From engineer to property investor: how his old co-workers inspired him to shift gears

Scott O’Neill has spent years as an engineer in Sydney, working with people 20 years older than him to build railways on holidays, before he decided that he didn't like the outlook of his future, so he shifted gears and found another way to create wealth and afford a more financially stable life ahead of him by building an impressive 28-strong property portfolio.

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The property investor described most of his former co-workers as “divorced, overweight, and moving every two years for work,” and seeing how his future could turn out if he remains in the same path made him want to be able to retire as early as possible.

“I was sitting around a management table and I noticed there [were] maybe 10 guys, 20 years older… they all looked tired, and work was their life. They loved it, [but] I didn't… Engineering was what I did at uni[versity] and it was a means to an end. I'd chose it initially because it paid well as a graduate engineer... Then six months in, I just realised the money didn't matter… It was never going to last,” Scott told Smart Property Investment. 

“I just had to do something. Property was the only thing I even thought about to go into. [Getting into] shares, I never heard anyone retiring out of shares. Naturally, as an Australian, most people turn to property. I was no different.”

The property investor made his first purchase in 2010, and while he had different hurdles to jump, he knew he made the right decision to create wealth through property when its value went from $450,000 to over a million dollars in less than seven years—and it continues to rent for nearly $700 a week.

According to him, one of the first property lessons he learned from experience is also one of the most common overused life advice: “Never judge a book by its cover.” Before buying his first investment property, Scott was hesitant to forego his desire of getting a beautiful house.

He shared: “It was just an old place… Hats off to my wife at the time because I remember showing her the property thinking, ‘This thing looks horrible and it's never going to fly,’ but she said, ‘Look, does it cost us anything to hold?’ I said, ‘No.’ And that was the end of it—we went with the pure investment track, and never looked back.”

Smart Property Investment’s Phil Tarrant, who is an avid investor himself, agreed that some of the best gifts in property investment usually come badly wrapped, but that does not mean they can’t add value to your property portfolio. As long as the property has tenants and they pay good rent and it consistently goes up in value, then an investor is surely on the right track.

“Irrespective of how good it looks, you just want a thing to perform,” he said.

Right now, Scott continues to educate himself about property investment not only to move his own journey further forward but also to be able to help other investors find the right properties for them. While property investment could be complicated at times, his passion and dedication to the venture have made it seem like a simple “treasure hunt,” said the property investor.

“I'd help my sisters buy, or their friends, and then their friends. It would just flow on through that way. It was just enjoyable and I think there's a shelf life of three weeks on a beach, doing nothing, so you can't do that… This is the game for now,” Scott concluded.

Tune in to Scott O’Neill’s episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about the diversity of his assets, how he’s “buying his time back” through property investment, and how he’s effectively managing his assets to secure $300,000 in income each year. 


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