Share your thoughts on the matter

Depending on how much money you want to put in this. If you want to go new radio, here's my shopping list:
1) ICOM IC-718
1) LDG Z100 auto antenna tuner
1) 80/40 meter dipole antenna. MFJ, Alpha Delta, Etc.
That will set you up. The 718 I use at the church EOC and it's a simple nice rig. The auto tuner is made to plug right into the ICOM and will match anything you throw at it.

If you want a used HF radio, you can find them cheap. Watch local on line ads. Here in Utah it's KSL.COM.
Not sure where you are but we have a local dealer here in Salt Lake that carries all this and more.