The best manual car for beginners is in all likelihood someone else's car. Try it, see if you like it, and if you hate it then it becomes easy to walk away. But say you take that step, love it, and start to look at used cars for sale in my area to find something with a stick in your price range. What should you look at as you wander the lot? Read on.
Pros and Cons of a Brand New Manual Car
Not many new cars for sale today promote the manual as an option, and the ones that do are either baseline models or muscle and performance cars. The good news is those baseline model cars can save you several hundred if not thousands of dollars over a similarly equipped automatic. Also many new cars for sale today offer a more forgiving experience then cars found on local used car lots.
The downside is that while you save hundreds on the transmission, you pay thousands on a new car that will quickly depreciate on you. Since this will be your first time driving full time with a stick, it might be a better idea to choose something easier to unload should that hilly urban area you live near isn't as much fun to tool around in as you thought.
Oh and insurance will cost you more and you'll want something decent to good covering you. Unless you want to find out what its like to pay a premium in repairs after you pressed the clutch instead of the brakes as you rear ended that truck.
Pros and Cons of a Late Model Used Manual
Short of being able to beat on someone else's transmission, checking car search engines for pre-owned used Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, or a Honda Civic are all good places to start. Long track records, plenty of parts, and a lot more choices from back when manual cars were a lot more common on the road. And while not idiot proof, they'll give you an easier time then finicky older performance cars will.
There are also cheap used trucks for sale like a Ford or a Chevy to consider as well. They'll be harder to stall but you have to consider what you're buying carefully. All used vehicles can have a chance at additional service cost to keep it road worthy, but a work truck beaten into the ground could hold some extra surprises in your final price tag.