My advice is contradictory:
1 Avoid clubs, go straight to a flight school. They will trim your plane and in a few concentrated sessions will train you solidly. That's their job. Don't trust the club amateur arrangements.
2 Buy insurance from a specialist broker. Get more than the basic. Club insurance doesn't cover injury to yourself or to your family. It also doesn't cover loss from your van, shed or garage. You need all these.
3 Don't fly scale models, they tend to be less stable and more brittle. Get a model made of Elapor, it will absorb a huge amount of damage. The EasyStar model is perfect for building hours of air time. Buy the original not one of the inferior clones.
4 If you have a slope soaring site locally, get soaring. It will allow you fuss free 30 minute flights all afternoon. With typical powered models you'll take twice as long to build up hours of fight experience.
5 Avoid IC engines, they are all noise and no power. Youll spend hours fiddling instead of flying. Electric motors are more powerful, and don't restrict your choice of flying sites.
6 Flight simulators are good for helicopter training, but I have never found them of much use for fixed wing, perhaps because of the narrow field of view. But do try one. Get a good controller that looks like your transmitter, but don't spend a lot on the software, the free and low cost systems work fine.
7 Bear in mind that clubs and forums tend to have people with opinions, but no experience. It stands to reason that the guys loafing around giving advice or posting hundreds or thousands of times a year are not the ones off competing in expert events, or busily practicing. They are sometimes frustrated army types who enjoy a good shout, but really aren't much use to you.
8 For the camaraderie, join several clubs, and see where you fit in best. A few clubs have officious types, and if you like that, it's there for you. Others may be more welcoming.
After fifty years of flying, I still enjoy the new. I fly power (electric only since 1977), high performance gliders up to 3m span, delta EDF jets, helicopters (since 1972), and FPV. I buy only German radio control systems now after bad experiences with Japanese sets, and buy motors, speed controllers, and batteries from Hong Kong. I buy a sample to test out, then a whole batch with spares. I rarely buy what my local flying chums advise, although I carefully study what they are doing. Instead, I read technical specifications and independent reviews from several sources to try to eliminate bias, and narrow minds.
One last thing. Have several flying sites. If you spot any obstruction like a building, tree, power line or fence, cross the site off your list. You always want a big sky, and plenty of ground, especially at the beginning when you cant be sure when your motor will quit. If you see a person, animal, car or full sized plane, hang glider or anything else you might collide with, stop flying immediately, and go elsewhere, or wait until they do.