I'm only about 6 months into printing and I went with a Creality Ender 3. It has been an amazing machine and continues to impress me. It has incredible capabilities for the sub $200 price tag (I got the DIY version). My only complaint about it is the small bed size but that is expected with this model and not something unforeseen. I knew it was smaller but the price was right.
Ive been using Overture PLA filament almost exclusively because its the first brand I used and I haven't had any problems with it. https://overture3d.com/
As for software, I've been using Cura as my main slicer and dabbling with Meshmixer and Fusion 360.
Currently printing the Do3D Iron Man Mk 85 (just started and very slowly) for cosplay. About 14hrs in .15mm layers (1 day 4 hr est total time)
Just finished painting my Saw Cleaver from Bloodborne. This part was originally 8 separate parts.
I would absolutely love to have another printer and an Ender 5 would make the Mk 85 go soooo much faster.