First Apartment Deal: Atlanta (I know) vs. Philly (Nearby) ?

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I'm looking to begin investing in Multifamily Units.  I have been in Atlanta, GA for the past 7 years. I owned a business there as well as rented and bought several homes in the Midtown Atlanta area.  I have an affinity of Atlanta and I know it well through the lens of a business person (I'm familiar with the surrounding markets from when I was looking to expand my business) 

But... we had to relocate a year and half ago for my husband's job in NYC.  His family has invested in Residential Income Property in Philly for two generations but not specifically large apartment complexes.  I've been a few times and it's easy for me to get down in about 1 1/2 hours from the city. 

So... as I begin to look into investing I want to buy big enough to justify a property management company.  I hope to buy 15-40 units for my first deal.  Yet I know that even with a property management company I need to be able to be there especially for my first deal.  Yet... I know the value of knowing your market. 

So my question to you all is based on this is it better to buy in the market that you are familiar but faraway from or is it better to be nearby but not as familiar for that first deal?  


My suggestion is research research research! If you are comfortable with the area then go for it. Everything new becomes old after time. At the end of the day cash is king. If numbers are there and your game plan is solid step up. Your property must cash flow now if you are getting conventional funding. 

By the way I'm in the city across from Penn Station.