Welcome to the forum! i think you will end up with some great advice. as always, there are lots of opinions here and other places.
first, what would be your main purpose of the hand gun, personal defense, range use, or a combination of both.
if you are looking at range use, plinking, consider calibur when chosing. typically the prices go from low to high, 22-9-40-380-38-357-45. i really enjoy my 22 at the range, and have a 9 for personal defense and practice with it as often as the 22
second, if you like the 1911 and the larger caliburs,stay with that format, the 1911 in 45 is a heavy weapon and usually will run much higher than your budget, IMHO, so save up!
third, for personal defense, there are lots of opinions about calibur, knock down power, magazine capacities etc. again IMHO shot placement will overrule volume!
this forum has lots of great advise, most can be found with the search engine, and will help avoid asking questions without definitive replys
Enjoy and welcome