I use Google Apps with my own domain, but I was lucky enough to get in while it was free and so far it remains free for users who'd already started using it before the charges came in. It's ideal - if Gmail disappears, I can just find an alternative service and point my MX records at it - no tie in at all. Even if I was starting now, I'd consider it worth the cost - a few quid a month to have relatively hassle free email.
I connect via IMAP on my desktop, with it set to keep all mail, so I have a permanent archive if I need it. Using Thunderbird for that, so basically it's mbox. That gives me the benefit of a simple plain text archive with all the convenience of gmail. The Apps accounts don't get ads either, which is another plus.
Yes, it's more hassle to set up than just using gmail or outlook.com or whatever, but it's not like I've got to maintain mail servers myself - just a domain and a couple of DNS records.