I will start this by saying I am a HAM.
Some of my group are not radio folks. They went out and bought small Chinese Handy Talkies. Including the ones sold at WalMart and such companies do not believe the “goes up to 35 miles!!!!!!!” Yes it will, in a perfect vacuum with nothing between the two radios and those are the only radios in the world.
Having said that:
You can spend almost nothing to almost break the bank for radios. You are limited by: where you live, where there are large amount of buildings and how far you are trying to transmit.
Antennas and the wire (coax) between your radio and antenna is where you should spend a little extra. If you take a Chinese hand held, take off the factory antenna and then run coax to a antenna with a magnetic mount you will be surprised how far you can reach on your transmissions. By putting the mag mounted antenna on just a file cabinet you will increase your transmission distance by a bunch. If you have a metal roof then put the antenna there.
More later…