Hi, I'm looking to add a small forum to a website I'm in the process of building. I'm completely new to coding so only coding at a novice/hobby level. I have not yet chosen a host for my website but hope to in the next few days as I hope to go live early in the new year.
The website and forum will be for a small car club. It could be done through facebook but I think facebook looks too messy for a club site.

I require the forum to have decent support. I want a public side of the forum but I'm gonna want a hidden forum within the forum for members only. I don't want limitations in script etc that could prevent me from exporting the forum at a later date if I'm not happy with the service. I don't want pop ups so I don't mind paying a small amount for the hosting/forum but it will be a small forum for a non profit organisation so i don't wanna be paying through the nose either.

I've read a few top 10 reviews and don't understand how some free or cheap services are so high up in the top 10's I'm guessing there are hidden pitfalls to a lot of them.
I don't wanna waste time building for one only to find out its a poor service. So if anyone can provide some help/advice please do. Even if its only to say don't use X, Y or Z for what ever reason. Please share.