Ditching tax-free Abu Dhabi jobs for Samuel Leeds training pays off

winners on a wednesday

Ditching tax-free Abu Dhabi jobs for Samuel Leeds training pays off…..

Ellen McDonald and Ashley Toft are earning around £5,000 a month from deal sourcing and rent-to-rents just nine months after joining the Property Investors Academy. The couple quit their teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi to attend a crash course and are now both financially free. They overcame Covid restrictions to return to the UK, determined as Samuel Leeds preaches to ‘do whatever it takes’ to be successful.


‘We realised we could achieve our goal more quickly in England’

Ashley and Ellen met about six months before Ellen landed a job as a teacher in Abu Dhabi. Ashley followed her over and also took up a teaching post.

The work was difficult and drained them, but they had tax-free salaries and enjoyed the lifestyle, with Ashley playing golf in his free time. So, they decided to stick it out.

“The plan was we were going to take the money that we make and put it towards buying one or two properties a year. We thought we’ll do it for 10 years, then come back and we’ll have a portfolio,” explains Ellen.

Ashley was convinced this was the way forward too.

“My whole knowledge of property was very little. My family don’t invest in property. Their understanding of wealth is to get a house, live in it and upgrade all the time. I thought I’m in a job that’s well paid, we can start getting buy-to-lets every year or so. I thought that was the best way to get wealthy.”

Then he came across Samuel Leeds’ property investing videos and realised they could achieve their goal much more quickly if they simply returned to England. 

After watching The Eviction, Property Investors’ Apprentice-style contest for budding entrepreneurs, Ashley was confident he could make a go of it. By chance, one of Samuel’s free crash courses was coming up. So, they decided to give up their jobs and fly over to attend the event.

It was a bold move and not an easy choice. Due to the pandemic they had to take tests to prove they were free of the coronavirus before being allowed to enter the UK. That was when they encountered their first hurdle. Ellen’s results came back before Ashley’s, even though they had taken the tests at the same time.

Taking up the story, Ellen says: “Because we’d been watching Samuel’s videos, we were in the mindset of whatever it takes we’ve got to do this. We were ringing the test centre non-stop.”

After ‘pushing and pushing,’ they managed to get the paperwork they needed and changed flights to get to the Property Investors Crash Course. Relieved to be finally back home, they got into a taxi to make their way there, only to discover it had been cancelled.

“I went on my phone and saw that Samuel had put a video up saying it was not going ahead. We couldn’t believe it!”

On the video Samuel explained that the crash course in London had been stopped because the whole of the capital had been moved into Tier 3, a very high alert area prohibiting large events. Two back-up venues had been lined up, but these also could not be used because of the Covid situation. 

As a result, Samuel issued an apology, inviting people who had travelled from overseas to meet him in person at his studio and watch him in action live. This group not only included Ashley and Ellen but would-be investors from Switzerland and even Australia.

Afterwards, Ellen and Ashley joined the Samuel Leeds eAcademy which provides 12 months of support and online programmes, as well as a step-by-step manual and contract packs.

They are full of praise for the academy after completing all the courses. 

“It was brilliant,” says Ashley. The rent-to-rent training got me started with finding rent-to-rents, and the Deal Selling Masterclass was great for what to say to investors and how to build an investor list. I also learnt about how to manage serviced accommodation properly.

The Buy, Refurbish, Refinance Masterclass was really important as well because everything needs some kind of refurb. You learn about getting the refurb right and organising and talking to builders. It was really useful.”

Ellen agrees. She liked the way the training was broken down into separate videos, which she could watch again if she didn’t understand something.

The course she found the most interesting was the Rent to Rent Accelerator.

“I think my favourite part has always been when you do up properties and you stage them. You can just follow step by step exactly how to do it. I said I’m going to do exactly what Samuel says to do. That’s when I got my rent-to-rents.”

‘We slept on a mattress in the living room’

Ellen and Ashley have not been back to Abu Dhabi since attending the Property Investors Crash Course in December 2020. 

Ashley admits jacking in their jobs so soon was a ‘terrible idea’ and he wouldn’t advise anyone else to do it before getting started in property. It is not something Samuel advocates either.

“I told Samuel at a Samuel365 Mastermind session I’ve quit my job. I was so excited. He said: ‘amazing, how many deals have you sold?’ I went none. ‘OK, are you doing rent-to-rents?’ No. He was like, next person!’

Ashley laughs at the memory but adds that the only reason they were able to resign from their jobs was because they were staying at his mother’s house. 

