A really nice UDS could be made for under 250 even if you went the more expensive route and got the drum kit from bigpoppasmokers.com. it's a little more than you're price range but the chargriller Akorn is a good option that you can set and forget, I do it all the time. I'm not trying to talk you out of electric or gas but you'd be surprised how many charcoal smokers can hold the same temp for hours, even better than gas or electric. For what's it's worth, I had the vertical gas/charcoal master forge smoker from Lowe's(under $200) and returned it. I Hope this helps.
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*A Texan transplant*
UDS | Blue Weber Performer Platinum | Chargriller Akorn | 22.5 Weber OTG | WSJ Gold | Mini WSM | Maverick ET-73 | Blue Thermapen | Maverick PT-100 | Gasser(charcoal chimney starter)