Both Paul and Monica make great points.
One thing about buying real estate or stock or whatever other investments - they are mostly hindsight - it is very difficult to time the market and you will never really know when is the height of the market or the lowest point of the market.
The good thing about houses is that they are real estate - meaning that they are something you can hold on to and eventually profit from it if not immediately. Supply and demand is what drive evereything along with other external influences (such as the lending industry woe). There is only so much land that can be build on and the housing price will go up, especially since you will be there for 8 to 10 years.
From your question, sounds like you want to settle down but worry about it because of your friends' advise. Your friends might have good intentions adn want to give you advise thinking they are trying to help, but they are not YOU. YOU have your own needs and wants and your own long term plan.
I rented many times before due to my husband''s job assignments (we moved every two years). I could not wait to settle down, get a house of my owne, be able to decorate, paint, upgrade, plant trees/flowers that I like, basically, I wanted to have a home of my own; and that means a lot!
As you sais you'd pay minimum $30,000 a year to somebody else without the advantage of tax write offl. In the mean time you will be paying down the principle of the house and builing equity.
I think your best bet is to find the best value in the best location you can afford.
Try not to buy the most expensive house on the block (or the comparable area) but one that have potential to grow easily. If you are willing, a house that has great floor floor plan, potention for expantion if needed, and something might need upgrade which you can do when time is right. As this is the buyers market, don't be shy to negotiate if you and your Realtor think it is justifiable for the area.
When you get your loan, make sure it does not have prepayment penalty. If the rate is great then lock it in.
Take your time to find the right house, then enjoy your own home.