Newbie searching for a unique market (college towns)

20 Replies

Hello everyone - New to BP and very interested to explore the site.  I have been considering jumping into real estate for a few years and I figured what better time than when the market is absurd.  I like a challenge. 

My background is in art and design and I'm currently looking to relocate to a new market depending on where I find my next teaching job, as I've recently finished graduate school, have taught for a major university, and want to find a more affordable market now.  (Currently located in California.)  I am skilled in rough and finish carpentry, drywall, electrical, interior design and light architectural renovations having spent my career in design/build, theater/film sets, and also assisting friends with small home design projects.  My interest as an investor is in flipping (live-in flips) and house-hacking duplex-to-fourplex properties (whichever comes first I suppose.)  I am eager to find an ugly duckling that I can use some design expertise and years of frugal fix-it knowledge to improve for low cost, high quality, with lots of sweat equity.

Here's the thing.  I am in a position to move anywhere in the country to continue my academic career.  There's two scenarios:

1.  Hired full-time for a faculty position at a university and move wherever that is.  (Waiting on a few potential outcomes here.)

2.  Not be hired full-time (the most likely scenario, unfortunately) and CHOOSE where to move in order to relentlessly apply for adjunct/part-time teaching jobs at colleges/universities in the area. 

I may post this in another forum as well, but here's the big question:

If you could move ANYWHERE in the country right now, where would you suggest?  Want to a market that fits the following criteria=

- Must have a handful of colleges/universities with creative arts departments, within two hours drive.  (any type - Public, Private, Trade schools, Community Colleges etc)

- NOT one of the super in-demand markets (think LA, SF, Denver, Austin, etc) so it will have fixer-upper starter properties in the 75-200k range

- A market with good chance of future economic success in terms of local employers, especially in tech, renewable energy, entertainment, manufacturing, etc

- Not the most crucial, but:  kind of a fun place to live!   Live music, museums, outdoor stuff to do (hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc)

------ thanks for any insights! -----

Incidentally, I won't be buying anything in the super near term, and will likely need to rent for a while first.  I am lucky to have a potential partner who will help get a loan since I don't look super attractive to a lender on paper at this point.  I have enough in the bank for a decent down payment and rehab costs for my first place, which is safely parked and waiting to get this adventure going. 

Nice to meet you! 

Hey @Justin Goldwater !

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Good luck,

@Justin Goldwater Dude, at first, I thinking: "This guy is totally describing Denver," until I got to your second condition. My immediate next thought was: what about Colorado Springs? Ok, to be honest, that markets is just as competitive and no longer falls in your target price. To be honest, I think you will be hard-pressed to find the city you describe: Fun place to live, healthy economy and increasing job prospects, strong University system, and cheap starter homes. That is what every person is looking for, let alone every investor.

But, I'll do my best. Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Look to the midwest and the NE. I'm thinking the rust belt cities like Columbus, OH or Cincinnati or the colder New England states like Maine and Vermont. Will that fall in your price target? I'll leave that question to the local real estate experts.

2) I do think you're starting with the RIGHT question: Where do I want to live?, especially with the freedom it sounds like you have now. Take advantage of this opportunity, because will always be opportunities to invest, but time is the one true finite resource. In my perspective, that's what this REI journey is all about: How can I live the life I truly want to live?

*Also, BP tip, other uses have certain keywords flagged, like "Burlington," which will draw attention from those local experts. My post will likely draw some attention for you from the places I suggested above, but if you want more specific markets, add those to your post!

I would recommend checking out the Carolinas. Both these states have many benefits like lower taxes, landlord friendly, beaches and mountains. A lot of big businesses are already in or are moving to Charlotte and Raleigh so any smaller towns adjacent to these are rapidly growing. Also, there are a ton of universities (in NC especially) that you could work for. I am from Greensboro and there are some homes that are in your price range, as well as 8 nearby colleges.

