So, instead of giving up, I asked myself how to get around this problem.
By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination. - Christopher Columbus
My answer was to invest elsewhere - and take on a partner local to wherever the investment is located. Doing so also allows me to use NYC dollars (where the cost of living is higher, but so too are the salaries) an invest in a middle-America area.
I looked at investing in Louisville, KY where I have a cousin who would surely help me out, though I am not sure what her investment objectives and/or desire are to get involved in rental properties.
I went through my list of friends and associates and thought about what their interest might be. But ultimately - currently anyway - I decided to approach my wife's brother who had talked with me in the past about investing in real estate. He lives in eastern Nebraska and so both Lincoln and Omaha would be viable candidates for investing.
And I think that our partnership would be complementary, which is nice. I can locate the properties through agents and online, draw up all of the leases and other documents, direct the leasing efforts, do the bookkeeping and basically provide the know-how. He is local and can be the eyes on the ground, direct the rehab efforts and be a local contact for leasing and for any tenant issue or maintenance. We'll either go 50-50 if we're both putting in the same about of capital or adjust the economics if he decides to put in less (we have yet to figure that part out).
Regardless, we'll have to make sure that the understandings are in writing and clear to both parties, so there is no misunderstandings or hurt feelings if something goes wrong.