i bought if for $120,000 with zero down. it doubled less than 10 years later. when i left, i paid 10% (that's standard for leases greater than 6 months) of the rent for the property management company. that is also tax deductible. yes, i have dealt with a management company more than 3000 miles away, including while underwater.
if she is active duty, you can buy for no money down, literally zero. if you can only get $1200 for a $250,000 condo, then something is wrong. in ewa beach and waikiki, condos on the market for $300,000 are getting close to $2000 a month for rent. in makiki, condos for $200,000 are getting $1200 a month for rent. for a $250,000 property, you should get a minimum of $1500. craigslist is a good source for rents:
= (the townhomes in spinnaker are going for $300,000 now)
if you qualify for a low or zero down loan, it doesn't make sense to put a lot of money down. it's better to hold on to that money for other purposes, such as stocks or mutual funds (also long-term investments).
if you would like to put $1000 a month into the bank, that's great. it's safe. you'll get about 1% right now and hopefully inflation will be less than that, so you don't go backwards. the interest on that money is also taxable. it makes more sense to buy 3 or 6-month cds, however.
try this calculator and see for yourself if buying makes sense (use an appreciation rate of 6%, which means the price doubles every 12 years):
for property taxes, it will be $850 for a $250,000 home. i would use $5000 per year for maintenance costs, 2% for savings and 3% for inflation.
this is what i get:
"you would save approximately $904,337 (in today's dollars) by buying a home, rather than renting, over the 30 year timeframe you have entered." even when i raise the annual maintenance costs to $6000, or $7000, it still comes out higher.
the years that you live in a home give you the biggest tax advantage. also, if you live in it for 2 out of the previous 5 years, all of the gain is tax free.
prices are now at where they were in 2005. rates are where they were in 1975. if you want to rent, it's better for mobility, but in the long run, buying a home makes the most sense, because it is tax sheltered and will be indefinitely unless congress takes that away. saving is great, do that. buying a home is great, do that. buy some coins, buy some stocks, buy some cds. start your own business when you get really bold.
to make a long story short, i would get a furnished 1-bedroom in makiki for 6 months (or get a roommate and share a place), then decide what to do, as i originally recommended.