I saved money for a few years by working long hours (largely because I happened to have fallen into a rather fun job caring for kids) while renting a room in a house with other people. Even though I wasn't especially frugal in every category (I would still go get spa treatments and buy way more clothes than I do now), I was in a city, so I managed to live without a car. The savings really added up, but I still didn't get quite up to the amount needed to avoid paying mortgage insurance. If I had been a little more frugal, I might have accomplished this.
I have to say, owning a house hasn't been that wonderful so far. I like my neighborhood pretty well. We moved to a fairly nice suburb, and it is really nice not to hear buses outside or worry about things being stolen. (It happened to my friends and me quite a lot in the city.) When someone offers to help me, I don't have to worry that they are going to demand to be paid for something as simple as pointing me in the right direction. (Yes, this happened to me multiple times in the city.) Still, home ownership has NOT been the money saver I had hoped.
Above all, I implore you, unless you are personally skilled in home improvement areas ranging from plumbing to drywall to electrical work, DO NOT BUY A FIXER UPPER - not even one that just needs what you see as a "little" fixing up. I had a couple of people tell me that the only way to financially benefit from buying a home (that is, the only way to sell it for more than what you bought it for a few years later) is to buy a home that needs work. Naively, I did not do the calculations or research necessary, and simply believed these people. I did do calculations that seemed to show that, over time, owners came out ahead of renters, but I was not considering the fact that maintenance costs for renters are zero, while for owners, it can be thousands of dollars per year. Does someone inspect your building's heating system now? To maintain the system you own, you will have to pay someone to do that, every year. You will also have to buy a new system if you stay in the house for very long, or possibly even if you don't. If you buy a house with poor windows, you will spend an enormous amount of money having new ones installed. You'll pay to have the gutters cleaned. You'll pay to have the drywall repaired when a leak from an upstairs bathtub or radiator comes dripping into your dining room. You'll pay to have the pipe or radiator repaired, too. I could go on forever. On top of all these necessary repairs, you'll have older relatives walk in and, though they say they like the house, add that you'll have to have an entire room remodeled before you can sell it. That will be at least $10,000. You never, ever, ever get that money back. The only home improvements that allow you to break even, never mind make a profit, are minor cosmetic ones such as painting.
I don't mean to imply that you are as naive as I was, but I really wish someone had explained these things to me. I think I'd be happy in a house that someone else had spent $50,000 or $60,000 remodeling and repairing, meaning I could cruise for at least a few years. Though that house would likely have cost a little more than my own, it wouldn't cost proportionately more compared to what the owners put into it (meaning, what I subsequently am having to do here). It's always better to sacrifice size than quality, and if you have a decent landlord, renting can be better than owning.