I know a lot is involved in becoming certified, including buying/renting equipment. Any suggestions?

You should look for a local dive shop that offers certification and ask them what the fees are. They will provide you with the cost of the course and materials required. For you dive training, You usually need at a minimum, your own snorkel and mask. You can usually rent the rest. If you are serious about getting into it, ask them if they offer any discounts on additional products if you get certified through them. It’s a blast, take the course.