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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!
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