I went natural when I moved to France and the lack of quality salons that you mentioned above definitely made the decision a lot easier. I protective-styled for a year, so I didn't have much breakage at all (until I put this horrible shampoo in my hair...Revivogen...stay away from it), though I did have a moment when I used a really poor shampoo and had to cut out a clump of permed hair. There was no turning back at that point.
I wore kinky twists in my hair and large braids (my own) until my relaxer grew out. I kept cutting as well, ever few months, until I finally got down to the natural hair (at the one year point).
I used a lot of homemade products in my hair including glycerine spritzes and shea butter/castor oil/olive oil balms on my hair. I think that combination is what has made me stay breakage-free, thus far.
When I had a relaxer, I stayed away from heat and had just about zero breakage, so if going natural would have entailed a ton of damage and hair breakage, I wouldn't have been able to handle it (seriously). So I've been using the same approach with my natural hair that I did with my relaxed hair (no heat, no breakage). The only difference I'd say is that now, I keep my hair moist.
You'll see your hair break a bit at the line of demarcation, but if you wear protective styles, you might end up like I did and have to finally cut off all of your hair because the perm simply won't go anywhere.
Sponge applying ACV rinses instead of shampoo will probably also stave off breakage by preventing your hair from tangling while wet. That approach worked WONDERS for me.