if something were to ever happen and the other person could not work, it won’t be a change. And so what we did was we set up our budget to be able to, you know, take care of ourselves and the things that we needed and wanted on that one person’s income. And so therefore, my income was savings, it was savings, it was retirement and that nature. So when I left, when I was able to take a pause, it wasn’t a change financially. Oh, I have to readjust. No, it’s not because for many years we set up our finances to be able to cover just one person’s income. 

Jen: That is brilliant advice and I hope that someone listening may make a change and find that to be really helpful to them in the future. One reason that I talk about these things on the podcast is because I think that young people who have the insight, like you did, to take these steps going forward have such an easier time than someone who finds themselves, you know, well into their career and then already using a budget where they’re using two incomes and then they have to cut back when they decide that they want to make that type of change. So kudos to you and your husband for figuring that out early and really being ahead of the game. So tell me about why real estate? What drew you into the real estate world? 

Annette: Well, when I took the pause, I had no direction. I’m going to tell you, I just was like, okay, I’m just going to take the pause. So it happened Memorial Day weekend last year. I can remember exactly when it happened. I was home alone and was scrolling through Instagram and I saw these videos basically talking about short term rentals and Airbnbs and such. And so as I dug more into it, it just became more and more intriguing. I’m like, okay, I don’t want to be a real estate agent. That’s not the goal. But I do want to be able to do something that will eventually take me back to nursing. And I still was thinking nursing at the time. And so this short term rental seemed, like I said, very intriguing. So I dug into that. And when I dug into it, I saw it as really, first of all, a possibility for my child who’s going off to college. I started thinking about, oh, well, we can do this rental and maybe a duplex. And, you know, she lives on one side and we rent out the other side. So the wheels just started turning and I just started digging a little bit more into that. So I turned around and I was like, this is something I can do. It doesn’t require me to go back to school. It just requires research and I’m fine with researching. And then I also, it tied into nursing. Nursing is a lot of times about solving a problem. And so short-term rentals solved a problem. So that was perfect for me. 

Jen: Where are you in the journey now? What have you done to implement the new real estate business? Where are you so far? 

Annette: So just one year later, I started last year actually with arbitrage. Short term rental arbitrage. And for those who don’t understand, arbitrage is basically leasing someone’s apartment or house and then turn around and subletting it for short term rental just for short periods of time. People may come in for seven days, three weeks, or things of that nature. So I started with that short term rental arbitrage and I actually arbitrage two units right now. One is in Georgia and the one is in Texas and through arbitrage, I discovered that I can do ownership. I can own another home and do short term rentals. And so with discovering that and reading my mentor Dr. Rachel, she opened my eyes to possibilities that I didn’t think were, you know, attainable by me. So I started looking into ownership. And so now we are actually building a beach house in Mississippi to use as a short-term rental property. 

Jen: Wow. And so your mentor is pharmacist Rachel Gainsbrugh, who we’ve had as a guest on the podcast. And we’ll link to that in the show notes if you’d like, if you’re listening and you’d like to hear that episode. So she has really been instrumental in helping you to get started. 

Annette: Oh, absolutely. You know, I feel like there’s many mistakes that you can make with this, but why not take the opportunity to work with someone who can help you not make those mistakes? Because if she’s gone through it, why should I go through it? So she was able to help me to take a different direction and make sure that my path was as mistake-free as possible. You know, you’re still going to make mistakes here and there, but having her guidance has really helped me to see all of the possibilities. So I love doing a short term rental. I love it because it’s problem solving even today, you know, I’m always problem solving. So I really like it. It’s helping me fulfill that nursing part of me that, you know, I would miss if I wasn’t doing anything. 

Jen: Let’s talk for a second about the arbitrage, that is a terrific way to get started and really learn the business before you make the commitment of buying a house and trying or renting, you know, a structure that you actually own. So how do you talk a landlord into letting you do short term rentals on their property? Has that been a difficult process or have you found that people are open to that? 

Annette: It has its challenges. You have to get someone to understand what your business model is. And my business model is not for the party person. I absolutely don’t allow parties. A lot of landlords think that’s all you’re going to do. You’re going to rent to people who will smash their plates, cause problems for the other residents. And so building my business, I always build it as if I had 20 units, compare to two. What are the problems that I can solve for this landlord or this property manager? Again, problem solving that comes from my nursing career. And so I let them know, one hundred percent, you’re going to get your rent on time every month. And so that right there gets you a little bit of open door. Okay, you’re going to pay the rent. And I also set up processes to make sure that my process is to weed out those people that aren’t desired in the community. So letting them know that and basically just giving them my business model, the reviews that I’ve gotten from other guests, those definitely help some, too. 

