this doesn't really answer your question but i see a lot of younger guys talk about living with their parents until they can buy or build their dream house, and while that does sound awesome in theory, i would highly recommend a starter house, even if for a couple of years, because in that time frame you'll get a much better idea of things you'll want/not want in your next home.
my advice to those people is to buy a foreclosure, live in it for a while to learn what you like and don't like, then sell the house for a profit in a couple of years and then consider buying that dream house
THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS. I can't emphasize this enough for a PLETHORA of reasons.
I was in pretty much the same situation as you but I live in S Carolina where starter homes aren't $200k and property tax on a house is <$2k/year.
Worked an ok job that I thought I'd be at for 5-7 years gaining experience and had also dated a girl for about 6 months. Thought she was my dream girl. Asked her to move in (rented a duplex at the time). Learned a LOT about her that I would have never learned otherwise. About 4 months after she moved in I decided to stop throwing money away on rent. Went back and forth between "Do I want a starter home or dream home?". Ended up settling for a 900 sq ft starter home with 1/4 acre which was 1/4 the cost of my dream home ($60k vs $240k, big difference between here and NY). House itself was in good shape and in a good, safe part of town but outdated. Over the past 3 years I've been going through and doing minor remodeling work (nothing serious; new paint, lighting upgrades, soon to be installing new flooring, counter tops and a roof, etc). All stuff I can handle myself. If you aren't a handy man I'd highly recommend buying a starter home simply so you can gain experience in the "Homeowner's maintenance department" and see how much work a house can be and how amplified it gets when you're talking about a large house. In that time frame I also planned on proposing to this girl, we had our issues but nothing we couldn't work out, until I found out she was running around with another guy. She was paying her fair share of bills while she lived here but after she moved out, I could still handle the bills easily on my own (since I bought a cheaper house). Also shortly after purchasing the house, the owner of the company I worked for turned into a major d-bag and I found other employment 80 miles away from the house. I'm still in the house and have it paid down quite a bit. Should have the entire house paid off in the next 6-8 years and will make money on it when I do decide to sell it (if I don't rent it out). That's my story in short without getting into deep details. My point being is that TONS of variables will change. Lots of things you don't expect to happen will. You're much better off seeing these changes in a starter home than a full fledged dream home. Buying a "dream home" for a first home leads to regret more often than not.
For a dream home I originally wanted 3,000 sq ft and 20+ acres (Could be had for $300k if in the right parts of SC). Had I originally bought that vs a starter home, I would be in total regret right now. After being in a 900 sq ft house, I realize that I don't want more than 1,800 sq ft as long as I have a garage/small shop to work in and use for storage. The more land the better though.
Three bits of advice that I can't stress enough:
1) Live with her before you mutually buy a place/get married, you may learn that you hate her.
2) Buy a starter home. Like BWAL said, you will learn A LOT of things that you do or don't want in a "dream house". Then you really can look for a dream house once you learn exactly what you want, not what you THINK you want.
3) Be 120% sure you're going to be at your current employer for at least 5-7 years after buying a place or at least ensure that there is ample work in your field in the area.