You don't need a big investment in a coal stove to start out. Today I saw on Craiglist a Warm Morning stove and a couple hundred pounds of coal for free in the Boston area. While free stoves are not the norm of course you can find a good used coal stove for well under $500. I paid $100 for my coal stove and it was the best investment I ever made.
....Seriously....& get a Coal Chubby on CL for $300 or less. Or by a refurbished from Larry Trainor for 699 to 1500. Jotul is a beautiful stove - take the munufacturer's advice
Here is Larry selling his basic model on Ebay:
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.
Lots of threads on these. I started one recently about my first season.