It doesn't have to be expensive. A nice 2m mobile set up is only going to be a couple of hundred dollars. Even new, a Yaesu FT-1802M is going for about $150 and single band antenna is maybe $40. Hams are perpetual tinkerers, so finding very good used radios is super easy, saves you a ton a money.
"Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?" -- Ron Paul