ESRI is great software, but, yes, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny. ESRI is a lot more user friendly and, in my opinion, when it comes to pretty maps, ESRI is on top. That being said, there are a few open source solutions out there that can compare to ESRI software. Some are easier to learn than others and some have a bit a steep learning curve.
I grew up on ESRI software in school, but now I provide open source solutions to my clients. I use the most common software and it keeps my clients happy. That being QGIS for desktop, PostGIS for the backend, and GeoServer and OpenLayers for web apps, along with some Leaflet web apps.
Now, ESRI's software will also connect with PostGIS and GeoServer if you wish to run some kind of hybrid set up.
I like open source software mainly because of the community's will to help each other. I still produce a great product that my clients love without the overhead cost from ESRI.