I'd recommend you wait until the end of the season, you can get into a great pair of boots really cheap. I picked up some BD Factor 130s for around $350 while they were selling, and selling well, for $700+ all season long.
The most important thing about boots these days is all about fit. There are so many good boots out there, you need to find the one that has a shell that best fits your foot. The liners are really easy to form but if the shell doesn't fit your foot shape well you might as well just rent.
The best thing to do would be to go to a place that has a good boot fitter and tell them what you are after. If you want to put in a bit more money you can get a custom insole along with it as well. Many boots these days come with thermoformable liners that will be custom formed to your feet; they're worth it
The only spot I know in NY is a pedorthist in NYC who does consultation and custom boot work but it doesn't come cheap, happy to give you his name if you want to check it out. Beyond that look around on here: http://bootfitters.com/