Despite the fact that most of the Blender users never earned money with Blender and I’m also sure that they never put the same effort to learn Max (a conclusion of reading debates), I have to say:
Blender community is extremely helpful.
They like newbies, they offer their help, they share their tips, their files. The whole world should work this way.
There are several projects to make Blender more handy for free.
The pricing of paid tools is reasonable, take a look on Suicidator City Generator here for only 20 bucks (for the full version, of course; the ‘basic’ version is free).
Recommended links (general):
Recommended links (Blender for archviz):