You'd have to compare what your housing payment would be vs. what you could pull in for rent. Deduct 15% of the annual rental amount for expenses/vacancies, etc. and figure that into your cash flow calculations. For conservative figures, assume rental rates stay the same and your HOA fees (if you buy a condo) increase. You'll probably have to put a nice sized down payment in order to cash-flow a 1-unit property, I'd estimate 20% or more.
You'll also want to consider if the condo (if you are buying a condo) permits renters, or limits it to a certain amount of renters, as you could find yourself moving out and then having to put your condo on a waiting list to be able to be rented out. If you are buying a house, that wouldn't be a concern.
Another idea is to buy a multi-unit property (2-4 units), live in the biggest unit and rent out the others, then you'll get your landlord experience under your belt while you are there on site, rather than learning while you are away. With FHA financing you can put as little as 3.5% down payment 1-4 unit properties, 3-4 unit properties require a self-sufficiency test however, details at http://www.fhaoutreach.gov/FHAHandbook/prod/infomap.asp?addr
or with using conventional financing there isn't a self-sufficiency test.
There are other items to consider I'm sure, I am not a landlord and in my opinion you'll definitely want to get opinions from one or many. You can also attend local real estate investing club meetings to talk to other people who are actively in the business. http://www.facebook.com/orangecountyinvestorsclub
meets in Tustin. I'm sure you have much more advice coming.