Welcome to BP @Justin Goldwater ! I love the picture you have for your investment and how well you painted it as well.  Just like @Chris Freeburg , I thought "Wow! This sounds like Denver or Austin" - great schools, live music and attractions, promising future, etc.  But, if we're avoiding those HOT markets... You may need to narrow some of the search criteria down: great schools, great economy, but the market isn't hot yet? All those other aspects are what can make a market so hot. Something that came to mind for me is the San Antonio area - it's not a terribly far drive from other major metropolitan areas, has several universities within and around it, and has a lively culture.  There would definitely be some fixer-uppers that need some love, but every market will have at least have *some*, it just depends on how many and for how much.

Columbus, Ohio is a perfect market. With Ohio State University, as well as numerous other small private/state colleges located in the cities you can choose which sub-market you want to invest in. Lots of college housing is renting for $500-600/mo/bed. You'll have 11.5 month leases and normally annual turnover at the end of July.


Originally posted by @Chris Freeburg :

@Justin Goldwater Dude, at first, I thinking: "This guy is totally describing Denver," until I got to your second condition. My immediate next thought was: what about Colorado Springs?

Thank you for your reply!  I'd be lying if I said Colorado Springs / Denver / Boulder wasn't very high on my list.  When I started to form this plan last year (pre Covid) I knew the market there was pricey, but it's gotten kind of ridiculous since then so I've shifted my attention for sure.  But it would still work for so many reasons - just means waiting a little longer and saving more $$$ I think.  Thanks for fueling my confirmation bias! :)

And thank you for the other suggestions.  I will be ramping up my research as travel feels more normal and I can get to some of these places early to mid-summer once I'm not teaching.... might even do a multi-state motorcycle trip and visit as many possible areas as I can, so I really appreciate your suggestions.  

Originally posted by @Hallie Simpson :

I would recommend checking out the Carolinas.

Thank you Hallie!  Great suggestion!  I have applied for jobs teaching in North Carolina before. There really are a lot of good schools. I've had friends both from there and who have moved there over the years (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Asheville (of course) and it's always sounded pretty amazing to me.  I really appreciate your reply.

 

Originally posted by @Justin Goldwater :
Originally posted by @Marc Rice:

Columbus, Ohio is a perfect market.

Thank you Marc - I've heard great things about Columbus.  The midwest is full of potential - it's almost hard to choose a central location but I'll do some more research on Columbus for sure.  

 Columbus, Ohio is as central as you can get. That is why Amazon and all of the other tech companies are moving here.

@Justin Goldwater @Justin Goldwater welcome to BP, Justin! I am a new investor/agent as well and live in the Greater Cincinnati area.

I would agree with the others commenting on the cities in the Midwest. An area I would consider looking into is Northern Kentucky. Cities like Covington, Latonia, Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton are low cost, only minutes away from downtown Cincinnati and are spots where a lot of people are renting for the short commute to Cincinnati. It’s also very close to the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University so there are options that are close to the campuses.

I have heard a lot of great things about Columbus as well. I have been there a handful of times and I personally do like that city a lot. I haven’t worked with investors or lived there before so my knowledge on that market is small. But, I have heard great things across BP about that market.

One thing I personally love the most about Cincinnati is that it’s right in the middle of a lot of big cities. You have Indianapolis and Columbus both 2 hours away, and you have Lexington KY and Louisville KY (both big college towns) that are only an hour away.

Good luck on your future endeavors!!

@Justin Goldwater

Welcome!

Cincinnati all the way!

Within the city you have University of Cincinnati, with one of the best art schools in the nation, and Xavier University.

The properties also meet all your criteria. You could easily find a great live and flip for less than 200k.

If you have questions please reach out!

Thanks!

You might want to look just west of Asheville, NC.  Western Carolina University is growing, it is a beautiful part of the country, the Asheville vibe is spreading in that direction, and there are still fixer uppers available.  

@Justin Goldwater

Maine is a great place for all that and Portland offers much of what you described. You’d prolly be looking either east of Portland or north/northwest for the affordability factor. If those prices are still too expensive for you then I’d steer you northward to towns outside of Bangor or Waterville . Lots of cheap houses needing help, waterfront camps too. Trade off slightly will be the culture aspect but Bangor is still very cool. Good luck!!

