GTA: Online Solo Rags to Riches Guide

Disclaimer: This post will make no mention regarding any exploits or glitches nor do I condone the usage of either. If you want to cheat it is none of my business, leave it off the post.
GTA: Online Solo Rags to Riches Guide
So you just got started or are struggling to keep up with all the new expansions GTA has to offer, you are having a hard time making money and don’t have friends to help you do heists? Well look no further because below i will be going from level 0 (or whatever level you happen to be) with little to no money all the way to millions without the need of others to help at all whether it be heists or CEO/Gunrunning/etc.
Stage 0: Broke Homeless & Jobless (Doesn’t apply to most.)
Stage 1: Broke & Homeless
Stage 2: Contracted Hitman
Stage 3: President of a (Barely) Legal Business
Stage 4: Diversify your Business Portfolio
Stage 0: Broke, Homeless & Jobless
Goals for this stage:

  • Reach level 5
  • Purchase the Micro SMG with extended mag.

At this stage you can’t access any contact missions at all, but have access to different types of LTS, Deathmatch or other combat type competitive modes and maybe some adversary modes and races. Your best bet at this point is to experiment and play some popular races (stunts) or adversary modes which usually can be double xp depending on the week. Trying out all of these and you will get to level 5 in no time and maybe make some extra money. If you despise doing any and all of these then you can rob liquor stores which can also net some extra cash but you would need to rob tons of them just to get to level 5 alone and successfully evade the police every time for the xp boost. The moment you are level 5 you can move on to the next step and actually start making some money.
A massive suggestion for future reference while grinding, the best way to lose the police 100% for free while in the city is driving to the tunnel used in the jewelry heist mission in story mode. You can lose 5 star wanted levels easily just by getting here if you can because the police will not follow you all the way.
Recommended Purchases:

  • Micro SMG (Extended Mag)
  • Special Carbine

Stage 1: Broke and Homeless
Our goal for this step is to reach $50,000 (Alongside recommended purchases.) This is the step a decent amount of people should be at, this assumes that you do not have any home/garage and have little to no money but are at least level 5. The reason level 5 is so important is because it unlocks the first few simeon missions (and lowrider lamar missions). The 2 simeon missions I suggest doing once level 5 are “Where Credit’s Due” and “Ballas to the Wall” because they are easy to do solo with there being only 1 car in each. I’ll be honest I never completed all the lamar missions so I don’t know if the payouts are worth the effort but you can try if you want. Once you start doing these contact missions you will start to level up fast and unlock a wide variety of missions, at this point the gerald drug run missions can be done very fast and make a good amount of cash for the effort. Completing the contact missions will get you to $50,000 in no time probably around 1 hour of work or less.
Recommended Purchases:

  • If you haven’t purchased the $25,000 garage yet you can either do it this step or next. (I would recommend ASAP.) You don’t need a fancy garage or house to make money solo and all you need for ultimate min/max is 2 vehicle slots in the garage. Which is why you should not waste money on an actual apartment. You can get it in the next step easy anyways.
  • If you haven’t purchased it already then get the weapons mentioned previously. The micro SMG with extended mag and special carbine with drum mag.
  • If you did buy the garage in this step or before you should “purchase” the elegy RH8, on PC it is automatically free, on console all you have to do is link your account with a social club account. This is one of the fastest cars in the sports class and will get you from point a to b fast enough for its lack of a price.

Stage 2: Contracted Hitman
This stage requires you have at least $50,000 our goal(s) for this stage can be branched off in a few ways. (List below is in no order.)

