Twenty-five years ago, Maven, his beautiful young bride, Chris, and their youngsters moved to San Diego. Since then, he’s helped scores of other families build wealth by improving San Diego County’s housing stock. A few thousand people live in nicer apartments and starter homes because of upgrades “Mave” made to tired, neglected, or subpar properties.
Mave trained himself to create value. Where most people see squalor or despair, he envisions a better future. After years of trying many things and learning lessons the hard way, Mave knows how to transform a neglected property and wisely make it much more desirable. He has learned how to combine two and two and create five.
By working with city planners and tradespeople, he dramatically transforms beat up structures into their best condition in a generation. He hires architects, carpenters, electricians, handymen, landscapers, plumbers, property managers, and roofers to craft the best housing for the families who rented or bought from him. A disproportionate amount of his payroll was generated during recessions.
His wife Chris is a generous, loving, fun mom, and well respected within their worship community. No one in the family is perfect, but they’re all deliberately and intentionally happy and a blessing to those around them. Last weekend their youngest moved into nearby college dorms.
Within a year Chris and Mave will no longer be California citizens. While they have been in our state, they were great neighbors, happy to create value for the people they served and paid their taxes honestly.
Their California taxes are probably four times the average California household. But high taxes are not the biggest reason for leaving California. Chris and Maven are worn out by other people’s resentment and bitterness because of his extraordinary success.
Several people gave Mave grief because his ventures were profitable. Mave has talked with several of his critics. He learned that few give money to organizations that help the poor, and few volunteer to help the poor.
Mave and Chris donate more than 10% to non-profits, many of which help the less fortunate. They participate in their church’s programs, like the weekend they build a home for a poor family.
Many of his critics assume that because Mave made money that proved he exploited the poor. When low income households choose Mave as their best option for housing, somehow, he becomes a bad person. Creating value and serving the poor seem impossible to his critics.
Mave’s critics expect to get paid for their work and want their retirement account to generate dividends or grow in value. They don’t like that Mave being well rewarded for doing difficult things which they would not or could not do.
His critics say they’re concerned about income inequality. They contend there should be no reward for risking his capital. Mave and Chris are leaving because they perceive many Californians don’t believe in capitalism. They’re tired of being vilified because of their success.
So Mave and Chris will soon be among the million plus ex-Californians. The rate of affluent households leaving the state has never been higher. Statistically every time a wealthy household leaves the state’s income inequality decreases. Social justice folks will applaud, but I wonder about the cost.
Do you think our state will be better off when Chris and Mave are gone? If so, how could you roust out more like them?
If you wish that California would retain families like Chris and Mave, what could you do differently to keep families like them?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”