Hey jmangt welcome and have to say this is a great place to get help. Felt I should chim in on this thread since I was in your shoes a few months ago.
I just got my license about 2 months ago, never rode a motorcycle before and wasn't sure what to get. I was looking at the Concours (Big no no, bike very powerful), KLR 650, Versys, BMW 650 and of course the V-Strom 650.
In the end I decided on the V-Strom, I purchased a 2012 650 that has ABS with top case and bar risers with about 3250 miles on it for $5650.00 dollars from a private party. I live in Portland, Oregon. I did have to replace the brake lever though but beside that the bike was in great condition.
I am a tall guy 6 feet 4 inches and come in around 212 lbs. I can flat foot the bike with no problems, but if I was 6 or 7 inches shorter I would be nervous trying to learn on the V-Strom. There are few times where I was learning to stop and the bike would go over to the side and I was able to catch it with no real issue but if I was shorter I would most likely have dropped the bike.
I really like the 2012 model with the display. For a new rider hate to say it but I did need to check on more than one occasion what gear I was in and having that display really help.. Total noob thing
So my advice from one new rider to another, get a bike that you feel you can flat foot with no problems and isn't to heavy. One of the tests I did in my garage was I leaned the bike to the left and than to the right as far as I could with out dropping it to get a sense of the weight when it went over so I know if the bike when passed that point I couldn't recover and to just let it go.
I put close to 100 miles in my neighborhood constantly practicing stopping, turning left, turning right and making u-turns before I ever went on a more busy roads and even then was very careful to stay off any busy road I felt I couldn't handle.
If you want any more info feel free and send me a private message. What ever bike you get hope you enjoy it and remember people buy and sell bikes all the time you getting something smaller and trading up later shouldn't be to much of a problem.