You really need to crunch the numbers. Generally small towns do not see a lot of ome value appreciation. And with the market as it is and will likely stay for at least a few more years, that's probably even more true than usual. So if your in town home isn't going to appreciate much in value, you will ultimately lose money by purchasing an in town home that you plan to sell in only a few years. You will lose money with upfront costs that you will likely pay, like closing costs, buying a town sized mower (that you'll need to replace with a bigger model as soon as you have tons of space to keep trimmed), random home repairs that will need to be done to the in town home, buying furniture for that home that doesn't fit in the next home and needs replaced, and selling costs (realtor fees, assistance with buyer's closing costs, inspection repairs, etc.). And in return for loosing that money you will gain the headaches of home ownership. It's kinda a lose-lose situation. IMHO in this market it is smarter to be patient, save, and buy what you really want to live in for 20+ years. Starter homes just don't make a lot of sense right now.
BTW... we bought land (5 acres is all that we could afford in our county) with a lovely house on it in the country. We're planning on chickens and goats in the spring, but I'd have a whole menagerie of critters if my husband let me. And our dog loves the room to run. I love country life! :)