I’m very intrigued by the idea of having my own personal server to play around with. There was a good NBLUG talk about them in 2011 which piqued my interest and I’ve been messing around with one of my own for a while now. I highly recommend them as a cheap way to get your hands dirty on a system you control and can meld to your will. They’re a great alternative to jumping into something like an Amazon AWS instance and often come with cheap month-to-month pricing. The cheapest servers are OpenVZ based which have fixed memory sizes and limited swap but are often all that is needed. More expensive KVM instances are available but aren’t worth it unless you need the extra horsepower.
Note, however, that not all providers are created equal – some providers have a bad reputation for spotty network connectivity, excessive downtime, and other issues, so I’ll avoid recommending any particular provider for the time being.