NOMAD - you should always buy your own place, period! Every person should strive to own their own home, this cannot be denied by anyone on this forum. But here is my own 2c worth, your home is not strictly an investment, it is your home. You cannot cash it in, you don't get dividends or yields. But, you get capital appreciation, and eventually, you won't pay rent, so it is a very very important personal asset. Don't go through life thinking your home is your investment, because it will not carry you in retirement, but it will give you the base where you can enjoy it. Saving for a deposit, well, Simon is correct.
Owning property for personal or investment reasons are two completely different animals. Owning your own house, may not be a super investment, but it is your own, and once paid off gives you the flexibility to make changes as you wish, whatever they may be. There is something special about owning your own house, but a completely personal one. Owning property as an investment can be a good investment. Location, location, location. I have made a % killing from property in Grahamstown. I just wish I bought many more, but being a poor starter worker I couldn't afford it. Key things are, I bought at the right time and I didn't overpay and I have trustworthy tenants. Buying property as an investment certainly gives you access to cash that you might not have, which if you are savvy you can get someone else to pay off for you. Yes you might get a better return on the JSE, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of diversification. I am very happy with my property as an investment. The big negative for me is that with property, you are always going to pay something, whether annual rates and taxes or maintenance, and the income you might receive is income taxable.
Partridge has some good advice, see below Re:Rent vs Sell by partridge on 10 Jul 11:45 On the corner of Sandton and Rivonia there is a guy who sells the usual range of stuff( has a blue bulls shirt on usually) but once when I was backed up in traffic we started talking and I found him to really be a mine of information about investment in general - you can't miss him - I would seek out his advice if i were you. My comment = maybe it's best to remain a "nomad"....
However which way your reasong - if you lived in this very house, you have to reconcile the holding cost with the rent you would have had to pay over time for similar housing. The huge interset bill (+ rates + insurance + maintenance) will probably be reduced significantly. In the final analysis this house could be sold for at least R1,5 mill after the 10 year period.