What is your goal for the medium / long term?
Your perfect machine will not be the same if you just want to do rolled hems than if you want to follow some DIY tutorials or even sew professionally. Sewing Machines
If you intend to sew as a hobby, you won't need to spend a lot of money. However, sewing machines under $150-$200 (although I'm sure there are exceptions) are a bad investment. It is always better to wait a bit longer and invest in a better machine, than buying a cheap one that will end up in the trash within months.
Have a shopping strategy
Look online for the machines with the best reviews within your price range. Note them down and go to the shops. Once there, look out for parts that are difficult to move, softness while working, quality of the parts, etc. In other words: get a feel for how the machine would suit you. Compare them with the other ones they have in the shop that you think suit your needs (and look them up online later, too). Finally, go back online and look for the best deal. High Speed Sewing Machine
Should I seek advice from the seller?
In general, it's a good approach, but do not forget they're trying to sell (included whatever unpopular and unwanted machines are left - they usually sell them as promotions so watch out!). Sometimes they will suggest the most expensive, which is not always the best one for your needs. If you can, try to shop around and take a friend who knows a little. Computerized Sewing Machine
Made in China??
If you want your machine to last, look at where it's made. Mysteriously, the ones produced in countries like Switzerland, Germany, Japan, etc. last much longer. Portable Sewing Machine
This is a delicate subject. Most machines in a certain price range, whatever the brand, offer a similar quality. However, I would go for a traditional brand, one that has a history in the world of couture, such as Singer, Bernina (manufactured in Switzerland), Alfa (made in Spain ), Brother... This issue is important when you need replacement parts or repairs.
Don't get fooled by the details
It's a good thing if the machine does 200 different types of stitches and you can sew trimmings etc. But that should not be decisive. How many times will use those features? A couple of times maximum! You cannot live without the simple stitch, zig zag, and buttonhole options, while other details, such as an automatic needle threader option, are dispensable. Sewing Cabinets