Great response from Philip.
I would add you may choose to work with a mulit-dimensional real estate professional who has extensive connection with the investor market. Securing a home before it is advertised for rent has real benefits.
These agents will not seek you, but you will need to pick up the phone and call them.
They have resources that may prove incredibly beneficial to you in the long term.
Now, your note clearly indicates you recognize the need to have a good credit history. Today is a good day to start on that.
Identify a bank near you who has a history of investing locally through home mortgages and small business loans. Meet with the lending officer and enroll in their credit recovery program. When you have completed the process, be loyal and get your mortgage through them.
Find an "A" or "B" graded bank near you on:
Best of success to you.