As he had moved out several years ago, the couple had to put up with some makeshift sleeping arrangements.

“We had a little mattress behind the couch that every night I’d pull out and put on the living room floor.”

He agrees with Samuel that they had to make an ‘all or nothing choice’ because pursuing a creative investment strategy like rent-to-rent from Abu Dhabi would have been very hard.

Even being on the spot, Ellen says she struggled to find a rent-to-rent deal before going on the training.

“I was ringing estate agents and they were saying no. Then I looked at Samuel’s script and decided to follow it.”

As soon as she did that and made it clear that she was looking for a property to take on as company let, she received an invitation from a landlady to view her accommodation in York.

“We tried to find out how we could help her,” recalls Ellen. “She didn’t have an issue with tenants. She’d always been able to put someone in, but she didn’t live near the property. It was in York and she lived in Leeds. She wanted the easiest way to rent it out with no problems.”

Ellen and Ashley agreed to pay the owner a fixed amount of £750 a month for three years. In return they would be allowed to rent out the accommodation at a higher rate and keep the profit. 

winners on a wednesday

So far, they have given the kitchen a makeover, brought in a couch and have also been painting the walls. They engaged a management company to take care of the lettings and are expecting their first tenants soon

A representative from the company came to see the work while it was underway and loved what they were doing, says Ellen.

“She told me: ‘I know exactly who I can get in here because I’ve got a lot of contractors.’ 

“That’s why we picked the company because she has too many contractors and not enough places. The tenants are paying £2,000 each month which will leave us with a clean profit of £685.”

The rental contract is fixed for two months, after which Ashley and Ellen will try to get a higher rate from shorter lets.


Deal sourcing funds rent-to-rents

Ashley was met with some sceptism when he tried to explain the rent-to-rent strategy to his family and friends. He confesses he had some initial doubts himself.

“I was watching the videos and I was trying to explain it to people because it sounded like a great idea. I was telling my mum and my brother about it and that I was thinking of coming home and doing it. My mum said it’s definitely illegal! But then we just followed the course.”

Ellen was introduced to the concept of rent-to-rent after watching The Eviction and seeing one of the contestants trying to secure a deal with a landlord who had multiple apartments. She was also aware of the many students featured on Samuel’s popular Winners on a Wednesday series who have successfully made a living from rent-to-rents. Even so, she had doubts as well.

“I thought it’s too good to be true. Then meeting Samuel and seeing people who have done it just makes you realise it is possible.”

Ashley and Ellen are also making money from identifying property investment opportunities. Since January they have been selling one to two deals a month to investors and then putting that active income into rent-to-rents.

They now have control of two more properties in Edinburgh and Manchester which are also run by management companies, leaving them with hardly any work to do themselves. The Edinburgh accommodation has just been booked for 22 days which will make them a profit of £1,300, while the Manchester property is generating £300 to £500, depending on the time of year.

“The income is about £5,000 a month when you factor in the rent-to-rents as well as the deal sourcing,” says Ashley.

The pair invested heavily in education, paying £12,000 each to join the Property Investors Academy, but say it was worth it to get them where they are now so quickly. They also picked up valuable tips like learning how to avoid paying a deposit. That saved them from having to make an £800 down payment on the York property.

Now that they are financially independent, they both have ambitions to help other people. Ashley wants to become a speaker and advise others how to follow in his footsteps, while Ellen is keen to volunteer at her local hospital and take advantage of being close to her family.

She met a friend recently over breakfast and was trying to explain the environment offered by the academy.

“I said the energy Samuel has is something else and when you go to these events you just leave on such a high. Everyone is so positive. Everyone honestly wants the best for everyone else.”

winners on a wednesday

Ashley and Ellen’s tips

Ashley: Joining the Property Investors Academy was 100 per cent a good move because it would have taken us far longer to get where we are now. We wouldn’t have been able to sell deals or get good rent-to-rents without that training.

Ellen: When you don’t follow the programme step-by-step, you are likely to make mistakes which are going to be more expensive than paying for the course.

Samuel’s verdict

“Ellen and Ashley have got £5,000 coming in every month. Most people don’t make that much from properties they own. They achieved financial freedom in a matter of months and have already made back what they spent on the academy. Clearly, the two of them are going to build on their success in the years to come. They are both an asset to the academy.”

Ashley and Ellen’s contact details:

Website: Toftmcdonald.co.uk

Instagram: Ashley.toft Ellen.mcdonald3

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