  1. Save $1,000,000 to buy a CEO office.
  2. Save $700,000 to buy a kuruma. (This is obsolete if you are a returning player and own the dukes of death).
  3. Save around $1,775,000 to buy a buzzard. (optional)

Number 1 is absolutely crucial in order to advance to the next stages and the other 2 can be avoided if you want. 
How to become a returning player
Another tip you can do to be able to ignore the kuruma is if you have an old xbox 360 or PS3 with gta on it (and have an xbox gold membership or trial) then you can log in to gta with the same social club on that account on the old gen and complete the tutorial while connected to the internet and you should be considered a returning player getting a bunch of freebies mainly the dod.
Easy one time money
At this point you should quickly complete the red dead redemption event involving the free revolver to also get a free $200,000 with little to no work. Also if you are a good pilot and have willpower you can do the flight school to get around $250,000 for completing all the challenges with gold. (easier said than done.)
VIP Missions
The real meat and potatoes of this stage are something called VIP missions, this stage assumes you either have a kuruma or no kuruma but no buzzard. If you have a buzzard follow the VIP wave (Headhunter>Hostile Takeover>Headhunter>Sightseer>Repeat). For others, the idea of this step is you want to do sightseer and headhunter, which are VIP missions that take around 5-10 minutes in cars. Both of these missions should be done in invite only lobbies to minimize risk, the best part of these missions is there are no loading screens unlike in contact missions.
Headhunter – 4 enemies will spawn around either the city or the county depending where you are (always be in the city when starting this) 2 of them are always in some lightly armoured cars and 2 are stationary in a few set locations in which they vary each time the mission starts. Your first step is to kill the 2 drivers first in case they go too far, the best way to do this is to shoot them from the back glass, just kill the driver and drive off. You will want to be fast and accurate with this because the NPCs essentially have aimbot. (Don’t worry if you have a kuruma or dod however because they can barely penetrate your armor.). Once the drivers are dealt with then you can deal with the stationary targets. In every location in the city the kuruma can be used even indoors. If you don’t have a kuruma you should go on foot use walls as cover to you advantage and quickly kill the target with a headshot and GTFO.
Sightseer – Easiest 23k you will ever make, all you have to do is do the hacking minigame on your phone, fly or drive to the briefcase pick it up and do that 2 more times after then you get the money. Super easy no threats unless you are in a public lobby. I suggest driving to the pegasus docks or LSIA and stealing the helicopter that spawns there, there’s always a helicopter that spawns in these 2 locations (and more) and they should be used to complete the mission within 7 minutes or so.)
Doing these 2 back to back will net you over 100k-200k per hour which still believe it or not is chump change but much better results than contact missions. Depending on which route your taking you can either beeline it to the CEO office which really shouldn’t be too hard if you did the flight school and revolver event for an extra 500k or so. Or if you don’t own the dukes of death or kuruma you can get that to do these missions more efficiently to get the CEO office easily and not suffer from npcs for the rest of your GTA experience. Or you can beeline to a 1.8 million dollar buzzard, reasoning below. (I don’t recommend beelining the buzzard yet.)
Recommended Purchases:

  • The kuruma if you don’t have a dukes of death from being a returning player.
  • This isn’t really recommended at this stage but if you are comfortable with the extra grinding then a buzzard to make VIP missions much easier and far less tedious. And overall make your GTA life less tedious when travelling.
  • If you are ranked high enough an AP pistol is far more accurate than the micro SMG and can have a bigger mag, this is a must have if you use the kuruma a lot.
  • Don’t buy a high end apartment, this guide is tailored to solo players and heists are really a waste of time if you rely on randoms even with the discount on the kuruma.
  • At the end of the day it’s all about saving your way to the top and not wasting money on what you don’t need. When purchasing things you should always think (for now) how will this purchase make me more money? Don’t purchase guns and vehicles you won’t use to your advantage.

Stage 3: President of a (Legal) Business
At this stage it is expected you purchased a CEO office. (Ideally the cheapest one with NO upgrades whatsoever.) and a kuruma (unless you have a dukes of death).
Goals for this stage – There are more paths you can take when doing this stage so again you can branch off. You should end up finishing all of these goals by the end of this stage.

