I would recommend getting the most house you can afford:
Talk to a Mortgage lender and ask how much home you can get for about the same as you are now paying for RENT.
This assumes that you can afford your current rent.
Actually this will lower your total output because your Income Tax will have a deduction.
Talk to your Lender and play with the figures.
Also, when your new house appreciates, you will be gaining more equity.