If this were a full time gig I would no doubt be buying the best, but mowing roughly 75 hrs/year on the rider, if my math is right, I don't need the best. Not too mention, I don't want to mow 2-3 years just to pay for the mower. Would be nice to pocket something for all that time spent working, right? That's why the $2999 is VERY attractive to me, but if spending $4K will double the life then I can justify that. $4500 is absolute max, but that would take me nearly 2 seasons just to break even. Doesn't sound fun. I'm basing my math on 4 accounts.