Idk, personally I think environment (ie, the crowd) is just as important than the equipment available. Working out (or doing anything really) with like minded, motivated and focused people can only help you. Yes, there is a PF near where I live and it is dirt cheap, but I would rather pay the $35 a month to have access to strongman equipment and a good crowd of highly experienced folks.
It is worth the investment. With that said, there are some gyms where they charge a lot, have nice equipment, but the crowd sucks. Yeah, maybe you can get a good workout, but if you're serious you wont stick around for the long term.
To start, follow the stronglift 5x5 protocol but don't pay for the forum. It is a scam.