I can't relate to the hot tub horror stories. Mine came with the house, kind of. As we were negotiating the house price, they asked for $5k for the hot tub. I told them to take it with them, knowing that they didn't want to. They came back with $1k, so I agreed. I probably could have held out for a lower number, but it was fairly new and in good shape. So it was "worth" it to me.
Repairs - That was 7 years ago. The tub still works great. Sure some LEDs have faded or died and a pump has gone out and had to be replaced, but overall that's minimal. I have it "serviced" (checked out) every October/November before the real cold hits. I don't know anything about the internals, so I have a service shop handle it. Think of it like changing oil/tires...you have to do preventative maintenance sometime (or pay someone else to do it). He doesn't sell and only maintains/repairs. Just like a good auto mechanic, find one you think you can trust.
Maintenance - Ours is a 550 gallon, six person tub. Maintenance isn't overly taxing if you set a routine. Check the chemicals and adjust every weekend. Buy chemicals online at SpaDepot...if I can say that here. It's a bulk warehouse shop and prices are cheap. Buy for between 3 and 6 months depending on available storage. This stuff doesn't go bad in the unopened container.
Changing Water - I'm a bit on the germophobe side, so I change the water every three months and give the surfaces a good wipe-down. That's really not necessary, but it's not a terrible burden either. Get a submersible pump, and it's over quickly. Someone already said have two filters. I couldn't agree more. A clean filter (not just spraying it off and putting it back in) will really cut down on issues.
Utility Expense - As long as power is already accessible, is this a real concern? If you want the tub you pay the bill.
Granted, this is just one anecdotal story, but aren't they all? So, if all of that doesn't sound too daunting and the money (as well as knowing you won't get it back on a sale) isn't an issue, get a really nice new hot tub. If that sounds like more work than you hoped but want to get one anyway, find one that someone is giving away and fix it (or have it fixed). Finally, if all this sounds like a pain in the ass, forget about it and get another pinball machine.
The one thing hot tubs and pinball machines have in common is that in both, cost and worth are not synonyms.