I can only give my view point as a SWL. A lot of listening can go a long way.
(Although I have been considering a foundation ticket of late)
I love listening to 80m as usually you can actually hear both sides of the conversation!
I hear a lot of new passers here and amazed how they cut through on QRP limitations. Sometimes they're clearer than the big gun operators as they're not overloading my radio's front end.
As Craig pointed out, 40m can usually be exciting as well as 20m. I often hear continental and stateside contacts especially during "grey-line" operation and if they are 'beaming' to each other the UK usually sits in line of sight making for interesting contacts.
The best thing is these bands are interesting all the time, no hanging off until sunspot peak. I usually hear intercontinental contacts most every day.
The thing that's nice are the operators that will cherry pick the QRP operators over the big-guns, (which usually means new licence holders), as it's more challenging and for them, keeps amateur radio going with the new blood.
Some of the 'big-boys' are blasting out enough power to overcome their antenna deficiencies but can't hear the QRP's!!
As for a setup, it depends on your view.
For me I like the fact that the "super new cool" HF sets soon become jaded yet retain their awesome qualities. This means eventually lower second hand prices and I've seen fantastic HF sets go for less money than SSB CB's!
Some of the old sets, (boat anchors and smaller homebase), are often passed on as 'faulty' but is usually a case of operator deficiencies....they just can't operate the damn things!
HF antennas can be all sorts of things and yet work well. As it's flipping difficult to make a Yagi beam for 80m long bits of wire go a long way
I have a Ham friend who's made loads of contacts using a steel core washing line! Really
I even joked about how high up his washing line was until he pointed out it was his antenna!
You could even think about picking up a bit of Morse......at 10 watts the world's your oyster
Flip, making me think about getting my ticket again
Best of luck with whatever you do Gary. Enjoyment makes it all go a long way.