Jen: And so when you were getting started with your first property, how did you overcome not having any reviews? 

Annette: Well, when I did my first property, I’m going to tell you, I called people, probably made 10, 12, maybe 15 calls a day. And people would say, no, no, no, no. But I just kept going at it. I kept sending emails, I kept sending calls because there is a specific person that I am geared toward. I’m geared to the traveling business worker. I’m geared towards the travel medical professional. Also with being a military spouse, I’m also looking to expand my company to be able to assist them with housing. A lot of times as a spouse, you’re having to go to these different areas, but you don’t want to take your child out of a home environment. So I’m looking to be able to build that environment for the military spouses who come to the different stations. 

Jen: And it really makes sense to put your expertise in these areas to work in your real estate business, so that’s a tremendous thought. And where do you see this going in the future? Do you see building it out further? How do you draw the line? Do you have a certain goal that you’re aiming for? 

Annette: Yeah. So after the completion of the beach house, which is phenomenal in itself, I didn’t even imagine that I could do that. But after that completion, I want to work on, like I said, providing housing for the military spouses who are going to different areas. And then I also, one of my other plans is to have a house for those who are disabled veterans. And use my nursing ability, my crisis management skills, to help them get the support that they need. 

Jen: That’s tremendous. How have you found as a mom that your kids, I don’t know if you have more than one or just one, but have you found that watching you go through this experience has influenced your kids? 

Annette: Absolutely. Absolutely. I just have one child and she’s getting ready to graduate high school. I’m so excited about that. But her seeing my work ethic has definitely rubbed off on her. She helps me with the business. She helps with some of my marketing. She helps with getting things together. She was there for my first unit, the first unit that I had to design and get furnished and everything. And she was there in the thick of it, putting dresser drawers together. So she sees what I am trying to do and know that there’s possibilities for her as well and she can become her own business owner. She is part of my company. I’ve legally made her part of my company and so she is over the moon about that. And I think it just shows her the possibilities. Yes, you can go to college and have a great career, but you can also do other things too. So it’s been great. 

Jen: What a tremendous role model. Do you have any advice for our listeners who may be thinking that they would like to embark on a similar journey? 

Annette: Yes, absolutely. So the first thing is, as I said before, make sure that you’re putting that money aside. Putting that money aside is a first step, I think, because it allows you some freedom to make decisions. I don’t know if I could have had the pause had I not made that decision with my finances at first. So that’s the first thing. And then when you’re looking to do something else, especially in real estate, find someone who knows the business, who knows how to do it the correct way, and investigate that person as far as making sure that what they’re saying is true. You have to do your own research also, but once you find that person, you know, you pretty much copy that person. You talk about, you put yourself in situations where you’re learning to get up to that level by imitating that person and what they’re doing. Because sometimes if you can see it, you can believe it and you can achieve it. So just, you know, knowing Dr. Rachel and she’s where I hope to be at some point in my career. I’m just following along and just, you know, making sure that I understand the path that she’s going so that I can imitate that path also. 

Jen: I love what you said there with if you can see it, you can believe it and you can achieve it. It really reminds me of what we say in medicine, as you know. Watch one, do one, teach one. Same concept.

Annette: Yes, exactly. So it all ties back. That’s what I love about it, you don’t just throw away those skills for 25, 26 years that you’ve developed. It all ties in, so I love that part of it. 

Jen: Absolutely. And I love how you have this sense of adventure and you’re, you know, willing to take the risk on yourself and invest in yourself. And it’s really paying off. It’s such an inspiration to hear your story. 

Annette: Yes. Yes. I absolutely love being able to kind of have the freedom to build this business how I see fit. So I love that. And at one point in my career, I think I mentioned I was asking for a seat at the table. Now I build my own tables. I build them myself. I’ve literally built my own tables by putting things together for my properties. So I just love that, the freedom to be able to have my own path. 

Jen: Tremendous. This is our guest, Annette Forbes. And she is building her own path, building her own tables and creating her own path forward in a very meaningful way. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. If someone is interested in reaching you to learn more, how is the best way for them to reach you? 

Annette: Social media of course. Instagram. My Instagram page is MagAccomm, it’s M A G A C C O M M, which is short for Magnolia Accommodations. 

Jen: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Annette. I really appreciate this conversation and I really am inspired by you. 

Annette: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me today. And I really hope that I inspire others. I really do. 

Jen: I really think you will. And we will look forward to having some updates from you as you go forward. And if you are listening, please join us for more conversations like this and please let us know your feedback and how listening to Annette’s story has helped to inspire you to move forward with your dreams. 

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