Originally posted by @Erika Ewers :

@Justin Goldwater

Maine is a great place for all that and Portland offers much of what you described.

Thanks for the reply Erika.  I really need to look into Maine.  I've spent a little time in the mid-coast area (Camden, Belfast) but haven't spent much time in Portland.  I did love the landscape and there's so many unique historical buildings.  I wonder if I'd be out of my element in terms of fixing up something built in the 1700s but man what a challenge that would be. :{)

(that little emoji has a mustache that I associate with Mainers for some reason...)

Thank you again for your reply

 

Originally posted by @Michael Tierney :

You might want to look just west of Asheville, NC.  Western Carolina University is growing, it is a beautiful part of the country, the Asheville vibe is spreading in that direction, and there are still fixer uppers available.  

Awesome - yes, thank you - North Carolina is rapidly moving up my list!

 

Originally posted by @Brett Slusher :
I would agree with the others commenting on the cities in the Midwest. An area I would consider looking into is Northern Kentucky. Cities like Covington, Latonia, Newport, Bellevue, and Dayton are low cost, only minutes away from downtown Cincinnati and are spots where a lot of people are renting for the short commute to Cincinnati. It’s also very close to the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University so there are options that are close to the campuses.

Thanks for your reply Brett, I loved Louisville from my brief encounter (I just went once on a weird road trip to go to Churchill Downs- not for the Derby, but just to soak up the history and go to a couple races.)

I'll do a deep dive into the cities you're mentioning and also Cincinnati of course - lots of love for Cincinnati it seems! 

Thanks again

Originally posted by @Justin Goldwater :

Hello everyone - New to BP and very interested to explore the site.  I have been considering jumping into real estate for a few years and I figured what better time than when the market is absurd.  I like a challenge. 

My background is in art and design and I'm currently looking to relocate to a new market depending on where I find my next teaching job, as I've recently finished graduate school, have taught for a major university, and want to find a more affordable market now.  (Currently located in California.)  I am skilled in rough and finish carpentry, drywall, electrical, interior design and light architectural renovations having spent my career in design/build, theater/film sets, and also assisting friends with small home design projects.  My interest as an investor is in flipping (live-in flips) and house-hacking duplex-to-fourplex properties (whichever comes first I suppose.)  I am eager to find an ugly duckling that I can use some design expertise and years of frugal fix-it knowledge to improve for low cost, high quality, with lots of sweat equity.

Here's the thing.  I am in a position to move anywhere in the country to continue my academic career.  There's two scenarios:

1.  Hired full-time for a faculty position at a university and move wherever that is.  (Waiting on a few potential outcomes here.)

2.  Not be hired full-time (the most likely scenario, unfortunately) and CHOOSE where to move in order to relentlessly apply for adjunct/part-time teaching jobs at colleges/universities in the area. 

I may post this in another forum as well, but here's the big question:

If you could move ANYWHERE in the country right now, where would you suggest?  Want to a market that fits the following criteria=

- Must have a handful of colleges/universities with creative arts departments, within two hours drive.  (any type - Public, Private, Trade schools, Community Colleges etc)

- NOT one of the super in-demand markets (think LA, SF, Denver, Austin, etc) so it will have fixer-upper starter properties in the 75-200k range

- A market with good chance of future economic success in terms of local employers, especially in tech, renewable energy, entertainment, manufacturing, etc

- Not the most crucial, but:  kind of a fun place to live!   Live music, museums, outdoor stuff to do (hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, etc)

------ thanks for any insights! -----

Incidentally, I won't be buying anything in the super near term, and will likely need to rent for a while first.  I am lucky to have a potential partner who will help get a loan since I don't look super attractive to a lender on paper at this point.  I have enough in the bank for a decent down payment and rehab costs for my first place, which is safely parked and waiting to get this adventure going. 

Nice to meet you! 

Justin, glad you joined!

 

To add on to Kerry Noble's post - inside the city of Indianapolis, we have Butler, Marian, Univ of Indy, IUPUI, Ivy Tech, then within an hour IU, Purdue, Ball State, and ISU.  All with affordable housing and great job growth.

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