I brewed for about five years, though that was over a decade ago. If you are looking to save money on beer (as I had one friend ask me one time), it doesn't really help. Between the equipment cost and ingredients, you won't save any.
If you want to make good beer, it's all about good ingredients. Fresh hops (not pellets), good malt, and above all, good yeast strains--in particular liquid yeasts, though a friend told me that dry yeasts have gotten better since I stopped brewing.
It's easy to make a generic-tasting ale (even with basic ingredients) that tastes pretty good. If you want a specific style, and want a focused, distinctive taste, that's where the better ingredients come in -- better yeast, full grain mash instead of canned extract, etc.
Ale is easier as it ferments at room temperature. Lagers ferment at lower temps, so you would need a dedicated fridge.
You can make good beer with basic equipment, but more advanced equipment makes the process a lot faster and easier. Especially keg brewing instead of bottles -- you can get those 5 gal soft drink kegs that are great for home brewing (a lot easier than cleaning/filling 50 bottles), and a kit to to turn an old fridge into a kegerator.
The biggest concern is sanitation -- get ready for a LOT of cleaning prior to brewing/bottling. If you skimp on this step you risk ruining the batch with bacteria infection.
Best of luck! It's a fun hobby.