I prefer the VM (or container) approach because, in addition to addressing the three items you identified, it generally allows me to nail down a test environment as close to the production server as I care to make it -- without unnecessarily constraining my dev machine.
By offloading the test environment to a VM, I'm free to upgrade my dev machine through various OS/distro upgrades, without compromising the test environment integrity -- the VM continues to run CentOS 6 server, while my dev machine matures from Ubuntu 12->14->16(->18 next weekend) LTS versions.
Similar advantages may be had with containers - with the added advantage that they can also leverage shared OS for a smaller footprint if multiple servers are needed.
With later versions of apache, getting SSL up and running is as simple as linking the sites-available conf to the sites-enabled directory. The provided snakeoil certs make it a breeze.
There's a bit of a learning curve for the VMs, but its been well worth it.
Good luck and please keep blogging.
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