What brought you to the assumption that DigitalOcean is comical?!
I have never seen an easier route to setting up a Node.js application. You literally create a “Droplet” (as it’s called), and away you go. They have tutorials/documentation on how to setup practically everything involving Node.js. My entire blog is with them at £3.63 (local) a month and I swear by it, it has been the best hosting choice I’ve ever made. In fact, I recently read an article where Node.js (running Ghost Blog) ran almost 700% faster than PHP (running WordPress) on DigitalOcean. I live in the UK, using a server based in New York. I can religiously say their service has been the fastest yet, hosting both a Ghost blog (Node.js) and WordPress (PHP) simultaneously. It is a tedious process setting up Node.js, but so was PHP in its early days. Node.js just needs the backing support of one-click installs like PHP received when WordPress sparked.
As for writing issues, were you using sudo commands to rewrite the permissions? (They clearly have no permissions liability so it is you that creates that privacy and security, which tends to be the case in most, if not all nginx capable proxies) – I know it might not help you now you’ve moved on, but just a thought :) Their support pressure has drastically increased due to the demand of Ghost support (a new blogging platform that is limited to hosting options right now!)
DigtialOcean, MaxCDN and AmazonAWS are my three favorite Node.js options, though, people will have different tastes.