  1. Buy a vehicle warehouse. The vehicle warehouse is (arguably) the most profitable and lowest risk way of making money, but the startup is super expensive for what you earn at this point with the lowest vehicle warehouse costing 1.5 million and still being in a terrible location.
  2. Buy a small cargo warehouse and work your way up to owning only a medium and a large. Cargo is also a great way to make money with a very high risk but great return once set up right. 
  3. Buy a buzzard 1.8 million is a very steep price for what you are earning right now but it makes doing both 1 and 2 so much easier and faster and in GTA time is money.
  4. (This should only be done when 1 or 2  has been completed.) Save up for the money required for stage 5 which can be found in stage 5.

This stage is a very important stage and also where you will be earning money to make passive money while you make money directly from the outcome of completing this I know quite the tongue twister. 
Cargo Warehouse
Cargo is essentially spending money to make more money, you can buy crates one at a time or two or three at a time. Typically three is great when you own a buzzard while two is good when you own only a kuruma. You spend up to $18,000 for a set of three crates and they sell for a base amount per crate plus they get a bonus if you have more crates, (ex. you would get more money for selling a full small warehouse of 16 crates than 14 crates because each consecutive crate adds a bonus for the more crates you have.)
Small Warehouse (Recommended)
The cheapest small cargo warehouse is $250,000. (Which you can make doing VIP missions easy.)
Personally I would buy the cheapest small cargo warehouse and complete full warehouse sales using my kuruma making 240k per full sale, typically you want to run sightseer and headhunter in between buy missions to reduce the cooldown and counter and losses from buying the crates. You can usually fill the small warehouse in about a little over an hour in a kuruma, in an hour if in a buzzard.
You can either spend all profits you make from the small warehouse on a buzzard or a medium warehouse if you don’t mind the crates or a vehicle warehouse if you despise the crates. If you went with the third option and despise crates, lucky you because the vehicle warehouse is nothing like it and can make more money for less effort.
Medium & Small Warehouse (Optional)
Now if you don’t mind crate missions and want to make even more money you should spend your money on the Derriere Lingerie medium warehouse location, you should keep your small warehouse too. Once you own this you can either alternate between medium warehouse crate missions and the small warehouse crate missions making even more money per hour or you can continue doing VIP missions in between medium crate missions to alleviate the losses. A full medium warehouse sale grosses you 735k for around 4 hours of work or less. At this point or before you should purchase a buzzard because making 1.8 mil really isn’t that hard and will get even easier with the buzzard.
Large & Medium Warehouse (Optional)
Finally you want to purchase the large warehouse west vinewood backlot and trade in your old small warehouse for it because you won’t be using it anymore, this should deduct the price of the large warehouse by about 100k-200k. Next you are going to do the same thing as before and alternate between large and medium buy missions buying 3 at a time, since you have the buzzard these missions should be a piece of cake. The profit you gain after filling the large warehouse should be around 2.2 million gross and you should be able to sell the medium warehouse at least twice making you $1,470,000 gross from the medium warehouse alone. Combined you should earn around 3.65 million gross every 7 or 8 hours which is massive profit enough to buy almost any super car.
After accomplishing setting up your warehouse cycle one of the most profitable but boring things in the entire game you can either buy a vehicle warehouse to vary it up a little or move on to the next stage if somehow you still don’t mind grinding these damned crates.
Vehicle Warehouse (Near Essential)
The vehicle warehouse is my personal favorite but also the most expensive thing in this stage for making money upon beginning this stage. The cheapest vehicle warehouse is 1.5 million, which if making this money using the small warehouse I would just go for the cheapest one if you are making this money after completing the cargo section of this stage then you can go for whatever one you want the only difference is location, I suggest the LSIA location due to its big landing area, manageable price and access to the highway.
Upon purchasing the cheapest warehouse you should be damned near broke and the setup for the vehicle warehouse is essential to maximise profits, make sure you stay broke (broke meaning 100k or less) so you can get to $0 easily, which is ironic because this is a money making guide. Another method is swapping characters and putting all your money in the secondary character so it appears you are broke on the character you are grinding vehicle source missions with. The reasoning for this is that you want to fill up your entire vehicle warehouse with every top, mid and standard range vehicle you can get, (which is one per make). I would also suggest making sure even the mid and standards are the collection vehicles but don’t sell them if they aren’t because you can only own one variant of a certain vehicle no more than one at the same time. Once you have your warehouse filled with every different vehicle you can choose a preferred top range vehicle, (preferably fast and reliable) and sell that, every time you source a new vehicle it will be the vehicle you just sold. This guarantees you make 80k per sell. If you are broke when mass sourcing these vehicles any repair fees will be deducted from your mechanic not you meaning you don’t need to pay for repair fees wasting money. Once you have the top range system setup then you can actually start making real money.
Once setup, simply follow these steps:

