Would be a house if I am not:liudr
1) Too cheap
2) Too underpaid as a prof.
3) Too picky on the back yard orientation (has to be south in this cold world)
4) Too specific (can't do split entry or ranch)
5) working in a town that's too small
6) Too afraid to be a slave of the bank
- there isn't a better time to buy a house, if you have the money for it. If you get a 30 year fixed and don't go too crazy on the size/style/amenities of the house, you could pay that thing off in 15 years and be sitting pretty. Mortgage rates will likely never be this low in a loooong time, and banks are almost begging for people to buy the old foreclosed properties - they'll probably cut you a great deal.
Whatever you do, insist on a fixed rate. The thing about a house (provided you are looking at it as a place to live, and not an investment) is that you build equity in it. While, yes, you are technically a "slave to the bank", this -is- secured credit, as opposed to a credit card or other debt obligations. Furthermore, the value of property can't drop much further (and if it does, we're all hosed), so the value of the property and such can almost only go up from here.
I would also suggest getting a pre-owned home in a neighborhood without a homeowner's association. IMHO, they are only worth it if you want to live in a neighborhood where people only keep their house up under threat of fines, not because they enjoy their neighbors and neighborhood. I prefer to be among the latter group, personally. Plus, older pre-owned neighborhoods have real character, and don't feel like cookie-cutter fakeness. I'd be willing to bet that if you really looked around your area, you could find a nice Craftsman fixer-upper for cheap (if you've never seen a Craftsman - oh, man, if they haven't been stripped down, they are among the nicest houses style-wise, inside and out).
Of course, your needs/wants are pretty specific - you might find it easier to find land and build a custom house on it (unless this would be your first home - then you would need to carefully weigh whether that option could be taken, because it isn't simple, and costs can get out of control easily).
Good luck, whatever you decide!