Until now, a mortgage has not been comparable to rent for me at all. I lived with ex for 5 years and didn't pay rent, and before that lived with another ex and rent was much less and shared between us. Now though, the amount of rent I'm paying I should be paying off a loan! Thge problem is, where a little house around here could be picked up for $275k 5 years ago, there's now nothing below $400. I would want capital gain and I'm not sure the market can get too much higher at this point (?). I don't like units as investments either). The lower end of the market is also the toughest to get into, depends where you live I guess, but I could only afford a property in an area where there's no work in my field :/
Also, there's lots of other fees associated with home ownership, but not rent: rates, body corporate (if applicable), landlords insurance, other insurances, repairs and maintenance, management fees.
I almost bought a property with my ex years back (second property for ex) - we had the deposit down but I pulled out at the last minute. I hated my job back then and didn't want to be tied to it forever. The property is now worth double!
PS. If I had have had a mortgage when I had DS I would have had to return to work much sooner... Espec if I had only been making the minimum repayments. As it is I had almost 2 years off after he was born. Yes there's always the option to sell if you need to, but selling a property within a short period after buying it (5 yrs or so if memory serves) you almost always end up worse off financially after costs etc. property is a long-term commient for investment purposes. There's lots to consider.