  1. Start a headhunter
  2. Source the car. (Which if done right will always be the one car you are lacking.)
  3. Start a Sightseer
  4. Sell the car.

This “i/e wave method” can be done in about 30 minutes making you around 240k per hour, the source missions change a lot when you do them so you can get a variety of missions and it is quite fun test driving the cars of your choice while making a lot of money.
Once you have the wave system down you can do one of two things:

  1. Proceed to the next stage skipping doing any more cargo.
  2. Give cargo a second try and use money earned along with the buzzard to make more money changing things up from time to time. Then proceeding to the next stage.

Recommended Purchases:

  • If going down the cargo path then buying upgrades for the warehouse is essential, they may be pricey but can save your life and time.
  • If going down the I/E path then buying a cargobob is essential, the amount of time and money you save from ensuring the vehicle you source is damage free is mind blowing. You also avoid the pesky NPCs when in a solo public session.
  • I’ll keep mentioning this even further but the buzzard is essential no matter what you do! You can spawn it like a personal vehicle and save time to earn more money to the hour!

Stage 4: Diversify your Business Portfolio (Also known as passive income)
The previous stage once set up perfectly is the number one way to make money directly doing work but it’s always nice after grinding to enjoy yourself while still making money or making more money while grinding! This stage requires you have at least $1,650,000 for the Chumash bunker (Which is the best bunker for its location.) or $1,175,000 for the cheapest MC clubhouse alongside the cheapest cocaine lockup located in sandy shores. Although I would recommend saving up for 2.5 million for bunker due to upgrade and around 1.7 million for mc businesses. If you are willing to grind enough from previous you should really just save up for the location you desire preferably a cocaine lockup in the city, and the mc clubhouse has no direct difference per location since you will barely go there. Bunkers of course should all be in chumash because of accessibility and cheaper price.
Like previous I will divide this stage in two parts one for MC Businesses and one for Bunkers. You can either do one, the other or both! Although I recommend going for both!
The chumash bunker costs 1.65 million which shouldn’t be too hard to get at this point. However alone without upgrades this bunker will be pretty shitty. Which is why you should save about 900k more from the bunker price because that’s how much the efficiency upgrades cost combined which also increase the price of your product. When you fill the bunker with supplies you should only buy them, because doing 5 supply missions for 1 bar of product is really a waste of time and you will be making plenty of money from direct money making and the passive money making of the bunker. When you purchase supplies your eggheads in the back will produce 1 full bar of product which is when you sell, you should always sell from external connections to make more money. The reason you only sell for 1 bar is because 1. You don’t get a bonus for selling more than less, it’s all worth the same amount per bar of guns. 2. It is impossible to reliably deliver more than 1 vehicles worth of guns in a 15 minute timer you should only sell more than 1 if you have friends helping. The bunker is much easier to understand once you complete the setup mission bought the upgrade and have them making guns you should set the focus to manufacture only, you can either change it or fast track it all later.
The bunker with upgrades should sell for $210,000 when selling further out and take around 2 hours and 20 minutes to fill. Of course you should not solely rely on this to make money you should be doing either crates or I/E in the background. Read near the bottom of the stage for a mixed example of making a whopping 804k in only 2 hours and 30 minutes. 
MC Businesses
The MC Businesses are much like the bunker but you can actually sell more vehicles worth of product solo due to the 30 minute timer instead of 15 but much like the bunker you get no extra bonus for selling a full stock compared to 1 bar. The first MC business you should invest in is the cocaine lockup, you can get the cheapest one but it is recommended to get the one inner city which costs a whopping 1.8 million excluding upgrades but is much more accessible and you will end up doing sell missions outside of the city which is very handy. After purchasing the lockup you should purchase both efficiency upgrades costing around 1.2 million in total but is worth it as it increases the speed and price you sell your product at. The idea much like the bunker is you should only purchase supplies and sell far away which for a full lockup will sell for $420,000 and take about 5 hours to fill it up completely while restocking, you can treat this like the bunker and sell only at 1 bar. You can read below how following a specific process you can net in over 800k per 2 hours and 30 minutes using this alongside the bunker.
Making Real Money Using a Mixture of Both
One of the best cycles you can have setup once you have purchased a cocaine lockup, a bunker and fully upgraded them is in this exact order:

