One of the best places to start finding real estate deals is by looking at cheap investor houses. In most towns cheap houses like these can be found in decent working class neighborhoods.
Look for an area that has plenty of lower priced homes but that is not in a war zone. The measure that I use is that you and your contractors need to feel safe while you're in the area. If you're concerned about your welfare or safety then you need to find a better area.
If you want to keep your costs down then it makes sense to use some of the proven cheap house finding methods. Putting up bandit signs (making sure that you follow all your local ordinances), or having "I Buy Houses" flyers delivered door to door is a great place to get started.
If you walk the neighborhoods yourself in the beginning you'll get a better understanding of the area and maybe even meet a few sellers in person that you can connect with, who knows, maybe you could even buy their house.
I'm partial to the free cheap house finder tool that you can find at www.cheaphousefinder.com One reason that I like this tool is because we created it. The other reason is that it's free and it finds cheap investor houses that you can't find in the MLS.
This is basic stuff here but I've found over the years that sometimes the simplest things make the most sense.