If you have done your research in terms of how acoustic guitars don’t need to be expensive in order to be good, you are probably already looking for the best acoustic guitars under $500 that the market has to offer. That being said, while it is true that price is not necessarily an indicator of quality, this does not mean that all acoustic guitars are created equal. Some of them are produced in a manner that makes them decidedly unequal at the end of the day, so you need to figure out what qualities you are going to be looking for in the acoustic guitar you end up choosing.
A good acoustic guitar will primarily have a large body and a fret board that is not too thin. Another thing that you need to think about is the “action” of the guitar. This is a term used to describe the distance between the fretboard and the strings. If the strings are too high up the guitar is going to be difficult to play, and you will certainly not end up getting a lot of pleasure out of it. Strings that are too close to the fretboard are going to end up buzzing quite a bit, but in general the rule is that the strings should be closer rather than further away. Getting a moderate action guitar will give you good control over your playing as well, thereby ensuring that you can develop a mode of playing that is entirely your own.
Try to listen to what the guitar sounds like instead of just seeing what it looks like. Ugly looking guitars often end up sounding absolutely amazing, and you don’t want to miss out on something that sounds this good.