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Fiddlershop is currently looking for a 7th repair/setup/luthier technician to join our team. Send PM if you are interested.
Not sure how rental contracts might be where you are, but in my city in Texas, it is often a good idea to rent for a short time while you are deciding whether you really want to play violin or not. Here you can generally find month-to-month rentals (no long term contract required) for about US$ 25-30 per month.
If you want to buy, it really will depend exactly on what your budget is. Lots of people (myself included) have successfully started on very cheap violins like a low-end Mendini or Cecilio model (available online at many stores for around US$100 and less, down to as low as about US$60), but a violin like this will probably only last you for a few months before you'll want a better violin. With the very cheap violins, you also need to be prepared to tinker around with them - by adding peg compound to keep the pegs from slipping, for example. I would recommend not going with the very lowest price point if possible, to save some frustration with the pegs and tuning. Fiddlershop does recommend a couple of US$89.99 and US$109.99 Cecilio models that may be good bets at the lower end of the price spectrum, through I have not tried those models myself to be able to comment.
Good luck with your search for a violin!