have been through similar, dh got a job when ds was almost 6 months old, and until we sold our house and moved, dh went away on monday morning and didn't come back til friday evening. after 10 months of being on my own with ds and dd, who was 3.5 at the time, was so relieved to move and have everyone under the same roof again. while we were selling our house, i did loads of research on the new area and found plenty of activities to get involved in. the main thing that helped is the area we moved to, not far from school and lots of other families nearby with kids the same age, we now all walk the school run together. makes up for the fact that we left all our family/friends behind, at least if i'm ill, dd has other who can take her to school.
I moved 400 miles south when I was 37 weeks pregnant and with 2 dcs aged 7 & 2 so I understand how scary it feels.
The thing about a baby is that it gets you talking to people - neighbours will want to stop you to have a look at the lo and you will meet other mums if you join a toddler group for the 3 yo.
It is far easier to get to know people in a new area when you have dcs so long as you are willing bite the bullet and go along to activities on offer even if you don't know anyone. I found alot of the other mums were in the same position as me - had recently moved and were looking for friends.
I have just sold my flat (I kept hold of it for a while cause like you I was worried we wouldn't settle) and have decided to keep the profit for a year or so to see how things go with the housing market and then buy something once things have settled down.
We are renting atm.
Have you thought about doing the same? It will also let you get to know which areas you like and the ones you don't before you commit to buying somewhere you don't really know.