Buy Bunker Supplies
Buy Coke Supplies
Source I/E Vehicle
Sell I/E Vehicle
Sell Coke
Sell Guns

This simple cycle is assuming you do not stop at all will earn you 804k NET PROFIT. You can actually do whatever you want between the 2 hours and 5 minutes but it is most efficient to do a variation of the I/E wave. If you have crates you can do crates.
Recommended Purchases:

  • At this point you somehow went without buying a buzzard BUY IT! Especially with the money you have been making from the previous stage AND this stage!
  • Things like homing launchers and other weapons you possibly don’t have are useful on the sell missions for gun running.
  • Upgrades excluding security upgrade are required to make the most profit.

I will now mention some cool things you can purchase and general tips & tricks:

  • Buying a smugglers run hangar is not profitable whatsoever and shouldn’t be purchased for that purpose. You should purchase it when you want to, it’s great for spicing up gameplay, wasting money, getting big discounts on some cool planes.
  • You of course should by now purchase whatever high end apartment you want if you haven’t already.
  • You can buy a CEO garage with a capacity of 20-60 cars if you want to splurge.
  • You can buy the doomsday facility, the reason it wasn’t mentioned in this guide is it like heists requires a crew and this guide is oriented towards solo players. If you can get a crew together it’s very fun and profitable.
  • The yacht should be purchased last but at this point buy what you want, it has no real functional value other than being a cool looking glorified apartment.
  • There is a lot of cool vehicles you can buy like the deluxo for example or oppressor. These vehicles shouldn’t be too hard of a grind anymore with the money you are making.
  • If you want to skip all research in the bunker and focus on manufacture it costs a total of $10,125,000 to fast track every single research which can be useful for the explosive rounds, vehicle mods.
  • Don’t buy an MOC unless you really want one you should buy an avenger for weapon and special vehicle customization.
  • You can buy some lowriders too which are very nice looking vehicles.

At this point there is nothing you can’t buy without a few hours of easy laid back work. Even if you want to just use passive income alone you are still making money while doing whatever you want! Just remember when you see a newbie out there grinding away at VIP missions in the Elegy RH8 you were probably once there!
Useful links where I got some of the numbers and information:
Gun Running information and cycle:
MC Businesses:
CEO Business:
General Things: – I based a lot of this information off of the stuff I learned from gamesauce to props to him, great youtuber with great tips.
If I forgot sources I’ll add them as a remember them.
Thanks for reading this wall of text!
Edit #1 – Added second character method when sourcing vehicles in I/E. (Suggestion by r/thepracticalend)

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