That stinks you only have one barn within 60 miles!
The only time I would recommend buying a horse for a beginner rider is if they have an experienced horse person with them (or in the family) to help with daily care, training, and riding, as horses can, as you probably know, be unpredictable and dangerous, no matter how gentle they are. If you don't know a whole lot about horses to begin with, everything is going to go downhill pretty fast. Also, if your horse someday starts a bad habit, like kicking or spooking, you may not know how to correct it if you are an inexperienced horse person with no actual trainer to help you.
If you are buying a horse to save money, well, you are not going to save a dime. :) Before I bought my first horse I did some online research to figure out how much it would cost on average to own a horse. What those websites don't figure in is if your horse needs acupuncture or HA injections into his stifle... like mine does.
Do you know anyone in the area who has horses who may let you ride them and take lessons? They don't necessarily have to be a 'horse lesson barn;' just a local rider.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do, I know you will choose what's best for you and your whole situation. And if you do end up getting a horse, in the end they are worth it; no matter how much you spend, how much they hurt your feelings, or how much they act like a nutcase, they are worth ever penny, every tear, ever heartache, and every smile.