I don't know about $1000 getting me pretty far... I really like the T3i but to buy it new I'm looking at around $1200 to get the kit with the lens. Even used I'm looking at around $850-$950 for something like that. The other thing is I don't like to settle on things like this, I want to get something that will suit my needs and I can use until it all but disintegrates.
I'm mostly interested in taking pictures of action (like hockey, "handegg" or paintball) and some large scenic stuff. One thing I absolutely hated was going to Hawaii' and hiking the Caldera in Volcano National Park and only having an old crappy P&S.
@Monty can you elaborate on renting? I've never really heard of renting photography equipment.