Originally Posted By kmrtnsn:
Learn first; buy later. It would be silly to buy and start paying costs on a training plane that you do not own. Annuals, insurance, tie-down, etc., have the flight school eat these costs. Once you have your license and have some time in different types you'll have a much better idea of what you can afford and what you want.
Me, I'd find a nice, well maintained and hangared Cessna TU206. It will have the legs and hauling capacity you will need later when you are flying for business and pleasure. Better speed and comfort than a 172 or 182 and the utility configuration is nice for loading large bags should you decide to take it skiing, hunting, etc (roughly 1,000 lbs for a 1,000 miles, try that in a 172/182). Look for a three bladed Hartwell.
Sierra down in Uvalde has an STC for 50+ gallons more fuel in wing tanks.