Thanks for your post.
You should know that most landlords ( who in are fact real estate investors) are very frugal. They only spend what they have to spend to rent their properties. In this area, 67% of people rent, so there are a lot of renters.
What does this mean to you?
First, it means that the landlords know that they can rent out their properties pretty easily. A sign in the yard, post it on Craigslist, other free website (for the landlords), and they can rent them.
Second, on the tenant side, you are going to have to take responsibility to find a home. My suggestions are:
1. Drive around the area where you want to live.
2. Look online
3. Talk with a Realtor
Rent to own - in most cases sellers are not interested in what we call a "lease option". A lease option means that part of your rent (a Premium...meaning if the rent was $1400, you're paying $1600, $200 extra, in order to have the privilege or right to buy the home at a pre-determined price at a set point in the future).
Most sellers in the current market need to sell, and are not going to wait until a future point in time to sell. In other areas of the country where there is more inventory, lease options are more common.
Suggestions for you-
If you want to buy your own home, then talk with a mortgage broker. Ask them to analyze your situation - income, debt, savings, etc. Ask your CPA what the difference would be in your taxes. The Federal Income Tax code is still very favorable towards homeowners. Home ownership makes neighborhoods more stable, maintains the quality of life, that one will not have in an area where everyone rents.