Re: New guy, what to get?
$1000 is a nice budget. Cruisers always look better, but are a little more difficult for mounting. In particular I had a lot of trouble, but I'll tell you about that.
Steel frame for sure. Aluminum is not as strong. I got my bike at walmart and I made sure it had a steel frame.
If possible, I would try my best to get yourself a 29er, but getting that size with a steel frame will be a little more expensive, but within your budget. You will enjoy the extra room and height for sure.
Now, let me stress this people might disagree with me, but I had a very difficult problem with my cruiser, only because it was multiple speed. I will recommend that you absolutely get a single speed cruiser.
My engine mounted, but the front and rear sprocket did not line up. Chain jumped all over, and I nearly broke the drive shaft once. Along with that, this is not safe. If your chain locks up while you ride, you can be thrown right over the handle bars. My $500 project turned into $800 after I took it to a chop shop to resolve the problem. Either that or I had to buy a new bike!
Not only that, but you said you just wanna get around the neighborhood. A single speed would be perfect for this, and will leave you with enough room to place spacers or washers if you need to align the rear sprocket.
Bottom line : Single Speed 29er, Steel frame Cruiser.
Find one of those and you'll be set. Good luck!