Absolutely you should not let anyone in your family comment about your choice to rent. Especially in this market, especially in Florida.
We are Floridians too, I know what it is like down here. Our 1800 sq ft house has taxes of about 2,000 and insurance is about 1,700 a year. Our insurance rate is considered *good* actually...most of my friends pay 2,500-3,500 a year for their homeowners policy. We're not in a flood zone either. And, our house is a newer home...I hear insurance for the older, lower hurricane standard homes is MUCH higher. Most of the homes here have to deal with not only hurricane risk, but also sinkholes.
You're probably wondering why our taxes are so low for FL. It's because of the fact we bought our home in 99. They are capped here in FL on how much they can raise it (save our homes) each year. So while most of our neighbors who bought in the last few years pay $5500-6000 a year we pay less because we bought it when our home value was low.
However, for us, we made the right choice in home ownership. The main reason why was because we bought BEFORE the boom. We bought our home in '99...the boom here in FL really started to happen the next year. A year or two ago our home would have sold for $330,000...we paid $124,000 for ours. Even with the big drop right now (they're pricing out around $210,000 or so now) because we bought long ago and have a 15 year mortgage we still have a lot of equity.
Home ownership in FL has been WAY off from what salaries are here in FL for quite a while now. With our 15 year mortgage, taxes and insurance our payment each month is what you can afford...just about $1,200. Figure too that each year you're going to have at least 2,000-3,000 in maintenance costs. If you don't put that aside for when things break...like the a/c, appliances, roof, odds and ends (yes--kids break things too)...you'll be hit with some rather unexpected bills. And some years there aren't as many costs, but you need the money there for when it happens. And, of course there are utilities that may be covered by your rent which you would have to pay for as a home owner. Plus, you may have home owner's association dued. We have them in ours...but ours are cheap $300 a year. Our fees are about the cheapest I've seen anywhere. I know our inlaws pay $600 quarterly. But they do take care of their landscaping where they are. It would honestly be nicer to not be in a deed restricted area, but where we are (a good location as it is pretty close to everything and 5 min from DH's work) for decent subdivisions you can't find it.
It is so important with a family to live beneath your means, to have that emergency fund there. So, when something happens you're prepared. I do realize too that my mortgage payment still would be considered 'high' by some. But, we did opt to do the 15 year mortgage (we refinanced actually a few years into our first loan when rates plummited), in our case we decided we would rather pay the extra $300 or so since we knew we would be in our home long term. So, we could have had a cheaper payment if we wanted back then.
However, I have to think nowadays, it would be comparable to a 30 year....like you said, it's pretty hard to find anything that is decent for less than 200,000. And, mortgage rates are higher and you need to have a good down payment--very good credit.
I have to say though, in comparison to the majority of my friends and neighbors here we are among the few who are very happy with their decision to purchase in FL. So much of it wound up all about timing. At that point when we purchased we could afford it...but if we had tried two years ago, there was NO WAY we could have purchased our house.