I would personally go for ESP32. With WiFi & BT for US $4 to 5. Here is one for less than $3, including P & P.
If you can afford $30, then you can get 2 @ ESP32 LoRo boards, where LoRa means Long Range and is about 15km, line of sight. That is just the first pair I found; I am sure that I bought a pair more cheaply. Those may cost more because then have a display.
For $15 or less, you can get an ESP32 with camera. Some with Passive InfraRed detector, to knwo when a person stands in front of them (body heat, many not be 100% accurate). Some with microphone & speaker, $20 with housing.
With that, you can make a great project, to replace the Ring doorbell. When someone rings your doorbell, you can view the camera, even video-conference, with your smartphone. This is on my list of projects to do, but I am a software guy, and you don't say if you prefer soft or hard-ware projects.
Since I am not a hardware guy, I love the Seeed Grove system with about 300 sensors and motors, etc From about $2 to $20, which are Plug & Play - no soldering required.
If you like that idea, look at M5Stack, which can be bought on their site, or from Ali Express.
They also have a wrist strap, for wrist-mounted projects
I bought a Grove Connector GPS module for $15, which can be used for many projects. Just add imagination.
I would not get ESP826, as the ESP32 replaces it, unless you have a special requirement, or don't need the WiFi / BT connectivity.
The only drawback is, like many MCUs, debugging is only by printing to the serial port. I could only find one ESP32 dev board with on board debugger, the ESP-WROVER-KIT-VB . It costs $45v (ouch!), but has that on-board debugger, to allow you to set breakpoints and examine the call stack & variables, which is a must for me as a professional software developer.
For an IDE, use PlatformIO with Visual Studio Code.
Costly, but it has a large display. Take a look at it playing Doom and tell me that you aren't impressed ;-) The code is on GitHub
I have already written more than I planned to, so please give us a budget and tell us what you want to do, especially if it is more soft or hard-ware based.
If you value a debugger, the ST Micro boards are good. They are perhaps more "professional" than hobbyist, so slightly more expensive. The STM32WB has BT & WiFi.
Also, the BBC Micro:Bit is about $10, with BT, but no WiFi and on-board debugger (I have a shield that accepts Grove Connectors).
And that's before we get started with AdaFruit !!
I will stop here in case you update your question ;-)