I was a long distance landlord with a property in northern CA. I used a property management company for about 6 months out of the 13 years. Property management companies suck. I only made it as long as I did because I had a handyman neighbor to help out with stuff.
Read the recommended books and go visit the Mr. Landlord Question and Answer discussion board http://bbs2.mrlandlord.com/
. This will give you insight into the crazy crap landlords deal with on a daily basis and ensure you are going into this with your eyes (and wallet) open.