To me the only way to get into the hobby is to start with a $100 to $300 EM project machines (or two). Make your mistakes on the cheaper stuff and then as you learn the machines, the people to avoid, the machines to avoid, etc start stepping up to better & better machines.
My son & I started in the hobby this way about 6 years ago and through some hard work, fixing and flipping a bunch of machines, buying smart and making lots of friends in the hobby we managed to build up a pretty nice collection spending very little cash.
It isn't a get rich scheme but if you want to learn a lot - not spend a ton of cash - and have your machines fairly cheap in the end you can make the process work. You will never get paid for your labor and my average profit on each machine was under $75 but over time the hobby can support itself.
So if you buy two EM's for $400 and fix both of them. Sell one for $350 and take that money and buy two more machines. Sell one of them for $350 after it is fixed - etc after 3 or 4 machines your first machine is free. Repeat the process a dozen times and you have 3 or 4 free EM's. Sell a couple of those and buy a cheaper SS machine or two and start the process over again.
Once you get a feel for things buy pinballs, rubber rings, bulbs, etc in bulk to bring your cost down. Again using some of the profits from the first few machines and over time you will build a nice collection and a good parts inventory with very little of your own cash invested.
I see so many people buying $2500 to $4000 machines as their first machine and then making the hobby into a money pit. If you start with cheap & simple machines - learn a little - flip a few for a little profit - two or three years down the road you can buy a nice $2500 machine with the profits from your efforts and by then you will be very good at fixing your machines when they break. To me this is the smart way to enjoy the hobby.