Here's a link sent to me from a regular reader (thanks Dan) for an interesting rent vs. buy tool. It's an oldie but a goodie from the New York Times.
I then proceeded in my email response to wax about all the tangibles and intangibles of owning; and why I personally can't imagine renting ever... after all these years owning places.
From a "starting out" point of view, I can see why it's hard for many lifetime renters to see any financial benefit of owning. This can be true in short to even medium ownership spans. But owning a place brings other benefits and lessons to the table... and some of us actually get a little kick financially too.
(Photo taken while riding my bike, no hands, down North Winchester in Ravenswood).