Tampa, Florida or Philadelphia for first time investor with little capital?

4 Replies

Hi guys just reaching out to anyone in Tampa Bay, Florida or Philadelphia area.
I've really been getting into real estate investing lately and am trying to initiate a battle plan here.

I have very little capital and this will be my first investment.I'm interested in doing an owner-occupied duplex/triplex for my very first investment or potentially partnering with someone on a flip, owner-occupied looks more realistic in my current financial situation. These are more short term goals to build up to my long term goals.

Philly:
Pros:
cost of living is dramatically better than Florida
Ummm that's about it

Cons:
Lived in Florida my entire life, dont know Philly neighborhoods at all
Not really accustomed to weather


Florida:
Pros:
Know the entire area schools, shopping districts, etc. (way simpler for me to start studying the market their)
Have plenty of friends and family to potentially help financially or invest in me
Educated in local weather, hurricanes, sink holes etc.

Cons:
Cost of living is much more expensive.
This is pretty much the only con. The cost of living will be so much more expensive very little of my income will go to my savings which will eventually be used for my first and later on investments. It will take me much longer to save that capital.


So I see Philadelphia is a "buyers" market and the Tampa Bay area is primarily a "sellers" market.
So my question is, is there any reason or advantage to either of the two cities and why you would pick that one?
Above with the pros & cons is just my personal evaluation so if anyone has any knowledge that pertains to the real estate market that would make one city better than the other please let me know.

Thanks

I could not possibly give you an unbiased opinion.

I personally do not think it is expensive to live in the Tampa area. You can find houses and apartments in all price ranges. It only matters where you want to live and what you are willing to put up with. We don't have many 2% rule properties but we have a lot of 1.5% rule properties that are just fine.

Brandon Turner posted today that Pasco and Hernando are in the top rental markets. I personally am not in love with the idea of having rentals in Holiday, but if the dollars make sense...

I have properties in Tampa and Philadelphia, and the short answer for me is Tampa.

Now for the long answer:

I'm "from Tampa" even though I never REALLY lived there. I've been living abroad for about 15 years, so I definitely don't have my pulse on the day-to-day of the areas, but I'll share what I know.

LAWS:

Florida is a MUCH more landlord friendly state. I've had to do evictions in both states, which is something you'll surely be faced with as well if you're looking at the lower priced properties. Often you can get a real steal from a tired landlord with a non-paying tenant, so the first thing you have to do is evict. (I know someone selling something like this in Tampa so PM me later if that's of interest) The Florida evictions in either Pinellas or Hillsborough Country have taken about 6 weeks, the Philly eviction took MONTHS.

However, had I know anything more about the market there I could have done a better job. I bought the house from a wholesaler and it was supposed to be empty. Then I found out that the seller's cousin was there and wanted to stay paying $800/mo. -- Super! But he never paid. My property manager didn't tell me, and my eviction lawyer didn't tell me, that you have to have a rental license to rent property in PA and I couldn't evict him without that license. VERY IMPORTANT: If you invest in PA make sure you get that license, and make sure that you take into account the $85 a year that you have to pay for it. It's small, but the little things add up.

In Tampa I found out completely by happenstance that you're also supposed to have a license, but it's certainly not required for anything and I've never been asked for it at eviction time, or any other time.

PROPERTY TAXES:

In Florida I have property in Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and in all three I find that the yearly property taxes amount to about 1 month rent, plus or minus a few bucks.

For the house in PA, which is just just outside Philly proper, I'm paying 2K+ on a 34K house. This is nearly 3 months of the rent. The returns there are still good, but nowhere near what they would be without the outrageous taxes. That being said, the taxes in Philly proper are lower, but it's definitely something to be careful with.

INCOME TAXES:

Believe it or not, I didn't think about state income taxes when I bought that PA house. Now that I have one property there, I have to fill out a tax return for PA and pay taxes to the state, even though I don't live there. When you live there, they'll take a little chunk of your income, and more importantly, a chunk of your time doing the PA taxes.

WEAR AND TEAR ON THE HOUSE:

My stairs froze off my PA house this winter. What? Yes, that's right. Apparently there was a crack in the cement on the porch steps and the water got in and froze, then the steps fell off. This doesn't happen in Tampa. You really have to winterize the houses up north, which is another hidden expense.

WINTER BLUES:

Whether it's true or not, I'm not sure, but my PM told me he couldn't rent a house to save his life for about 3 months of this winter. It was a particularly hard winter and no one was out and about, and no one wanted to move. That's great if you've already got good tenants, not so great if you're looking for tenants.

COST OF LIVING:

Even if the cost of living looks lower there, which I've never explored, if you need to buy a second set of clothes for the winter months, then you haven't saved that much money. I'm living in Switzerland now, and I can tell you that the fall jacket, the winter jacket, the rain boots the snow boots, gloves, scarves, etc. REALLY add up. You look young in your photo, and don't mention any kids, but they'll come eventually and if you are buying a new set of everything for 2-3 kids every single year, it really eats into the budget. In Florida you have the same set of clothes more or less year round and can save literally thousands.

Hopefully that'll give you a few points to think about, and if you do end up in Philly, you'll make a better start of it than I did!


Originally posted by @Doug Merriott :
I could not possibly give you an unbiased opinion.

I personally do not think it is expensive to live in the Tampa area. You can find houses and apartments in all price ranges. It only matters where you want to live and what you are willing to put up with. We don't have many 2% rule properties but we have a lot of 1.5% rule properties that are just fine.

Brandon Turner posted today that Pasco and Hernando are in the top rental markets. I personally am not in love with the idea of having rentals in Holiday, but if the dollars make sense...

Yea I agree, those numbers are probably coming from east Pasco (Land O Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Trinity etc)

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