Not quite true. Though it is a standard belief that renting is a waste of money, it's not necessarily the case. I agree that you do not necessarily get a return on your money, but you do need shelter. Bluntly, you cannot live without it, so you are indeed getting a return, just not a monetary one.
There are some futurist economist types that think there will be a tremendous crash in real estate value in the near future. I'm not sure I understand the rationale, but some do believe it.
The rate of return on real estate as an investment isn't all that great anyway, usually in the neighbourhood of 5-8%. Pretty good for the last couple of years, as compared to stocks and mutual funds, but piss poor compared to the late 90's. All things being equal, investing wisely the amount you save not paying a mortgage would leave you financially further ahead. But how many have the fortitude to do that investing with the extra cash? Not I.
Last time we paid rent, we paid about $675 for a two bedroom 850 sq. ft. apartment. Third floor with a balcony overlooking the river.