I am new to everything GIS. I have been researching different software but have found more questions than solutions.
What I want to accomplish: I'm working on a research project with participants across the USA. I have .csv files with their demographics and addresses (which I presume I can geocode rather easily). # of objects to be mapped would be in the hundreds to thousands range. Anyways I would like to create choropleth maps showing participant density in certain areas of the USA as well as heat maps or other visually pleasing displays of our participant's locations. I would then like to compare this to demographics of areas (ie race/ethnicity, age, income, etc.) which I would need to either purchase or find on the internet. This information will allow us to analyze possible reasons why certain groups choose to enroll as well as prevalence of disease in certain areas of the USA.
Budget: My company has some money to spend (if necessary - we are a non-profit) and I would like to choose the best software solution to fit our needs. I have looked into Esri/ArcGIS and MAPCITE and on the other end of things QGIS. I am trying to write a proposal comparing the possible benefits and feasibility of this kind of mapping.
Can you please give me an idea of the best option for my needs (please consider I do not have any GIS experience, but I am willing to learn).
Your guidance and wisdom are much appreciated!