Get the old hardware, as nothing beats the real thing, but dont overlook emulation. Winuae makes the real amiga hard drive so easy to set up (Bloodwych's ClassicWB and KillerGorilla's most excellent guide to setting up SFS) so it's easy to get back into the groove.
If you were into the amiga in the 80's and 90's then you'll need the real thing. If you just jumped on, then emulation is a piece of cake. But going by your question, you really need to treat yourself to the hardware.
Get yourself a 44-40 pin IDE converter, and a chunky CF card and PCMCIA adapter, register WHDLOAD, and enjoy yourself like you couldn't afford to in the 90's.