I like Age of Sigmar as well, there are plenty of ways to make things even. I think the main difficulty will be in finding local players, I'm on the opposite side of the Valley from you in Peoria, I usually play at Imperial Outpost in Phoenix although there has not been much interest there either. I recently have been playing a bit more and seem to get interest when we play but its a tough time at the moment. I enjoy all aspects of the hobby so will collect and paint regardless but it is nice to play a game occasionally.
As far as faction pick one you like the feel of, the newer factions that have come out since Age of Sigmar are amazing models so I would recommend one of those. Although the new $85 starter sets are amazing deals regardless of the faction if one of those suits your taste. The nice thing with Age of Sigmar is you can buy the models you like and always find a use for them, 8th there were some cool models I never used/collected because they weren't effective enough for the points cost.