If financing did not exist, how and where would you invest $100k in cash?
Buy 1 property worth $100K? if so, in which market ? why ?
or buy 2 properties worth $50K each? which market? why ?
I would passively invest in an apartment syndication while I worked on my education with the goal of eventually buying my own deals or starting my own syndication business.
That's a difficult question to answer without understanding your current financial situation and risk tolerance. But, if you purchase one or two properties, you are going to have significant market exposure risk and specific property risk no matter where you choose. And $100,000 doesn't go very far in most markets without any financing. It may make much more sense for you to put the money into a diversified fund (i.e. syndication/crowdfunding). You could pick a fund that might diversify you into a couple hundred properties across the country. If you're looking for additional safety, you could even split some of it to be invested into conservatively underwritten debt, so that if things go badly you can foreclose and recover some or all of your principal.