I wouldn't recommend buying gear. Film school will give you a good foundation, but it doesn't guarantee anything once you are done, the advantage to film school is that your classmates are the contacts that you'll be making and you guys will recommend each other for different productions. You don't need a 4 year film school there are plenty of a few months or a few week courses (if you are tight with money). The best place to live would be somewhere where there is a good film market like LA, NY, chicago or etc. <- the advantage here is that you'll make contacts with vendors or other professional the disadvantage is that it tends to be costly.
If you skip film school, and go straight to set you'll end up being a PA and chances are you'll be a Production PA and not a Camera PA so you'll end up doing cough cough bitch work. If you do work in the camera or lighting department, if you lack the knowledge someone will be babysitting you and no one really like to do that. Sure there are a few people who will teach you stuff. But you want to get called for more work and people tend to call the ones who know what they are doing. You could survive on no/low budget productions where the trade off is you work with less experience people for low wage but you may pick up bad habits or get lazy.
Another alternative is to work at a rental house, you'll learn the gear, make contacts. Where you could try to get onset and go from there.
In the end its a game of luck and who you know. There are no guarantees in this field.