Re: First time home owner needs Lawn Tractor help
Definitely stay away from the lawn tractors. I think the x380 has the beefier transmission than the K48 so if you still want to go smaller that may be an option.
However, I have a home on 2.19 acres. I have about 12-15 obstacles I mow around (Trees, garden, LP tank, bushes, etc). I figure I mow about 1.5 acres. It usually takes me about 70 minutes. I use an X485 with a 62 inch mower deck though.
If you are wanting to keep your mowing time under 2 hours on 2.5 acres of lawn, you will want a 60-62" deck. If you go with a 48" or 52" be prepared to spend a more time mowing. Like a lot more time. Smaller decks rule of thumb is going to be about 60-75 minutes/acre depending on how many obstacles you have to go around and if you turn around every pass (stripe mow etc vs just mowing in a giant circle). In your budget I would look for an X475 or X485 with a 62" deck. I think you should be able to pick one up for just under $4,000 in pretty good condition with reasonable hours (Less than 800).
Otherwise like others stated a 345, GX345 etc would be a nice fit, as well as a 425, 445, etc.
Also, you may end up mowing 3 times in 2 weeks in the spring and during wet times over the summer. So adjust your mowing time expectations accordingly.
JD 2003 X485, JD 54" hydraulic 4-way blade, JD 647 rotary tiller, 2x 50 lb wheel weights, 62" Edge deck.