Renting allows you to be more flexible in 5 different areas: Job/career, family growth, change in relationship status, financial situations and overall happiness with your surroundings. If there is going to be any kind of flux in any of those categories, renting is likely going to be a better choice for you.
Job/Career: If you are looking for a promotion or to advance in your career via job or location change, you want to have the ability to move in 30 days notice. Renting gives you that luxury and also protects you from having to sell a home that may not be valued at the price you paid for it, not to mention that you'll incur thousands of dollars of closing costs - and that’s IF you can sell it in today's tight market.
Family growth: If you are planning on growing your family and upsizing…or shrinking your family by downsizing, you need flexibilty. Again, in today's marketplace, selling a house can put you in the red and be very costly. Renting allows to easily expand to accommodate that newborn or without the stress of buying or selling.
Change in relationship: It may be all love and kisses now, but with an unstable relationship or potential divorce, renting may be a better option until you're sure your relationship is solid. You don’t want that change on your Facbook status to force you to put both you and your house on the market at the same time!
Financial Situation: In today's economy, financial situations can change overnight. Whether it's losing a job, falling into poor health or a sudden, drastic change in income – renting allows you to weather those storms with more flexibility. It's much easier to quickly downsize than to quickly sell a home out of financial desperation.
Overall Happiness with Your Surroundings: Renting allows you try out a few neighborhoods before you make a long-term commitment to just one. You might think you're going to love a new neighborhood, but if later realize you that it's just not quite right, it's harder to move if you own your home. Additionally, purchasing a home puts you in the vulnerable position to be stuck with the arrival of the "neighbors from hell." It's an enormous upheaval for you if you have to sell because your next door neighbors have just moved in with a travel trailer parked in the front yard and four barking rottweilers. If you're a renter, your next door neighbors late night noises can be easily addressed with a complaint to the landlord or a move to another place.
Home buying often leaves buyers cash poor after they dip into their savings and even their emergency funds to come up with the down payment and closing costs. In today's economy, you want to make sure you're never overextended or stuck feeling 'stuck.' Renting allows you to keep more cash in the bank for a rainy day and be upwardly mobile for any of the reasons I mentioned above.
My overall advice on this entire topic is if you foresee a move for any of these reasons between now and the next 5 years, renting is a better option for you.