You should easily be able to find a vintage microscope for $100 or less.
Keep in mind everything will be stiff as the grease will have dried up so it may take some work to get it operating smoothly. Parts may be missing or broken. For some people such as myself fixing this is part of the fun.
I am a beginner, but I have one of each.
I have a vintage American Optical Spencer microscope probably early 60s which I got for free, and a brand new Chinese AmScope B120C which cost me $180.
The American Optical microscope is built like a tank, well machined, and looks and feels great. Feels like history... and I love old machinery.
It also gets hot, the movement needs more work, the stage was stuck when I got it but I fixed it, the eyepiece has very little eye relief and field of view is narrow, and the aluminized parts show some pitting.
The Chinese scope is an LED lit scope. It feels lighter, cheaper made, and has plastic knobs, etc. It's also a bino viewer and easier, smoother, and more comfortable to actually use. It has good eye relief, better eyepieces, the images appear just as good as the spencer, brightness is adjustable (in addition to the iris diaphragm), and it doesn't get hot.
Because it's a bino, it does have an unfair advantage because I don't see all the floaters you would see using only one eye.
I have no regrets at all after buying the AmScope, but for less money you could probably get a very nice vintage binocular scope of better quality if you know what to look for and are willing to do some service.
You can see my Pug Urine post to compare images from each scope.
Edited by Tom Stock, 13 September 2019 - 12:02 AM.