It takes a little homework, check out the area you would like to live, what is important in your search for your own home. What kind of activities do you require? In town you would not find a large apartment, condos, much less a single family home as you normally would further away from the city. How far do you want to commute? Ask your friends , what is their opinion and do like to live close by? How big of a mortgage do you want?
If you rent then you do not get the benefits of a homeownership, if you rent to buy the deal could cost you more money. If you are planning to buy before December 1st 2009, you can take advantage of the 1st time homebuyer program of $8000.
If you are ready to buy, but have lot's of questions it's best to sit down with a Realtor. On the other hand if buying is still some time off in the future, then I would check out the areas that appeal to you.