This excellent article does a good job of explaining why owning your own home is almost always better in the long term than renting.
It comes down to one thing: inflation. Mortgages can't adjust for inflation, while renting can. Thus while the renter faces steadily increasing rents, the owner eventually will be paying a fraction of the original real value of the mortgage. The owner starts by paying more, but eventually pays far less.
This effect takes place even without factoring in appreciation, but if you do factor in a moderate appreciation, the effect is much more pronounced. While your house's value goes up 4% a year (even though your mortgage does not), the renter's rent goes up 3%.
Combining that with the leverage of only having to own a portion of the total equity in the house and you have a near unbeatable victory for owning versus renting. If you plan on living in a place for 5 years or more, you should strongly consider owning,