Since it is holiday gift giving list time of year I thought I'd add my two cents!
Before you read further, I recommend you read Scott Bourne's Annual DSLR Camera Buying Guide. Love his perspective. Come back here when you are done ;)
I'm going to be practical here. I believe you should buy the most camera you can afford. Period. BUT, that being said, most of us live on a budget and have other life necessities to take care of.
While price is not the only factor to consider, it's a biggie. Here is my budget list for Santa :) Both of these can be found for under $700 and have great features.
Of course, hold these, feel them and see which you like.
Consider purchasing the body only and with your savings buy a good, fast lens!
Is that too simple? Two cameras to consider? Let me know if you want to spend more and I can definitely help spend your money! Both cameras are linked to B&H Photography, my choice for camera equipment since my beloved local store closed.
For those of you who want to spend more, take a look at the Canon 7D or Nikon D7000. And for those of you who want more detail, I recommend spending some time on dpReview side by side comparison. Ignore the price listings and look at ISO sensitivity, Continuous drive, and megapixels.