Depending on the prices of homes in your area, it may be better to rent. I currently own two houses that are doing well, but we rent a house at a steal at $275 a month. Keep in mind this is rural Kansas we're talking about here. There are some calculators out there, but I would definitely weigh renting vs. owning for your area.
If you check out the thread I started here, it goes into detail about the two houses I currently own.
I would also recommend getting a good real estate agent, as mine referred me to my second house which was an absolute steal that I would not have known without her help.
I highly recommend reading the book: The Weekend Millionaire's Secrets to Investing in Real Estate: How to Become Wealthy in Your Spare Time. The title sounds cheesy, but it has step by step instructions on how to get started in real estate in your free time, as well as many forms and how to do the calculations when evaluating a deal. It has helped me quite a bit and I feel it gave me the background knowledge I needed to feel confident about my first two deals.
I wish you success in your endeavors. You will find a lot of support on here as well and people will generally tell you straight up their opinions on things. Cheers!