What would be my best option for a future purchase? I also get the feeling that if i stay with the Panasomic FZ3, that i may want to upgrade eventually with no use for the old camera.
If you decide you like the basic camera but need more pixels, then purchasing another stabilized super zoom would make the FZ3 redundant. But it is more likely for you to get a pocket camera to carry everywhere or move up to DSLR or decide you need a wider angle. In that case the FZ3 is still going to be a viable camera for you. I have cameras other than my FZ10, but it is still what I grab if I am going out in my boat and might encounter some wildlife. And I use it for indoor meetings etc where a flash would be objectionable – the stabilization is great for wider angle available light.
Look at Steve's sample pictures from the FZ3 and compare them to other cameras you are considering. I doubt you will see a lot of difference between pictures. That someone blows up a test pattern and finds one camera to have a little more resolution than another is usually meaningless in everyday photography.
The FZ3 has a lot going for it. There simply isn't a better non-DSLR camera on the market for indoor available light when subject movement isn't a factor. There isn't anything for the price that will give you about a 420mm equivalent zoom at f2.8 with stabilization. The flash range is decent and the low light focus is reasonably good. It has all of the manual exposure modes to learn on. I don't think you will find a better starter camera in your price range unless you want something to carry in your pocket or consider movies a high priority. The viewfinder doesn't gain up and it can be a hassle to frame in very low light, but that is pretty minor in everyday use.